Editor’s Note: The following was submitted to Manchester Ink Link by Dave Bastien, who was moved to take action on behalf of a Market Basket employee he encountered Friday night, when he went to pick up some specialty items – gluten-free – for his wife. Market Basket is the only place he can find what he needs. As he learned, sometimes on the way to getting what you need, you end up in the right place at the right time because of what someone else needs, too.
So I went to Market Basket last night and ended up on a bench outside the store sharing tears with the woman who bagged my groceries.
Here’s what happened:
As I was checking out, the manager (nice guy, by the way) came over to the bagger (Linda Bates, a 69-year-old widow from Londonderry, NH) and said she had to leave for the evening because there wasn’t enough business. As he walked away she started crying, so I went over and asked her if she was OK. She said “no,” so I hugged her and asked what was wrong. She said she was being sent home because it was too slow, and she wasn’t going to make enough to pay her bills. This wasn’t the first time, and she’s been really struggling financially since her husband died of brain cancer two years ago, especially now with all that’s happening at Market Basket.
I tried to reassure her, and after a few minutes I left with my groceries. While driving home I was overcome by the emotion of the situation so I dropped off my bags and went back. I just couldn’t believe how millionaires fighting over making even more money impacted this poor woman’s life in a very real way.
I wondered if they knew.
When I got back she was still there so I told her I was going to the ATM to get some cash to help her and I’d be right back. Well, the nearest ATM was broken so I returned just as she was leaving the store. We sat on the bench outside and talked (and cried) a bit more. She said that after her husband died she ended up on public assistance (food stamps, fuel assistance) but she didn’t like taking it (she’s a very proud woman from a generation we should aspire to emulate) so she applied for and got a job at Market Basket making $8/hour. She got off public assistance and now she’s up to $9/hour (and proud to have earned a raise!), but there aren’t enough hours on her schedule now. We exchanged contact info and I promised to help her.
This hard-working woman is a victim of greed. Arthur S. and the Market Basket Board of Directors, you should be ashamed of yourselves and you should come here and apologize to her, and you should make things right. That would be the courageous thing to do. Are you up for doing what’s right?
I’m sure you can’t imagine this, but here’s a woman who ran out of money for fuel in March, so she would go to bed early and turn on her electric blanket to get through the night. Have you ever had to do that? She doesn’t qualify for fuel assistance because she has a job working for your store. Her tank is still empty and she was hoping to use her August income to buy fuel to get her through the first of the cold nights. Can any of you even fathom living like that?
In the meantime, she could use a little help.
So if you want to help me help her you can add a little contribution here on this Go Fund Me campaign I launched for her. Anything you can offer will go to Linda directly. I know that sometimes people think that raising money for others is a scam, so if you question this at all call me directly at 603-434-2853. I’ll introduce you to Linda too so you can hear her story.
Sincerely, Dave Bastien
UPDATE: I got an email from Linda saying she went to bed depressed and stayed in bed late because she was so worried. She was given hours today so she got herself ready and went to work for a 2 p.m. shift. I went to the store to buy a few things and tell her about all the generous people – all of you! -– and she started smiling. That’s when we took this picture. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping to make her smile and take away some of her worry. The world still has lots of kind hearts and I sincerely appreciate all of your support for this campaign.
Hear Linda Bates in her own words, via the Eagle Tribune, on how Market Basket has changed her life for the better:
Click here to see what readers of this story are saying on reddit, where the conversation is heating up.