So I order a small soft-serve ice cream, one of my few splurges these days, and pull around to the drive-through window. My eyes squint with confusion as I'm handed a container the size of a sippy cup — at least 2 ounces smaller than the last time I paid my 99 cents here.
I stop by my favorite cafe, get the same thing I always do, small coffee with a bagel and cream cheese. The cashier quotes my total: $4.47. A full 43 cents more than I paid the week before.
With wrinkled forehead, I say: "Did your prices go up?"
With straight face, he says: "A little bit."
I grab the coffee cup. Is it me or does it feel skinnier?
You see where I'm going with this, right? Surely you have more than enough examples of your own. We don't need to bother with lofty debates about stock market trading. In our everyday lives — at the grocery checkout, in the fast-food drive-through, while back-to-school shopping — it seems we're all getting less.
This is why I'm glad to be part of at least one thing that's getting bigger, not smaller.
Beginning Aug. 21, the St. Petersburg Times will offer readers more community news with an added Sunday edition of North of Tampa. The fact is, more people than ever are perusing the Times in Hillsborough, and our circulation for the Tampa edition currently tops 111,000 on Sundays.
As a twice-weekly section, North of Tampa will freshen up a bit with a slight design change. Still, we'll continue to cover issues affecting your home and neighborhood. We'll still highlight your youth baseball team's big win and profile your neighbors, now every Friday and Sunday.
In addition to the quality news you've come to expect, a few notable names promise to boost the variety of our report. Popular columnists Daniel Ruth and Ernest Hooper will be regulars, and so will local gardening savant Penny Carnathan.
Plus, in a new feature called Hometown Hillsborough, we'll feature items that you send us. Read: golden anniversary photos, military graduate announcements, news of that award-winning stamp collection.
There's just one other thing that a few of you may notice. North of Tampa will no longer be mailed for free to select homes in northern Hillsborough. From now on, it'll be available to Times subscribers in our area and people who buy off the rack.
But you knew something like that was coming, right?
So I'm at the Hyundai dealership with a mechanic standing over me, holding the dingy air filter removed from my car. It's time for a new one.
"For an air filter?" Wasn't there a time when I could get that for around 30 bucks?
"Yours is kind of hard to get to," he tells me. "It's way up under there."
Reluctantly, I give him a nod for the go-ahead. I snap open a copy of the day's paper to pass the time.
Contact Sharon Tubbs at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3394.