Further Adventures in Commerce
The wine store. A big fellow, maybe my age, dressed in black t-shirt and ill-fitting shorts stands there talking into his phone. Loudly. His wife is on the other end. Waiting on the big fellow is the wine store clerk, a wiry young guy with an artisanal red beard. He looks like a vegetarian. I’m one myself and am pretty good at spotting another. I’m on the other side of the wine store, waiting at the checkout stand. Nobody else in the store. I want to pay for this jug of Chardonnay and be on my way. It’s an old story.
The wine store clerk sees me and shoots me an apologetic look that says: “I’ll be with you as soon as I can, but get a load of this guy. It may be a while.” A lot can be shot in a look. I feel like the wine store guy and I are now buddies, of a kind. The kind you make in a lifeboat.
The big fellow speaks into his phone with a booming voice. The voice would be enough to rattle the bottles on the shelves. I think I can hear them. Voices like that make you wonder why they even need a phone. If the man’s wife is in the same county, surely she can hear his voice just fine without the phone. “Action at a distance”—that’s the old definition of magic—though there’s nothing magical about this wine store scene. Not for me anyway.
The voice goes boom: “I’ve just spent over a half hour in this wine store. You gotta tell me what you want me to get you. Why? Why?! Because THEY GOT ALL KINDS OF WINE HERE! That’s why! Like what?! Like what?! They got Cabernets. They got Pinots. They got Merlots.” He pronounces all the “t”s in those names. “Like what?! Like red wines and white wines and pink stuff. What?! Tell me some more wine names.” That last sentence is aimed at the wine store clerk. He utters a few more wine names. The man’s voice repeats the names back into the phone. I listen to the clinking of bottles on the shelves.
The voice finishes repeating the names. The bottles on the shelves go quiet. A pause ensues. Then the voice resumes, apparently taking up a new subject. “Whatever you do, don’t get chuck steak! Chuck steak is nasty stuff! NO CHUCK STEAK!”
The wine store clerk shoots me another look. I shoot one back. We’re like a couple of guys playing catch on a fine spring day. Like a couple vegetarians who now know a little something about chuck steak.