Over the Hill

Resolutions: I’ll shop at new Paso Robles Smart and Final, but not Volkswagen

I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I may make a few. I made this decision on Tuesday after going to my usual barbershop here in Paso Robles. It’s at one end of a shopping center. The parking lot for that end of the shopping center was nearly empty.

A few lonesome cars and pickups dotted the parking lot. It looked like a big, almost sold-out used car lot. Business at that end of the shopping center seemed to be drying up. I guess it was because the big supermarket there was closed. A bank branch at that end of the shopping center has also been closed for awhile.

The closed supermarket had belonged to Haggen Food and Pharmacy of Bellingham, Wash. But Haggen filed for bankruptcy in September. That happened just months after the company expanded from 18 stores to 164. It did that by buying 146 Vons, Albertsons, Safeway and Pavilions stores. The store near the barbershop had been a Vons.

So, I was pleased Saturday when I read in the Tribune that that supermarket near my barbershop will soon reopen as a Smart and Final Extra. As I understand it, “Extra” means larger than the traditional Smart and Final warehouse stores.

The guys at the barbershop confirmed the Smart and Final takeover news, so I decided to make a New Year’s resolution. I resolved to give the reopened store some of my business, insignificant though I am. More supermarket competition will be good for Paso Robles.

The closed bank building may also reopen soon. SESLOC Federal Credit Union announced plans last fall to move its Paso Robles branch to that building.

Another New Year’s resolution I decided to make is to never, ever buy a Volkswagen. The Volkswagen car company admitted in September that it put secret devices in its diesel vehicles to violate air pollution rules.

The company tricked our clean-air officials into believing diesel Volkswagens produced less air pollution than they really did. Volkswagen has admitted distributing 11 million of the gimmicked vehicles worldwide, including 500,000 in the United States. They included the 2009 through 2015 model years.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Volkswagen for allegedly putting devices into almost 600,000 vehicles for the purpose of violating our air pollution laws.

Researchers for the federal government and the state of California say those gimmicked Volkswagens belch out up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide. I’ve read that’s the stuff that brings on smog and illness.

I’ll never buy a Volkswagen. How could I trust a Volkswagen salesman?

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.