Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

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

Comments
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. In preliminary findings of ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18