Make us your home page
Instagram

Carlton: Please, Publix, give peace (and pastrami) a chance

Dear Publix,

Okay, let's get the sappy part out of the way.

Some of us who grew up with you — walking through your automatic doors into the smell of baking bread, weighing ourselves since kindergarten on those big scales in your lobbies, watching polite bag boys roll our moms' groceries to the car — well, we would sooner bleed Publix green than shop another store.

So for us, the news this week was small but devastating.

The traditionally free slice of deli meat — a courtesy reverently passed across the deli counter from plastic-gloved clerk to customer awaiting his half-pound of cracked pepper turkey — is no more.

At least not at a few dozen Publixes where the company is, in a spokesman's disheartening words, "piloting a change."

Oh, sure, you can request that piece of pastrami. But as anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, if you have to ask, well, let's just say the magic is running low.

What's next? Banning the free bakery cookie that has quieted generations of cranky kids, potentially preventing them from hurling themselves from their shopping cart seats to run down the aisles, knocking over pyramids of pickle jars and pasta boxes?

Perish the very idea.

But seriously, Publix, have you thought this through?

Because that wafer-thin circle of smoked ham — that little slice of kindness passed from you to us for as long as we can remember — has nothing to do with being free. Okay, maybe for some hard-core moochers it does. But for a lot us, it has more to do with being nice.

You remember nice.

Maybe you have noticed a little tension in the world lately. No matter our political stripe, most of us cannot remember being so clearly and angrily separated into Them and Us. We road rage. We get violent over a cellphone in a movie theater or our neighbor's wind chimes.

Even when someone remembers to say thank you for, say, holding the elevator for some for-the-love-of-god-would-you-hurry-up slowpoke, the currently accepted response is "no problem." Better than nothing, but don't you miss "you're welcome"?

Wouldn't Publix's patriarch, the late George "Where Shopping Is a Pleasure" Jenkins, be mortified at this Taking Back of the Slice? It's right there on the company website under "Lessons From Our Founder" — six values in which he believed, like "Invest in Others" (by giving them a taste of tavern ham!) and "Treat Customers Like Royalty."

Not like greedy grifters who now must beg for a bite.

Though Publix says it's not about cutting costs, do we really believe them? Surely their bean counters know to the penny how many millions of pounds of Muenster and maple ham have been given out gratis over the years.

But I ask you — what about all the goodwill this gesture has surely engendered for just as long?

It's unknowable, I know. But how many middle fingers were not raised in traffic? How many shouting arguments over small slights never did spark, because someone had a nice moment at the deli counter and was one infinitesimal iota less tense?

Please, Publix, loosen up on the lunch meat. Rethink the roast beef.

Think peace, through pastrami.

Sincerely,

A loyal customer

Carlton: Please, Publix, give peace (and pastrami) a chance 02/10/17 [Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2017 5:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SEC says hackers may have profited from stolen info

    Business

    The Securities and Exchange Commission says its corporate filing system was hacked last year and the intruders may have used the nonpublic information they obtained to profit illegally.

    In this file photo, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman nominee Jay Clayton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. The SEC says a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. [AP file photo]
  2. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates

    Banking

    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  3. After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?

    News

    NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about …

    The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area opened its doors to anyone seeking temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. Evacuees were housed in the Istaba multipurpose building and was quickly at capacity housing over 500 people. [Saturday, September 9, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  4. When elders are in peril, who do you call — 911 or Rick Scott's cell?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Twelve hours after Irma blasted through South Florida, conditions at Larkin Community Hospital in Hollywood were miserable.

    Police surround the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which had no air conditioning after Hurricane Irma knocked out power, on Sept. 13 in Hollywood. So far, nine deaths have been blamed on the incedent. [John McCall | South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
  5. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]