Benjamin Franklin's aphorism about death and taxes being the only certainties in life gives short shrift to a third such inevitability -- change.
It can be good or bad, but change happens. Always. And, sadly sometimes, we can seldom control it.
Nowhere is that more true than in the business world. Wise business leaders in these modern times understand this truth. As a society, we have grown to relish it in the tech world and a few other places, but now Bay Area consumers and workers face major change at an iconic landmark of stability, Safeway supermarkets.
Safeway, which is the nation's second largest grocery store chain and a virtual institution in Northern California, is being sold to Cerberus, the New York private equity firm that owns rival Albertsons. That $9.4 billion sale means Safeway will merge with Albertsons, the nation's fifth largest grocery retailer.
The deal must still be approved by the Federal Trade Commission, but we expect it will eventually do so.
The sale almost certainly will jolt Safeway's customers and, especially, its workers. Officials have said it will be business as usual for the two companies until after the first of the year.
Of course, two of the primary purposes for spending such an enormous amount of money on an acquisition is for the new company to have far greater reach and much more operating efficiency. It is difficult to see how that could be accomplished without some serious payroll and overhead shrinkage.
To us, that portends the closing of Bay Area stores in 2015 and, yes, there will be layoffs. It also is unlikely the new company will maintain two corporate headquarters. Safeway is based in Pleasanton and Albertsons in Idaho, where it is far cheaper to do business.
Anyone who has been through this type of transaction, regardless of the industry, surely has empathy for the employees and their families. A once relatively stable source of employment is threatened, seemingly overnight. We are certain that people who depend on it for their livelihood are nervous, anxious and even frightened.
Ironically, that sort of employee anxiety can actually cause a temporary decrease in the productivity of the workforce. It is just human nature.
The merger also will force shoppers to deal with different products, procedures and shopping locations.
But many merger cases have demonstrated that money alone does not guarantee success. In the end, the new entity's viability will hinge upon the shopping experience offered and the people who offer it. The new owners would be well served to remember that as they begin to manage this inevitable change.