YDU: Where Are They Hiding The Peanut Butter?


Why Didn’t You Tell Me… I’d never be able to find the peanut butter?  Inevitably after each new PCS — of which there have been many — I would find myself wandering the aisles of a new commissary or grocery store in what seemed like a herculean quest — locating this store’s peanut butter.

Fruits and vegetables always seem to greet me smartly at the door.  Milk, meats, and breads all fall quickly into their ascribed order.  Yet the peanut butter remains more mercurial in its associations.

In some duty stations, the peanut butter, sensibly, was next to jams and jellies. Others, it cast its lot in with canned goods. Once, I kid you not, I found it hiding with the pickles and relishes as though it too might make a good addition to my burgers and hot dogs.

Being of northern, independent “up by your own bootstraps” blood, I perceived asking a clerk irrationally embarrassing, like admitting you can’t seem to deduce the rules of the game everyone else is playing. So, unless woefully pressed for time, I hunt for it and other items on my list in a haphazard way myself, growing more frustrated as time goes on.

Once I had a protracted “discussion” with my spouse in the store as to whether I was stomping around (his interpretation) or just walking with purpose (mine). No doubt I’ve garnered many a dubious glance as I “purposefully walk” down aisle after aisle searching for what I need on those dreaded first trips to the new stores.

The peanut butter has become a running joke in our family as an accidental metaphor for what it means to be a military spouse. Marrying a military man meant I was signing up for a life with variables beyond my control — Will he deploy again and when? Where will our next home be? How will my career change in this new place?

The chaos and sense of powerlessness can be crippling at times, frustrating nearly always. But I’ve learned it doesn’t have to put us at odds with each other. We’re a team in this military family life, and being with him is worth the fatigue of tumult inevitable when we are in transition.

I’ve learned I can survive just about anything, but if I want to thrive I have to choose to stay on his side and direct my frustration elsewhere. After all, the chaos isn’t his fault; it’s just part of the package.

We’ve done anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays together and apart; we’ve communicated through letters, email , Skype, satellite phone, and gloriously face-to-face. He’s taught me how to ask for help when I need it; I’ve taught him how to empathize with my plight. We make each other laugh through it all– even through finding the peanut butter.

Meredith Galloway is an educator who administers an online portion of an Arizona charter school from her current home near Ft. Hood, TX. She has been married to her Active-Duty Army pilot for three years now during which time she’s called four different states home. Currently, Meredith is also pursuing her credential as an accredited financial counselor through the FIRNA military spouse fellowship. Her other passions include volunteering in the community, gardening, and coffee, lots of coffee. 

Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story.  If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.

About the Author

Why Didn't You Tell Me
Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story. If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.
  • Charming post, Meredith. Your grocery-mapping woes resonate with particular strength for me just now, as we’re just a few weeks away from our next PCS. I’ll think of you as I stomp my way through an unfamiliar commissary trying to find that elusive peanut butter.

    P.S. Crunchy or smooth? Jif, Skippy, or Peter Pan? These are the truly important questions of our day. ;-)

  • Rachel S.

    The things we take for granted, right? Know that both of you are always in my thoughts and prayers through all your “peanut butter quests.” ;-)

  • Meredith

    Thanks; I had fun writing it. I assume it’s different for everyone, but I find the frustration of a big move, upheaval of deployments, unexpected trainings, etc. come out at the oddest times. For me, it’s nearly always in the darn store that seems laid out by a loon. Anyone else have any funny “breaking point” moments when dealing with the frustrations of military life?

  • Jess

    Usually my breaking points come when I get sick. It’s always while the hubs is deployed. But a tip to help you with your peanut butter quests at your next duty station. If you go to https://www.commissaries.com you can click on the store your going for and then there should be a link for the store floor plan. Peanutbutter is specifically listed :) however, if the store was recently updated. The website may be wrong. :)

  • Jen

    I read the article and i was thinking that I completely agree – with all the chaos military life brings, finding peanut butter (or barley!) just adds one more level. But then I read Jess’ comment above, and oh my gosh – you’re right! It’s life changing that I can know where items are before I go! (well maybe not life changing, but certainly makes shopping a bit easier!)

  • SCL

    And, can I just say to all commissary managers everywhere: please do not rearrange!!! My local commissary has rearranged twice since I moved here. Do they know how often we have to re-learn grocery stores?? I don’t care if the product placement doesn’t make sense or would look better some other way. I know where it is now, just please don’t move it! Stop it!

    thank you for listening. LOL.

    • Melanie Bush

      They actually rearranged all of the commissaries so that they would be the same at every one. The reason we did It is exactly what this lady was saying was wrong with commissaries. Ours has been rearranged now for several months. Everyone is used to it now. It only took about a month for everyone to be on board. Now every commissary should pretty much look the same.