Saturday, May 26, 2018
Opinion

Publix renovation plan creates discomfort

To put this into some twisted perspective, the eccentricities of Tony Shalhoub's obsessive-compulsive detective in Monk always seemed to be perfectly reasonable. Excuse me while I grab an antibacterial wipe.

And Dustin Hoffman's idiot savant in Rain Man certainly came off as more together than his brother. By the way, did I mention I'm an excellent driver?

So please forgive me if in the middle of this piece I curl up in a fetal position and start sucking down the business end of a bottle of Dewar's.

Publix is about to literally move my cheese. This is not good for someone who needs to live a somewhat ordered life. I am not happy.

And I don't think I'm alone. I am one of those people who takes comfort in doing roughly the same thing at roughly the same time — every, single, stinking, lousy day.

I like the security of sameness. Some of you might think of this as boring. For the Bombshell of the Balkans, it defines almost 21 years of marriage. And yes, I feel sorry for her, too.

On Saturdays I have a schedule: pick up the dry cleaning at McNatt's, buy the lottery tickets (same store, same numbers — every week), followed by grocery shopping at the Publix at Dale Mabry Highway and Fletcher Avenue and then home in time for Jacques Pépin's cooking show on public television.

By the way, did I mention I'm a man of excitement?

It is bad enough when WEDU completely blows up my schedule by replacing Pépin with some half-baked faux guru peddling self-help scams during fundraising beg-a-thons. But now a cruel, insensitive Publix is about to turn my life into a dark, bottomless pit of despair.

At the end of the month, Publix is closing the Dale Mabry store for several months to remodel. By the way, did I mention this is unacceptable?

Oh sure people like you, reasonable people, might well think: "What's the big deal? There are only 957,845 other Publix markets (and that's just Tampa). Surely I can find another Publix to tide me over while the Dale Mabry store undergoes a facelift."

This sort of addled thinking completely misses the point.

I like my Publix just as it is, just where it is. Even worse, in a few weeks I'll have to begin auditions to find a new one. And that means I'll have to start going into strange, different markets at other locations. I will have to refamiliarize myself with where all the food is. I might have to approach someone and ask where I can find the frozen pizza. I will have to change my routine, my schedule. How do people live like this?

This is a crisis of produce. Well, okay, if you insist, this is also probably a crisis born of being a bit cainotophobic, or having an anxiety over newness, because let's face it, nothing good can ever come from changing stuff around — especially the dairy section.

For those customers whose carefully structured patterns of life are being turned into a shambles by Publix's indifference to human suffering, the company has an obligation to see us through months of uncertainty as we roam the moors of Hillsborough County looking in vain for an alternative grocery — and waiting for the exile to end.

Perhaps it might be possible to visit the store during the remodeling, just to look in the window and remember the old days.

Whoever said the more things change, the more they stay the same never went grocery shopping with me. Not that I could ever put up with that anyway.

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