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Many of the subjects covered in this space have alternate lives as discussion threads on Stars and Stripes’ Spouse Calls blog. An early Spouse Calls column explored the topic of tips for commissary baggers, and the subject still draws responses from bloggers.

An Oklahoma retiree recently posted comments based on his own experience as a bagger. Here are some excerpts:

"I am a bagger at Tinker AFB. I was delighted to find a subject concerning baggers. First, I would like all the commissary customers to get a better view of the baggers that serve them. We older baggers are most likely retirees. That means we used a bagger when we were active and appreciated it when they provided bagger service.

"As far as the older baggers are concerned, we have been there and done that already, so we are more dedicated to doing a good job for our customers. We know that no customer has to tip us. However we appreciate it when they do.

"I would like all commissary customers who use a bagger, especially an older one, to know that most of us have served our time for you and our country and many of us are financially secure.

"We have several major reasons for wanting to bag your groceries. After having served our time, we just can’t sit around twiddling our thumbs. Some of us want to stay active. Others just want to be around his or her kind on a military installation. For yet others, it’s the best way to run into an old buddy that they haven’t seen for ages. Others may have other reasons, but the money is always appreciated.

"You younger customers are at that stage of feeling invulnerable, so seeing an old retiree hunched over, walking a little slow, poor posture, maybe limping, a little out of breath, or one who didn’t understand what you said the first time, take a second and try to guess his or her age. Now see how many civilians his or her age are able to keep up with the demands of a bagger. We are usually bagging every day unless [we are] sick or too tired.

"Our shuffling gait keeps that asphalt or cement parking lot nice and flat. What you see in us is a preview of coming attractions for yourselves. Just wanted you to know that we are a part of the military family and are proud of it.

"For all the older baggers, we appreciate you letting us serve you."

— Gil Jennings

Thank you for your service, Gil, and for your comments from the bagger’s perspective and the retiree’s perspective.

My dad is also a retiree. He lives near Tinker and often shops at the commissary there. You might have bagged his groceries a time or two — an example of how we are all connected in the military family.

As members of the larger military family, both active duty and retired, we’re on the same journey. We just happen to be at different places along the road.

Those of us who are active-duty members and families have respect for those who have served our country and who continue to serve in other ways.

By the same token, retirees can empathize with the stresses current members and thier families face daily: Juggling three kids and a small budget at the commissary, for instance.

A little patience and consideration goes a long way – and that goes both ways.

Read the rest of Gil’s comments, as well as other bloggers’ thoughts about baggers and shoppers, here.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein Air Base. Send questions or comments to her at spousecalls@stripes.com and join the Spouse Calls blog here.


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