August 3, 2006
Dougherty County -- It doesn't seem likely, especially at a macho Marine Corps base. A mystery man prevents a debilitating condition that plagues people in and out of the armed forces. He does it by what some people call a sissy way of dealing with it.
A shopper can look forward to finding a good buy at the Marine Corps Logistic base's commissary that looks like a small grocery store. "I've been coming here for about 10 years," says Ethel Edwards, who besides looks for bargains, looks forward to checking on someone special. "He's a very nice man. I like him," she says, eyeing the checkout area of the store.
She is referring to Joseph Prince who sits alone in a row of five metal chairs with blue seats and backs. Joseph hears the cashier asking a customer, "Is paper OK?" as he walks toward one of the checkout counters.
He is one of several people who deals with the stresses of bagging groceries, since some customers are rather finicky. "Double bags, but I want my bags light," says Joseph when asked what was stressful about putting groceries in paper or plastic bags.
Some customers want the best of both worlds. "Want plastic bag inside a paper bag?" asks Joseph. And he remembers their preferences. "I bag the groceries the way they want it," he says as he puts a filled bag in a buggy to carry out.
Customer satisfaction ranks high with baggers, because they work for tips only at the Base. Customer satisfaction gets measured in dollars and cents immediately. Besides a talent for bagging groceries just like the customers want at the commissary, Joseph has another talent. "I've always wanted to do this since I was a little boy," says Joseph soon after delivering several bags of groceries to a car.
Joseph uses his time wisely, instead of drinking a soda or smoking between customers, he crochets, making bed and baby blankets. A friend taught him how six years ago, and Joseph learned quickly. "It took them about 15 minutes to show me how to do it."
And, he found crocheting improves his quality of life. "It relieves the stress and gives you piece of mind," says Joseph. He has become a fixture at the commissary, with some customers looking at him with a tinge of envy. "I wish I could crochet," says Ethel Edwards. Joseph Price is obsessed with it. "Out of a 24 hour day, I'd say I spend about 15 hours of it crocheting," says Joseph.
He does it so much that it wears out needles. "It gets so hot that it breaks," says Joseph, who thinks he's made about 150 blankets. "I don't count them. I just make them," says Joseph, who sells or gives them away.
At the end of his day when people must deal with the workday stress, Joseph Prince has already dealt with his, zipping up his portable stress reliever and carrying it with in a bag all its own.