An Ode to Commissary Baggers

We don’t shop at the commissary, which causes misery in more ways than one. The last grocery shopping expedition resulted in my kitchen floor being littered with a sea of plastic bags, and my cat wondering who possessed his mother’s body and caused bad words to flow from her lips.

When I returned home from the grocery store and began unloading the bags, I was thinking to myself, "Sheesh, did I buy twice as much as I usually do?" The bags stuffed inside my trunk would seem to indicate as much. It wasn’t until I began going through the bags that I realized what had happened.

The bagger had put about three items in each bag.

I have one of those plastic bag holders that I stuff the empty bags into so that I can recycle them and use them for various purposes in the future. I filled the holder and still had dozens of bags left over. I think it will take me a year to go through all the bags from this one visit to the grocery store! Even with an upcoming PCS move…..

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the items were not packaged in any organized fashion. The meat wasn’t packaged with other meat. The veggies were not with their cousins and there was no possible way to unpack in an organized fashion because stuff was everywhere. It was a mess.

Now, to be fair, this experience was the exception, not the rule, but it did make me think that this is one reason the commissary is so wonderful. They know how to bag like nobody’s business. I’ve never had a bagger who didn’t use every square inch of the bags, and use it well. And they don’t tend to stick the frozen broccoli with the Oreo cookies.

So, I think it would be beneficial for military families who aren’t in close proximity to a commissary, and civilians, if there were some sort of cross-training program. Commissary baggers could train their grocery store counterparts and maybe there could be a "take your grocer to the commissary day" where the grocery store baggers could observe the commissary baggers in their natural element. Because, I have to say, I’ve never had my feminine products bagged with the salmon at a commissary. Never. That’s just wrong on so many levels……

Today, I will hit the grocery store again. I’m bringing my own bags.

About the Author

Andi

Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • MrsArmyWife

    I gave in and bought the green resuable bags. I figure that for my bi-weekly trips, 10 bags should do. If you only have X am ount of bags they tend to put more in them! And the best part? They dont tip over on the way home!

  • No matter where I shop, be it the commissary or a local grocery store, I unload my cart in the manner I would like it bagged…and I let them know that as well. I have been known to tell the baggers to please put all the veggies/fruits into one bag.
    I particularly like it when there is no bagger (at the local stores) and I start bagging my own…all of a sudden, there are 2 baggers and the checker trying to put my stuff into bags. I tell them, “oh, please put at least 4 cereal boxes into each bag,” or “be sure to put all the boxed items in one bag”.
    I don’t have to tell the commissary baggers how to do it, because there are usually 2 of them bagging, and since they are getting “like with like”, they bag all the fruits/veggies together, the meats come down the belt at the same time…all dairy, all snack/cereal…all “health and beauty stuff….and it makes it easier to unload at home, that’s for sure.
    Now, if I can just remember to tell them plastic when I REALLY need more at home…

  • Andi

    I know what you mean, Linda. If I’m not at a commissary, I prefer to bag myself. However, I’m usually still unloading the cart when the bagger has started bagging, so I just leave it be most of the time.

  • I agree! There have been times when we go off post to get a few things at the grocery store and they put 2 or 3 things small items in 1 bag, it drives me nuts! I love love the green reusable bags from the commissary! I ended up buying more than enough and always bring them with me when we go to our grocery shopping trips. I love how much room they have and I agree MrsArmyWife, they *don’t* tip over and the best part is that even if they are heavy, the handles don’t dig into your palm like a regular bag does. I highly recommend them and for $.70, who can beat that price? Plus, since they stack everything so well, even with a full cart I come home with bags they didn’t even use, all nice and folded up! :)
    I also like that the com. baggers put the alike items together. Yesterday they put the many baby gerber jars into it’s own bag and it honestly made my job a whole lot easier when I got home. At the grocery store off post, I’ve had frozen foods with cereal boxes and off course by the time we get home, the cardboard is soggy. Local baggers could definitely use a few lessons from the commissary ones! ^_~

  • HH7

    Ok what commissary are you guys shopping at because our baggers (except for a few) do NOT know how to bag.
    I’d bag myself if I didn’t get the stink eye for doing it.

