Salty Old Man

, , , , | Right | May 15, 2018

(I am a customer, walking through the supermarket. I walk past a shelf, which a worker is trying to stock, but she has been interrupted by a grumpy old man who is berating her about the salt content of tinned vegetables. He is demanding to know why tins of vegetables have salt in them, being very rude about it and blaming it on the girl who is just trying to do her job. I interrupt him and we have the following conversation:)

Me: “Excuse me, sir, I couldn’t help overhearing, but you seem to be concerned about salt for some reason and I thought I could answer your questions.”

Grumpy Old Man: “Oh, really? What do you know about it?”

Me: “Well, I happen to be a chemist by training, so I probably know more about salt and other chemicals than anyone else in here.”

Grumpy Old Man: “That’s pharmacy, so I doubt you know what you’re on about.”

Me: “No, I’m a chemist. Not a pharmacist. Meaning I studied chemistry. Pay attention.”

Grumpy Old Man: “Okay, then, why do tins of vegetables have to contain salt?”

Me: “It’s there as a preservative, to keep the contents safe to eat.”

Grumpy Old Man: “Yes, yes, I know that. But why does it have to contain so much of it? I have to be on a low-sodium diet, which means I can’t eat these tinned foods. They should make them with less salt so I can eat them.”

Me: “The amount of salt present is actually quite critical for safety. If there were less, or none at all, then the contents of the tin could start growing bacteria, making them unsafe to eat. You wouldn’t want that, right?”

Grumpy Old Man: “Well, what am I supposed to eat, instead?”

Me: “You don’t have to live on tinned food. This place does sell fresh vegetables, as does nearly every other supermarket. You are hardly being denied food.”

Grumpy Old Man: *pointing at sales girl and getting angry* “Well, she should make sure that tinned food stops having so much salt put into it! I shouldn’t have to buy fresh vegetables just to avoid salt!”

Me: “Look, I’ve explained to you why tinned food has to have salt in it. Also, you’re complaining to the wrong person. Do you think someone working on the shop floor has any influence at all over the content of products on the shelves? You need to take your complaint to central management, or better still, the food manufacturers. Stop wasting the time of people who can’t help you.”

Grumpy Old Man: “Okay, you’re getting a bit weird now. I don’t want to talk to you any more.”

Me: “I’m being weird? I’m not the one making a huge fuss over a bit of salt!”

(The grumpy old git walks away, muttering to himself.)

Sales Girl: “Thank you for that. I didn’t think he would ever leave me alone.”

Me: “No problem. I find it hard to tolerate idiots, especially those who don’t understand basic chemistry.”

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