The problems of a person like me don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world but sometimes we need to complain about life’s little disappointments.

Last weekend, our local grocer was already closed, so my son and I headed to the Jewel in River Forest. Sure, I felt like kind of a loser buying groceries on Saturday night. But our house was out of everything and my son and I were planning a special meal.

All right, so the kid spends way too much time with his father but lately we’ve had fun cooking and eating Asian dishes. The first problem we faced was finding what we needed. The Jewel is way bigger than our neighborhood store and we don’t know the layout. Also, it has so much variety; it’s easy to grab the wrong thing ” like the low-fat donuts or the jalapeno toothpaste.

So, we split up the list and spent an hour picking out basics, as well as ingredients for Korean-style barbecued ribs. At last we reached the checkout lane. I had a check and a check card and planned to write it for $20.00 over. I had big plans for that twenty, which included renting a movie on the way home.

The cashier put the check in the machine and told me I couldn’t have twenty over. O.K., just make it for the exact amount. I figured I had the price of a movie in my change collection. The cashier then announced the machine wouldn’t take my check. She called a supervisor over. The supervisor asked if I had another check ” I didn’t. The next thing I knew, we were walking out of the store empty-handed.

This was a new low for me. In my whole life, I’ve never walked out of a food store without food. The account had plenty of money in it I couldn’t understand it. My wife was even less understanding and called the store to question and complain.

We were referred to Jewel’s check cashing company. They examined our records and said we had an excellent check-cashing history. They couldn’t comprehend why the store didn’t just override the decline. To help us further, they added a note to our account advertising that we are really good check-cashing risks.

We didn’t let the incident ruin our evening and the next day we bought the groceries we needed from the store down the block. They never give us a hard time about checks and don’t mind if we add twenty bucks to the total for a little walking around money.

Other businesses in town are just as accommodating. I’ve completed at least three purchases in Forest Park, on the promise that I’ll come back later with the money.

Just the night before, I’d had a good shopping experience at the Forest Park Wal-Mart, of all places. Sure, I may have contributed to an evil retail empire but the bulb was only $1.88.

Having our check declined at Jewel was frustrating and embarrassing. I wondered what my son thought ” gee, my dad really is a deadbeat. But he was as philosophical as ever on the way home. “We never should have left Forest Park.”

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball...