Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, I’m a Publix man. I don’t shop at other grocery stores very often.
The main reason for this is because I’ve spent the majority of my life living within a mile or two from a Publix. I have a long history of visiting this local supermarket, even when I don’t need groceries. I just like the store.
It’s pleasant. People are cheerful. I like to walk around the aisles singing along with the overhead music, getting free samples from the lady at the free-sample kiosk who always smiles at me, warmly, and says in a motherly voice, “This is your last sample, sir, or I’m calling security.”
I have friends who work at Publix. Usually, I see my pal, Shawn, stocking shelves. He’s worked there for years. Shawn always waves. I always wave back. This is such a little, almost insignificant gesture, but you don’t get this kind of thing at big-box stores.
When I was a younger man, I played music with local bands. I was sort of
a utility musician for hire. I drove long distances to play loud music in beer joints, taverns, roadhouses, saloons, frat parties, Methodist quilting clubs, etc.
So I was always clocking off work late at night. And I was always starving. Musicians spend their lives on the brink of starvation. There’s an old saying among musicians: “A musician without a wife or a girlfriend probably lives under a bridge.”
But getting back to Publix. Every night after work—and I mean EVERY night—I would stop by the store for a deli sandwich. Always the same thing. Roast beef on white. Extra mustard and mayo. Add pickles.
It was always the same lady behind the deli counter, waiting for me. She knew I was coming. She would have my sandwich wrapped and waiting. It would still be warm. I don’t know how she did it.
One night, she…