A Human Pairing As Good As Wine

, , , , , | Working | March 7, 2018

(This happens on my first day working in a new grocery store, well over a decade ago, when Google is new. A customer I have just helped with something in the bakery finds me while I’m on a break:)

Customer: “Oh, good! It’s you! You’re so nice; can you help me choose some wine?”

Me: “No, sorry. I’m—”

Customer: “Oh, nonsense! You’re the perfect person to help me!”

Me: “I’m not—”

Customer: *launches into an incredibly detailed description of her dinner, the various wine choices, and what a chore it is to choose wine*

Me: “I don’t know anything about wine pairings. I’m sorry.”

Customer: “Well, why not?!”

Me: *pauses to steady my nerves* “I’m 19, ma’am.”

Customer: “WELL, WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY SO?!” *realizes her volume and pauses* “Oh, I’m so sorry. I really shouldn’t have shouted there, yeah. Do you know how to find something that would go well with my chicken parmesan?”

Me: “No, I’m sorry. The Internet might know. Google would help a lot more than I can, sorry.”

Customer: “You know, I don’t really know if I have that Internet thing at my house, but I do have a computer. If I don’t have the Google, my son can install a Google on it… Oh, and thank you, young lady; you’ve been a dear.”

(I tell her to have a nice day, as she starts to shuffle away, mumbling about computers and “installing a Google,” and I stare after her, amused. The liquor department manager comes up to me.)

Liquor Manager: “Oh, that’s Mrs. [Customer]! I’ve never thought to suggest that she use the Internet before!”

Me: “Is she a regular?”

Liquor Manager: “Yeah, and she doesn’t get that I know nothing about wine pairings, because I hate that stuff!”

Me: “Well, I’m 19. She actually apologized to me when I told her that.”

Liquor Manager: “Wow.” *starts playing with her hair and trying to put it up* “Hmmm. I might actually try to pass for 20. I mean, not that you can even look that…” *sees the look on my face get a bit squinty* “…y-young? I’m not saying you’re lying, it’s just that you cannot possibly be 19! You have got to be… You can’t be 19, is what I’m saying.”

Me: *hands her my ID, which confirms my age* “If you’re trying to say I look over 21, I appreciate the compliment.”

Liquor Manager: “Wow. So… I mean… Wow! You don’t look that age. I mean, you look much younger than you actually are!”

Me: “I’d much rather look my actual age, to be totally honest.”

(She went on and on about how wonderful it was to have such access to the fountain of youth, and how young I looked, even though I kept on making it clear that I really didn’t appreciate much commentary on my age. She kept getting huffy and assuring me that it was just a compliment and that I should just accept that. I found a way to not-so-politely excuse myself, to get back to my job, as I found this manager to be much more unpleasant than the customer and her wine request! Two years, and many liquor-related conversations with my new favorite customer later, the customer found out when my birthday was. She gave me a rosé Champagne, with a card that read, “For your next chicken parmesan, now that you’re old enough to not have to rely on that Google anymore!” She also suggested that I apply for a position in the liquor department, and when I got the job, the liquor manager was so pissed off she quit! Due to my Google-found expertise with wine, I was quickly promoted to replace her, and lasted five years in that job before I left the company.)

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