Can Beer-ly Understand You

, , | Right | August 5, 2019

(I’m a customer in the small, local neighbourhood store on a Saturday evening. A person walks straight up to my face while I’m browsing the snack shelves and speaks in heavily French-accented English. Norwegian government has banned selling of alcohol after 8:00 pm on weekdays and 6:00 pm on Saturdays.)

Customer: “Beer?”

(Bemused, I blink a bit and answer somewhat hesitantly.)

Me: “Okay?”

Customer: “I want to buy beer. Where is it?”

(I point to the far wall where the coolers are.)

Me: “It’s over there. But since it’s after 6:00 pm, you won’t be allowed to buy any.”

Customer: “But I want to buy beer!”

Me: “Yes, but the cooler has been locked, and they won’t sell it to you. I’m sorry.”

(He steps further into my comfort zone and I can even smell his breath.)

Customer: “Please! Only one beer! Please.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but that’s the rules. I can’t do anything about it.”

Customer: “No, just one beer. Please!”

Me: “It’s the law. It’s after 6:00 pm, and the coolers are locked.” 

Customer: “Why?”

Me: “Because the government has decided so. It’s been like that for many years.”

Customer: “But just one beer. Please!”

Me: “I’m not the one who decides that. I’m really sorry, but you can’t buy any beer.” 

(He hangs his head dejectedly and turns to his friend who’s been standing silent in the background. They speak rapidly in French before turning back to me again. However, before he can continue begging, I raise my hands up to sort of ward him off.)

Me: “There is nothing I can do. I’m sorry, but that is the truth.” 

(He exchanges some words with his friend again, and they disappear around the aisle. Grabbing the things I want to buy, I get in line at the cashier. The same person comes up behind me and all but leans over my back and shoulder — I’m 5’4″ and he’s easily 6″ — to speak to the woman who’s working there, and ends up doing an almost complete rehearsal of the previous conversation with me. Having been told a simple “no” over and over again, he and his friend finally exit the store without further trouble. The cashier and I look at each other.)

Cashier: “I wonder if he really thought begging was going to get him anywhere, or if his English wasn’t good enough to really understand it.”

Me: “Who knows, but I have a feeling every store from here and down to the center of the city will be getting in on the show, as well.”

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