  • Andi

    I was trying to think about this, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad experience with a commissary bagger. I’ve been lucky.
    On another note, following the advice of some of the commenters, I bought the green bags (reusable bags) today, and wow – what a difference. What used to take 20 plastic bags took just five green bags today, and loading and unloading was a breeze. Not sure why I haven’t done this sooner. I might just learn to enjoy grocery shopping yet….

  • Tiffany

    My commissary experience didn’t tend to give me “knowledgable” baggers, either. I unload my cart with like items so that they’ll be bagged together, but I’ve definitely had the baggers put stuff on top of bread and eggs… grr.

    • John Halsy

      But not all baggers do that. There are some very conciencious ones, too. Observe and you might notice some are very careful.

  • I’m actually really glad they came out with those reuseable bags, not only are they great but you’re right Andi, they save so much space too! And they actually last well too, I’ve had mine since December and so far not even a tear or anything :)

  • HH7

    I love the green bags! I’ve started leaving them in my car and use them at other stores too since it’s such a hassle trying to locate where to drop the plastic ones for recycling.

  • Killjoy

    I use the green bags when I remember to bring them into the commissary with me. If I’ve forgotten them, I ask for paper bags and tell them to fill them all the way to the top and not to worry about how much it weighs. I can usually get all of my groceries in 4 bags.

  • i bought the reusable bags, i however never remember to take them in with me… one of these days!

  • ArmyWife&Sister

    We just moved to Fort Drum and I have had nothing but bad experiences with otherwise wonderful baggers. I have never before had baggers who stand in front of my stroller with their hands out while everyone is trying to evacuate the building due to a fire alarm. And the women hadn’t even packed my items that were still sitting on the conveyer belt in the store. I understand that they work off tips. I also understand that if you don’t bag my items, I dont tip you. I have never had this problem anywhere else we have been posted!! So since the savings between the commissary and the new Super store chain down the street aren’t that different, I will for now spare myself the rudeness and go elsewhere.

  • ArmyWife&Sister

    We just moved to Fort Drum and I have had nothing but bad experiences with otherwise wonderful baggers. I have never before had baggers who stand in front of my stroller with their hands out while everyone is trying to evacuate the building due to a fire alarm. And the women hadn’t even packed my items that were still sitting on the conveyer belt in the store. I understand that they work off tips. I also understand that if you don’t bag my items, I dont tip you. I have never had this problem anywhere else we have been posted!! So since the savings between the commissary and the new Super store chain down the street aren’t that different, I will for now spare myself the rudeness and go elsewhere.

  • Normally I would agree, but our last commissary trip with the “green” bags left much to be desired.
    I unloaded the van, went in the kitchen, and all I could say was, “She was sooooo new.”

  • Oceana Commissary

    If anyone every has a problem with a bagger you should contact the commissary Store Director. I assure you we don’t take these things lightly. We always want you shopping visit to be pleasant. You can find every store at commissaries.com

  • Carlisle Commissary

    In the commissary I go to I normally shop on weekends. I normally find on weekends it seems they have “guest” baggers. A Boy Scout Troop this week. A high School group next week. They will have a couple of the normal baggers watching over them who will give them instructions before they start work but its a crap shoot as to how much they pay attention to the regular bagger. Used to be when the youngsters bagged they had paid attention to the instructions, nowadays, not so much. I asked the bagger in charge why and she seemed frustrated with the youngsters. She stated a lot of them come in with the electronics and aren’t paying that much attention. The youngsters are horsing around with each other. (When my cart is emptied I end up taking it back to the shopping cart rack. It is more the exception nowadays that one of the youngsters will take it from me. Now the youngsters that are on the registers are incredible. They are polite, courteous, always have a smile and will have your items through the register before you blink!

  • Ft Campbell, KY

    The commissary we shop at the baggers do a good job on bagging our items, They had out meats together and all other cold items together, the chips and bread were properly packed also.
    They doubled bag the heaver items can goods ect. I have no complaints.