By Calvin Palmer
“Publix would prefer you took your custom elsewhere.”
That remark was directed at me this morning by the manager of the fresh produce section of the Publix store at the Roosevelt Square Shopping Center, on Jacksonville’s Westside, after I had voiced some criticism of his department.
Since when has a lowly manager become the arbiter of who may or may not shop at Publix?
The remark came after he said, “You aren’t from around here, are you?”
I guess the interpretation of “around” is pretty loose but my with my English accent, it was fairly obvious that I wasn’t born in the United States. However, I have resided in the country for 12 years and for the last five years in Jacksonville, Florida.
When I replied in the negative, the fresh produce manager issued his appalling statement. Talk about a redneck mentality.
This altercation all started when I noticed one of the plastic-bag dispensers was empty, forcing me to go back and forth to a dispenser that did have bags.
I noticed an assistant filling shelves close by and wondered how many times he had passed the empty dispenser without giving a moment’s thought to replenishing the plastic bags.
It was then I noticed someone else filling one of the display stands. He was not wearing a green Publix T-shirt, so I figured he was more than likely a manager and wearing a shirt of his own choosing was probably one of the perks of the job.
When I pointed out the empty dispenser, he said that he could replenish it or I could use the other one, which had plenty of bags.
I said, “That’s a marvellous attitude, isn’t it? I am expected to traipse back and forth to get a plastic bag.”
He went to fill up the dispenser.
A little later, I passed him again and said that I was not complaining out of ignorance. I told him that I grew up in a grocery store and knew how to treat customers and present fresh produce for sale
He replied, “Publix is the best store there is.”
I said, “Not quite. Many times you have rotting fruit and veg on display and ask top dollar for it.”
“You aren’t from around here, are you?”
“Publix would prefer it if you took your custom elsewhere.”
“We will see what the store manager has to say about that.”
“Go ahead. The name is…” He gave his name.
After completing my shopping and checking out at the till, I said to the assistant that I wanted to see the manager.
The manager duly came and I recounted the incident with his fresh produce manager who seems to have an attitude problem.
The manager assured me that he would have a word. I said I think it needs something stronger than a word, with an attitude like that he probably needs to be fired.
“I’ll take care of it, sir,” the manager replied.
What I found appalling was the fact that not being American was followed by the suggestion to shop elsewhere.
It struck me as being like the Tea Party approach to customer care.
Perhaps Publix should incorporate this rhyme in its advertising material:
If you are red, white and blue, we are here to serve you. If you belong to the stars and stripes, we will listen to all your gripes. But if you are not true to Uncle Sam then frankly we don’t give a damn!
It always amazes me that people who cannot deal with the public end up in jobs dealing with the public. Appointing this guy to the position of fresh produce manager does not say much for the recruitment and selection process adopted by Publix.
Then again political donations given by Publix in the past eight years clearly point to how a person holding such bigoted views is able to reach the position he has within the company.