It was obvious I didn’t spend much time on post when I exited the commissary doors into the bittersweet sound of TAPS. And kept walking. The young bagger stopped. I looked at him quizzically and then slowly started to move on. He leaned into pushing the cart while he, rightfully, asked, “Um we’re not going to stop?” I spun around, “Stop? We’re supposed to stop?” I knew I had done something wrong and the big letter “R” for “reserve spouse” was burning brightly on my back. “Yeah,” the boy said. “Well, some people don’t…” he trailed off.
I’m going to say he was trying to make me feel better about my faux pas.
“No!” I said, eager to be part of the ritual. “I want to. Let’s stop.” So we stopped and listened as the last note faded into the wind.
While we loaded the grocery bags into the trunk he explained that it’s played each evening. “I had no idea,” I said, still embarrassed, mentally lecturing my husband, part time soldier for more than 10 years at the time, and wondering how I had missed this in all the years since I discovered the commissary had cereal for half the price of my local Safeway. I paid the bagger for his help and his lesson and went on my way.
Several years later I’m sitting outside the Home and Garden store on another post, in another part of the country, when I hear the faint sound of that familiar trumpet tune. I feel confident. I know what to do. But then I freeze.
Do I get out? Or stay in the car?