Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Commissary

After six weeks here in this active duty life, I finally went to the commissary. I know, I'm slow.

Here's what happened. Yesterday, I went to another Cav Canyon Spouses' Club luncheon and then stopped by Jack Bauer's office for a few minutes, 'cause I could. On my way home, I needed to stop by the grocery store for four items: Crack Coke Zero, yogurt, frozen veggies for Moo dog, and fresh sage. Jack suggested I go to the commissary just down the street from his office. I would need to pass by it on my way off post anyway.

After making a few faces of hestitation, I ran through all my excuses not to. I was already on post. It was not payday. It was not close to payday. And it was just after noon. I could always go in and then turn around leave if it was too busy. (But I got to say, the local grocery store we frequent is always insanely busy, too, so "too busy" as an excuse doesn't hold much water here.)

So I went. The parking lot wasn't overflowing. Good sign. I was warmly greeted by some man in the parking lot pushing a cart. "Must be one of those guys I gotta tip," I thought.

While I do like to think I am of above average intelligence, this exercise may have proved otherwise. First, I had trouble finding my way inside. There were many doors, not all of which opened automatically as I approached. Once inside, I couldn't find a central cart area, but luckily there were a bunch of carts haphazardly pushed aisde, tucked into corners, and what have you. I took one hoping that I wasn't taking someone else's cart when they stepped away early in the shopping experience when a hot deal was spotted three aisles over.

Anyway, cart acquired, I pushed on. The Coke Zero immediately jumped into the cart. An easy find. One of the first areas I came to had the all-natural/organic shampoos, conditioners, lotions, deodorants, etc. That was a surprise. Some of the products there are ones that we use already. Might have to check that out further.

Then onto the produce area. A reasonable selection and variety of products. I hate to admit it, but I am not one of these people who can tell you the price of items right off the top of my head. I don't know how much I pay for bananas at the local grocery store, I don't know how much a gallon of milk costs (I have no need for a gallon of milk), and I couldn't tell you what a basic loaf of bread costs (I have a thing for the really good, fresh baked bread that costs at least $3.50 a loaf and can easily disappear in an evening). I do know what limes cost though. The cheapest I have seen limes on the free market in the last several years is $.25 a lime. At the commissary? $.21 each. Good deal. So while not on my list, I did add four limes to my cart.

I toodled around the produce area some more looking for fresh herbs. Just about when I was about ready to give up and ask the stocker, I saw she was standing right in front of all the packets of fresh rosemary, thyme, mint, chives, basil, and yes, sage. I was thinking if there was one thing on my list I couldn't find, it would be fresh sage. That showed me.

Produce conquered and two items crossed off my list, I moved on. I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't peruse every aisle. I barely glanced at the extensive meat counter and completely ignored the aisles in the middle. I headed straight for the yogurt. We've been eating Yoplait Light for breakfast, and I needed to get a few more for Jack in flavors he likes. Unlike the grocery store on Sunday afternoon, I found the selection at the commissary to be extensive and well stocked. And at $.50 each, a deal (as opposed to $.69 on super sale). So instead of getting three to get through the rest of the week, I bought 20. I think we're good on yogurt for a few days. And another item was crossed off the list.

Onto the frozen veggies. Here, my expectations were still super low. I was expecting, if I were lucky, to find some frozen carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower mixes. Yeah, I found those, but I also found frozen asparagus, shelled edamame, and frozen sweet potatoes. I picked up Moo's favorites of edamame, aspargus, and broccoli. Spoiled girl.

All the items, plus a few limes, collected, so time for the line. Jack had been into the commissary recently for some something and said the line was so long that he turned around a left. I was expecting some time waiting in line as well. I was wrong. There was no line. I walked straight to the cashier, emptied my items, and paid all in about one minute. Nice.

I had heard, from you all, that the bagger takes your bags out to your car and then you tip him/her. So before I shoved my wallet back into my purse, I grabbed a few ones (miracle that I had any cash whatsoever). A quiet Asian woman helped me out to the car with my three plastic bags and soda refrigerator pack. I spent $33.19. How much would you tip? I gave $3 and thought I would check with you.

So there is the story of BW's first trip to the commissary. And I might even go back.