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


  1. I’m sorry yours is so testy! I find Ft Lewis, which is I think the second largest next to Ktown in Germany, pretty good. I have broken the code to go when kids are in school (because families with one spouse deployed all go to the commissary and tempers and behavior are stretched to the max!) and not at lunch when the single soldiers are in there. Most of the time I have no problem. Of course I tend to plug in my Ipod while I shop so I don’t hear anyone and can stay in my own little zone. Best time is after attending 0800 church on Sunday morning. Almost no one there.

    Comment by momcat | January 6, 2011 | Reply

  2. No surprise there .Army is a violent organization ,so it stands to reason that its members are violent .If they cant find an outlet for their voilence then they take it out on the canned foods and turkeys at the commissary.

    Comment by daggero | January 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Leave it to Daggero to be spot on with his comments. Your comments add spice and smiles to intlxpatr’s blog. Even violence can show up in odd ways. I will say that its been my experience that, in many cases, those who have to be the most violent in battle, are the most gentle in peace… Adventureman…

      Comment by Adventureman | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. Momcat, this is a NAVY commissary, and the younger people are pleasant and normal, it is the majority, who are older than I am, the retired people, who are so aggressive and competitive. Part of me wonders if it is borderline poverty and desperation which makes them a little crazy? I could try after the 8:00 service, that might work 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  4. LOL, Daggero, but I would guess that the most aggressive are the elderly WOMEN who were married to the serviceman, back in their day when women were not serving in the armed forces. Also, most of these people are older, so I am guessing it is the retired population. But there is an atmosphere of barely contained violence and entitlement and a willingness to fight for the right of way in the aisles. I can’t even LOL. It’s just sad.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  5. AdventureMan – hmmm. . . . maybe I will just send the list with YOU to the commissary. Now I feel like laughing again, LOL!

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  6. Spoken like a true solider AdventureMan .BTW this is your second comment on the Blog.

    Comment by daggero | January 8, 2011 | Reply

  7. At first, I thought they might be buying extra turkeys for “friends” since they get them on sale and no sales tax.

    Since you pointed out these tend to be the elder clientele, I get the feeling a little of the anger may be because they’re no longer shown the “respect” they once received when the “wore” their husbands ranks.

    Now I think you may be more spot-on with the poverty angle; a turkey provides a substantial amount of meat. If they happen to have a separate freezer for stocking, they could provide months of food.

    Comment by Ken | January 9, 2011 | Reply

  8. The cross ones tend to be couples, grumpy men and squinty women looking angry . . . I don’t know what makes them so desperate, Ken, but I suspect economics at the base of it.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 11, 2011 | Reply

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