I typed the words "Commissary Bagger" into my Google browser and got tons of info about commissaries, bagger tips info, head baggers, patron comments, commissary cashier/bagger manners, and on and on.

It was a couple of hours of good reading. I got to read every person’s feelings about anything that concerned their participation in the commissary. I have to agree that lots of the complaints or comments are justified.

My beef is with the "green floppies" (reusable cloth bags). First, I must rate them. From 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, I rate them a 5. I agree they hold more, are reusable, durable, cheap (70 cents), and stay in place once they are filled. From a patron’s standpoint, I understand why they like them.

Now from a bagger’s standpoint, getting them started is a nightmare. After getting it unfolded and getting the flimsy bottom piece to lie flat, then comes the problem of keeping the handles out of the way so that one can put something in the bag. Once the first item is inside, the bag flops over or the item falls to one side or the other and must be replaced while trying to get another item inside. This battle goes on until the bag is at least half full. Then the bagging becomes easier.

The bagger’s battle with the green floppies is noticeable by both the patron and cashier when the conveyor gets crowded and must be stopped. Occasionally, the patron or cashier grabs a green floppy to help relieve the congested conveyor. When there are two people bagging using paper or plastic bags, they can usually keep the conveyor from having to be stopped.

Most experienced baggers are pretty fast at bagging. The green floppies have brought some of the fastest baggers to a crawl, thereby slowing down the entire process from bagger to cashier, causing the line to be longer and the patrons having to be in the commissary longer.

Now there is a partial solution to this problem. First, take that flimsy bottom that comes with the bag and throw it away. Get a firm piece of cardboard, a thin piece of plywood, or anything the same size of the bag bottom and put it inside. It will hold the bag’s bottom open and the bagger will not have to fight to keep items standing up, remaining in place, or the bag completely collapsing. Imagine trying to put twenty or thirty little bottles of baby food in without breaking them or any other glass containers. If they survive at the commissary, you have to worry about the ride home and the unloading of them. A firm bottom in your green floppies will go a long way toward making your green floppies more friendly.

Thanks for reading my grunt.

— Gil at Tinker

Thank you for writing, Gil. The results of my informal survey — quizzing baggers who carry my groceries — are that the baggers at my commissary agree with you. They say the green bags are manageable, but more difficult. They flop over and are bigger than the white plastic bags, so they must be more carefully packed. However, I’m not sure that many shoppers are likely to cut plywood bottoms for their reusable bags to speed up the grocery line by a minute or so.

An easier tip from another bagger: Send larger, heavier groceries down the conveyer first. Then the bagger can pack the bottoms of the green bags first and more easily fill the top with lighter items.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She and her family are stationed in Germany. Spouse Calls appears weekly in Stars and Stripes. Write to her at and see the Spouse Calls blog here.

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