I needed to replenish the vermouth so I went to the local state store. In Pennsylvania the state has a monopoly on hard liquor sales, so most everyone calls the liquor stores, which are owned and operated by the state, state stores.
I knew where the vermouth was stocked, but I found that although they had dry vermouth in the the small, medium, and large size bottles, the medium size sweet vermouth, which is the size I wanted, was not to be found.
So I went in search of someone to ask for help.
Alas, although the gentleman that I asked for help was well into his middle age, at least judging by his appearance, he presumably was a newby when it came to selling liquor.
“Do you have the sweet vermouth in this size bottle?” I asked as I held up the medium bottle of dry vermouth.
“Which is the sweet vermouth?” was his reply.
I pointed to a large size bottle of the sweet vermouth.
“Oh, the red label. So that’s sweet vermouth. Never knew that.”
There was an empty space next to the medium dry vermouth, which was clearly where the medium sweet vermouth had been stocked, but his eyes remained laser focused on the large size bottle for some reason.
Then he began fiddling with the shelf table in front of the large bottles for some reason as he said, “No, we only carry the sweet vermouth in these two sizes.” He pointed to the small and large bottles.
I said, “I’ve been coming here for years and I always get the medium size bottles so I know that you stock them.”
Then he pointed to the large bottles and said, “Look, there isn’t that much difference between the medium and large bottles.”
“There is to me.” The large bottles don’t fit on my shelf, but I didn’t tell him that. Ain’t nobody’s business but my own.
I was becoming indignant by this point, but I was trying to control myself.
“Are you sure we have them?” he asked.
“Yes. Usually when I ask about them, someone will go into the back room and check if you have them there.”
“Oh. Well, wait here.”
As if I was going somewhere.
Now I’m about the most impatient person that I know, in fact, I might be the most impatient person on this planet, but I swear, when he disappeared into that back room, he reappeared so quickly with a box in his hands, it was almost as if there was someone waiting there to hand it to him. It was that fast.
As he brought the box over, he said, “I think this might be the size you’re looking for.”
And it was!
He handed me a bottle, I thanked him, and I went to check out.
As a postscript, I should point out that this fellow was an exception. Nearly all the state store employees are friendly and helpful and don’t need to be goaded into checking the back room stock.