Part II: ge-og-ra-phy

Mr. and Mrs. Publix,

I didn’t expect to be reaching out to you again, but J in Customer Care has forced by hand.

Perhaps, you recall my post on Might Be Baloney titled ge-og-ra- phy back on May 12, 2020. I’m guessing since I’m hearing back from J in Customer Care that just maybe you did not take the time to read the post. 

While that is a disappointment, I think I understand.  Lots of normal things have been turned upside down by this pandemic. 

And I’m sure you have bigger upside down things to worry about other than some wacky, screw loose, bozo whining about truth in your print ad related to ge-og-ra-phy.

However, just to quickly bring you up to speed, in the blog post I questioned the accuracy of your print ad specifically the section titled:  Southern-grown produce. 

I pointed out one very obvious inaccuracy on that page. The advertisement implied that pineapples were grown in the southern part of the United States. 

While it is true that pineapples have long been a symbol of hospitality in the South, they are not grown in enough massive quantities in the South to supply all of your Publix stores. 

In the same post, I also took a swipe at your beer pricing. It is a tad on the high side. Specifically, the pricing of Anchor Steam Beer is outrageous.

I know the concerns I reported to you were upsetting. I still recall the blubbering with your tears, nose mucus, and slobber. It took several minutes for you both to regain your composure. But, if you had read the blog post, you might have noted I diplomatically gave you an out. Here is what you missed.

First, I promised no congressional investigation. And I want you to know, I wouldn’t wish a congressional investigation on my worst enemy. But, you need to know too that J’s response from Customer Care continued to insult the dignity of my proper North Carolina education.

Second, at this time, no one from your communication or advertising staff has signed up to take Miss Helen Crump’s ge- og- ra- phy  class at the unheard of price of $19.99. 

This is particularly troubling news for you because that means her most acclaimed student, Dr. Ernest T. Bass, is warming up his arm down in Old Man Kelsey’s bullpen. Just be warned if summoned into action, Dr. Bass will not be hurling baseballs.

Third, here is the most curious point of interest for me. The 45 loyal followers who read every boring word from my blog site, many of them (well, at least 2) wanted to be alerted if I struck a deal with Publix on lowering the price of the Anchor Steam Beer.

What does that tell you about American consumers and my loyal followers?

I’m not sure, but I digress.

Look, Mr. and Mrs. Publix, I really, really take no pleasure in bringing you more bad news. But, I expect the next several minutes to be moments of uncontrollable blubbering with mass quantities of tears, nose mucus, and slobbering coming forth from the depths of your mission statement.

For the last two weeks, I have been carefully tracking the weekly print ad in the Richmond Times-Dispatch—specifically, inspecting the Southern-grown produce page. I really hate to do this to you, but I feel J in Customer Care left me no choice when J’s e-mail stated the following:

We appreciate you contacting us with your valued feedback. Please know that your valued feedback has been shared with the appropriate business areas.

If my “valued feedback has been shared with the appropriate business areas,” then why do the May 14 and 21 flyers raise the following red flags for me:

May 14:  15 types of produce were listed, 9 were clearly labeled as being grown in states that are certified to be in the Southeast by Dr. Bass, the strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower were labeled as California grown, Brussel sprouts labeled USA, and apples the state of Washington. Here is the best one from the ad, the red seedless grapes came from Chile. Chile is in the South, but that would be as in South America.

And to add to your steady flow of facial oriented bodily fluids, the price of Anchor Steam Beer was still $11.99.

May 21:  13 types of produce were listed, 7 were certified by Dr. Bass as being birthed in states known to be in the Southeast, however, potato inspiration potatoes, cherries, and peaches were grown in California, raspberries and mangoes Mexico, and hero gala apples from the state of Washington.

Sadly, once again, there was no drop in the price of Anchor Steam Beer.

I’d offer you my handkerchief again, but I think you are going to need a couple of boxes of facial tissue to stop the flow. 

Perhaps, we should stop for a few minutes for a powder room break so that you can attempt to regain your composure.

No, you prefer to plow ahead. Well, I admire your courage. Because, you are really going to need it for the reporting of the last, but most egregious error.

Now, I’m not making this up, but the ad on May 21 contained the following at the bottom of the Southern-grown produce page, middle column:  Memorial Day Bouquet In Spectacular Patriotic Colors, each $9.99.

Mr. Publix, I’m sorry, but did Mrs. Publix just pass out?

Are you certain she is ok?

What is your question?

Am I certain an ad for flowers was on your produce page?

Yes, I’m certain. Like I said in my first blog post I am a somewhat honorable person. 

Again, I’m sorry for bringing this to your attention, but J really left me no choice. I’ll tell you what kind of pushed me over the edge was when J stated in the e-mail the following:

We always enjoy hearing from our customers, and we appreciate the trust you have placed in us as your grocer of choice.

