Adapting to the 'little' alterations requires a lot of patience

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

There is a rumor floating around like dandelion fluff on the wind that change is good. Maybe it is. Maybe change shakes us loose from whatever rut we are in and gives us a new focus or direction. But there are times when change does not feel good, or at least not good to everyone. So this is my opinion, worth exactly what you pay for it, about some changes going on in Kenai.

It may very well be that as we grow older, we resist change a little more than we did when we were young and could embrace it, but it seems to me that the changes going on in Kenai are too many, too fast. Or maybe we've had so few big changes lately such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions, oil pipelines, or the like, that the little changes bother us more.

For instance, Carrs. I've been shopping at Carrs for 20 years in Kenai, both the old store and the new. This is the first time they've changed so drastically that I can't find anything.

It takes me forever to fill my three-item grocery list. I pity those shopping for big families. Exactly what is all this "renovation" about? I'm not sure I'll like it any better when they are done. How long will it take me to learn this changed floor plan, to head right to the mayonnaise or the bread or find the eggs and lettuce? The biggest question I hear in there now, instead of, "Hi, how are you?" is, "Do you know where the (fill in the blank) is?" I'd just like to know where my old Carrs store is, frankly.

There are other changes in Kenai I dislike. One of which was the closing of the Big Kmart store. I never realized how much I depended on that store until it was gone. In the short few years it was here I quickly adapted to having it; now I can hardly bear its closure. Does that make any sense at all? I'm back to having a list by the phone of the things I'll buy in Anchorage the next time I go there.

Sad. I hate it.

I'd so much rather shop locally but many of the things I want or need, such as women's clothing, men's work boots, books, household items, etc., are not carried by stores in Kenai. So my list grows. Or, in the alternative, I find a Web site and order on the Internet.

These are things I'd rather not have to do, but lack of local availability forces my hand. Losing Kmart was an awful change, not only for us who shopped there, but for the people who worked there and made it the "hometown" friendly store it became. I can't adapt to this one.

Other businesses change hands and change policies and either attract new customers or drive old ones to distraction with changes until they find another place they like, a familiar place. A place where they can be comfortable.

My exercise place changed hands recently. It's not the same. The people who usually come when I'm there don't come anymore. The room's configuration is different, the atmosphere changed. It won't be long before I find somewhere else to go, somewhere comfortable. I can only hope the new place won't change after I settle in to my routine. My comfortable, unchanged rut.

Maybe the real reason we dislike change is the lack of control we feel, like we can't stop it or slow it down; it just happens. I know some change is good, like weather, clean sheets and underwear, or oil in the car, and it isn't bad to change your habits from time to time (of course, we would adopt no bad habits, only good ones), but if change is good, so are ruts.

Like routines and reliable good friends, I don't want some things to change. I want them to stay the same forever or at least for my lifetime. About the things that do change, I just keep smiling and repeating to myself through gritted teeth, like a little engine that can, "I will adapt. I will adapt. I will adapt."

Marilyn E. Wheeless is a lifelong Alaskan who resides in Kenai, where she writes, paints, crafts and is actively involved with the Kenai Writers' Group and Pioneers of Alaska.

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