Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Gauntlet

Today dawned clear and beautiful after a day of rain yesterday. It’s a good thing, today I ‘run the gauntlet,’ i.e. I make my run to the military facilities.

It’s across town. Across town in Pensacola is a piece of cake – it’s not like trying to get across Doha, or across Kuwait City; you’re not stuck forever on the ring roads with the arrogant and the rude and the inconsiderate-at-best or even worse – the oblivious.

No, it’s a mere fifteen minutes of sedate driving. I go to the hospital pharmacy, and IF they have the medication I have prescribed, they will fill it – for free. I fill my tank; gas is cheaper and there is no tax. I pop by the Navy Exchange to pick up my expensive hope-in-a-bottle, which is cheaper there. No tax. And now . . . sigh . . . it is time to go to the commissary.

I don’t go that often. While I can find most things there, it can be hit or miss. Prices are better, and there are no taxes, but it isn’t Publix. When you go to check out, everyone waits in one long snakey line, and one at a time, as a cashier becomes available, they check you out. It isn’t that bad. As a process, it goes fairly quickly.

Although the prices are pretty good and there is no tax, you are obligated to tip the bag people who bag and carry out your groceries, and there is a surcharge added onto your bill to cover commissary operation costs. I still think overall we save money.

No, the reason I dread the commissary is the other customers. These are military people and former military people, these are MY people! And they are rude! The aisles are crowded with scowling, aggressive people. The older they are, the worse they are! You think of older people being kindly and polite, but something is wrong with this picture at the commissary, where so many are pushy and rude and look at you like ‘get out of my way!’ I try to stay out of their way, but there are so many of them!

Actually, I try to stem the tide of ill-will by being particularly polite and cheerful. I’m not sure it does much good. Sometimes cheerfulness only seems to make cross and crabby people crosser and crabbier.

On the way to the car, I was chatting with the bagger, and he told me this year was fairly mellow, not like last year.

“What happened last year?” I had to ask.

“Oh, last year they put turkeys on sale,” he responded as he loaded the bags into the back of the car. “Even though you were only allowed to buy two, some people were cheating and buying more, and a couple fist-fights broke out.”

Fist fights? In the commissary? Over turkeys? And who has room in their freezers for more than one turkey?

I resolve not to make another trip to the commissary until I absolutely have to.

January 6, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Civility, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Shopping | 9 Comments