I live in a village, which means everyone knows everyone, and as a result you tend to err on the friendly side because if you piss off someone, you are likely to have to run in to them every other day of the week, whether in the supermarket, or on the ferry, or in the bank. So it’s better to keep the peace, and play nice. But sometimes, this is just not possible.

In my village, like in most villages, there is a corner store. This particular corner store, just a few buildings away, sells cold beer. So for the first time, I decided to patronise the establishment to go get my beer fix. I didn’t expect to get patronised myself!

I bought two bottles of beer and took them home. Grabbed the opener, and crick!  The glass broke off in the bottle cap. The beer also had no fizz. So clearly it was a very old beer. A vintage beer, if you like. But, to me, worthless.

Like any straight-thinking shopper, I took the beer right back to the store to show them, expecting either (1) to get a replacement beer, or (2) to get my money back.

Take a wild guess how that went.

I showed them the beer, and the old man conversed with his wife for a few seconds, and shook his head.

Me being the typical lazy gweilo, I don’t speak Cantonese, so I gestured to them that perhaps they could exchange my broken old assed beer for a good, drinkable beer.

The old lady then went in the back, poked around in the kitchen, and came back with…

wait for it…


As if I’m going to strain an old, flat, stale beer that has shards of glass in it, and drink it!

I gestured again to the beer fridge, to imply that they should obviously GIVE me a new beer, and all I got in response was ‘Ahh no no no no no no no’.

What the hell man? You sell me an old broken beer, and refuse to replace it? For goodness sake!

The tea strainer though was the best part. Do people actually do that? How much of a desperate, poor alcoholic do you have to be to STRAIN glass from a flat beer?


What can you do in such a situation? If I could speak Cantonese, I would have told them to haul their mudder so-and-so and you know what.

Instead, being mildly annoyed by then, I just SLAMMED the beer bottle on their table, and without making eye contact, stormed away.

I’m a non confrontational kind of person, but I recognised that I was not going to get anywhere with Grandma and Grandpa Cheapskate.

I just wonder though, if the old lady strained the beer and drank it?


3 thoughts on “The Customer is Not Always Right

  1. my worst experiance was with a taxi driver picking me up from the island shagri-la hotel to the crowne plaza hotel which is basically 15 minutes away, i don’t know if this guy was a newbie from mainland china but he drove me around for about an hour and i knew he was going in the wrong direction because we had to pay tolls plus the meter was way above the average of what i would normally pay. the worst thing is he cannot speak english or at least that’s what he me beleive to think, after showing him my hotel card and so on he realized he was going in the wrong direction and made a uturn, when we go to the hotel i asked one of the attendant who knows me very well to ask this guy exactly where the mudda so and so he was taking me, based on the conversation between both of them he was taking me to some other crowne plaza in a different area or probably taking me somewhere to cook me and eat some steam brown meat…not me nah! i would ah buss up he head if he d only think dat!! he wouldda see how bad ah trini wouldda get on in china. after that experiance everytime i take a red crown taxi i ask the driver if he does speak english and if not i just tell him later horse and i jump in ah next one.

  2. Saying something….chuckled. Your right living in a small village, town, etc., does put you into the situation of meeting and dealing with same. Hope you enjoyed the other bottle.

Say something nah!

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