I just read a blog post over at SpouseBuzz that had me sniffling and saying 'I love the commissary.' As a Navy wife of 10 years, it's hard to imagine anything that would make me utter those words, let alone get sentimental about it. Well, blogger airforcewife inspired me to reflect on the love/hate relationship I have with the commissary. (I appreciate the privelege, but the experience is draining--as with most things military).
It's a drive to get there, but the prices really help the budget--organic milk for $3.19! Polaner All Fruit for $1! The savings really are amazing, especially if you are picky and don't want to settle for cheap stuff. The Navy commissary has a surprisingly large selection of organic shampoos and soaps and other toiletries, at bargain prices. They always have a great selection of meats and cheeses, my theory is because Navy families are usually well traveled, and include such a variety of cultures. I never understand why people complain about the produce--sure, sometimes the bananas haven't come in, or there are only three bruised red onions . . . but there are usually three other bins filled with other varieties of onions, 6 huge bins of various apples, every type of cabbage you might want . . . and always weird rooty things that I would have know idea what to do with. They stock more varieties of produce than my local grocery store, even if they occassionally run low on something popular. I've been ticked because it seems they stopped carrying my English cucumbers. But the regular cucumbers overfloweth.
It is HARD to do with children. Because it is so good for the budget, there is pressure to get EVERYTHING, which means a lengthy trip. Though usually by the time I get to condiments, I am desperate to just get in line and leave before the kids lose it completely. But I still have to get milk and bread, which is always at the end.
I really love the continuity, though . . . after 5 PCS's, each commissary is a little different, but they always feel the same. The people are always the same. The milspouses with kids, the retirees in carts, the baggers who always load my car, the deli people who remember me every week--or more accurately, remember my kids. The single sailors picking out Lean Cuisines or Hungry Man dinners. Some guys buying a pallet of charcoal for a command picnic. They are the same in Norfolk, Oceana, San Diego, Coronado, Jacksonville, and Pensacola.
You know, I've never run into anyone I know at the commissary. But I always feel right at home.