Now, Mr. and Mrs. Publix if I as a consumer really trusted you would I be going through all of this? I think you know the answer. And at this stage in our relationship, I believe even Gomer and Goober could figure out that your stores are not my grocer of choice. 

Perhaps, you recall the movie Cool Hand Luke, and that famous line spoken by actor Strother Martin, who portrayed the Captain, the prison warden. He spoke these words to Luke in one anguished scene:  “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

I’ll be honest, my first attempt to communicate with you was providing a link to my blog to your local newspaper, the Lakeland Ledger. 

Since Publix is headquartered in Lakeland, it is unlikely that an editor or publisher might take a risk and post an op-ed piece from a kooky wanna be writer in Richmond, who clearly has too much time on his hands, and who pokes fun at a huge Southern company over ge-og-ra-phy.

Now, here is the thing. I don’t want J to be unemployed. I’m sure J is a nice person who has the challenge of responding to stubborn old geezers like me. 

But, here is what really is making me nuts besides the disgraceful price of the Anchor Steam Beer and the dignity of my North Carolina education—it is school teachers and the students they teach throughout the Southeast.

 Your Southern-grown produce advertisement isn’t helping either one of them.

Truth be told your Southern-grown produce advertisement would probably be a terrific instructional tool in the classroom. The ad is a very good example of how a company failed to properly research and vet the products they sell before they print an ad.

I’m assuming your company has no idea how challenging it is for a classroom teacher to convey to students that contrary to the Publix flyer, the pineapples your parents purchased at the local Publix were not grown in the Southeast. 

The same goes for any produce in your ad that implies they were Southern grown. And I am truly sorry, but there is just no reasonable explanation for a bouquet of flowers being advertised on a produce page—unless your layout personnel were toying with me.

Please don’t toy with me. Toying with me would be like trying to remove a hungry black snake from a hen house—a bad idea.

Yes, I know that flowers and blossoms of some vegetables have been layered or folded into menus at elegant restaurants, but the typical Southern mother isn’t cooking edible flowers and vegetable blooms for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Even though he loves his wife to the depths of his heart, no husband is going to pull out sautéed flower petals from his lunch pail as a condiment for a center cut bologna and cheese sandwich.

Here’s the deal:   with technology, a bit of common sense, and some good research with your well-established produce suppliers, Publix should be able within a reasonable period of time to improve the ge-og-ra-phy communication on your Southern-grown produce page.

Yes, Mrs. Publix, what is your question, can I define a reasonable period of time?

Well, I know in the South we sometimes move at a slug’s pace, but in truth I thought you would have corrected this tiny little nit picking detail already.

I want to be a wise guy and tell you a reasonable amount of time is 30 seconds, but just to be fair let’s say 31 days. And just to be even more kindhearted, I’ll suggest a solution for resolving this dilemma.

Here is my suggestion break the page into three sections under one heading:  Fresh Produce.  To be followed by:

Produce sourced from farmers in Southeastern states

Produce sourced from farmers in the USA

Produce sourced from farmers around the world

I’m sure you employ people a lot smarter than me who can figure this out. But in truth, that flower bouquet on the produce page is starting to cause me some serious doubts about their capacity to figure this out. 

In closing, people who know me will tell you that I’m pretty quiet, and mild-mannered. I don’t make threats. I just diplomatically try to point out a concern. 

And, while I have not carefully researched the Publix commitment to local schools in terms of monetary gifts, I know from your initial push into the Richmond grocery market that you did help some schools in neighborhoods close to your stores.

 If you have the courage to financially assist schools, then you should have the courage to reasonably correct the Southern-grown produce page to the benefit of teachers and their students throughout the Southeast.

Finally, this one time offer ought to stop the blubbering.

 Correct the wording of the Southern-grown produce ad for the rest of my life, and I’ll forget about your lousy price on the Anchor Steam Beer. 

But, if you can’t improve the ge -og- ra -phy in that weekly flyer, expect me to continue to be just as pesky and pesty as Dr. Ernest T. Bass.

And if I bring along my pal Earl Stanley Yarville as a consultant, I can’t promise you that we won’t land on an op-ed page of a major newspaper in the Southeast. 

While that might never happen, if it does, I can assure you I will try my best to highlight the errors of your ge- og- ra- phy.

While at this point, I am disappointed in your response, I realize that COVID-19 is burning lots of your energy.

I patiently await J’s next follow-up from Customer Care.

And don’t forget, Dr. Bass is impatiently warming up his throwing arm in Old Man Kelsey’s bullpen.

Rain kissed dogwood petals awaiting harvesting for a lunch pail

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