After two days of high energy at the smart cities conference, I decided to look for a wine that was highly recommended by my gym partner. It was a Pinot Noir from New Zealand. The manager at the Chinatown Liquor shop, when asked waved his hand at the counter beside his cash counter pointing me in the direction. I spent the next ten minutes going over all possible Pinot Noirs from Oregon, California, France and so on but could not sight the one from New Zealand that my Chinese wine expert had deftly directed me to. I was already beginning to look at other Pinot Noirs among the collection and make a choice that I would probably regret when I decided to appeal to him for the one from down under. He promptly swung into action and very briskly began shuffling the bottles to identify his prized possession. After shooting pointed fingers in the air, he conceded that the stock was over. I was a tad disappointed and now decided to go for the Pinot Noir anyway even if it had to be from another region. I picked a $ 18 wine from France and he uttered his favourite two liner; ‘for that price I would take another’. He chose another Pinot Noir and stated that it was his most favourite one. I promptly made my way to the counter and settled the bill and was happy to head to my apartment where my wife and son waited for an evening with wine and dinner. I realized that the Chinaman had indeed introduced us to a good brand of wine.
The day after the next when the conference came to an end, we were passing through China Town and my wife wanted to buy some toiletries. I remembered the China man and his liquor shop and felt that it would be sensible to try and see if the Pinot Noir from New Zealand had surfaced. Eager to satisfy my taste buds, I marched purposefully to the liquor shop and began looking for it at the same counter. My wife who followed behind, seeing me on my search mission, demanded off the China man whether the wine from New Zealand had been received in stock. The China man with a faint hint of recollection regretted. With a sense of trust in his judgment, I approached him once again for his recommendation with a bottle from California. He stepped towards the counter and in his unique style averred ‘for that price I would choose another’. I then awaited his picks. This time I chose the cheaper one of his two recommendations and then proceeded to buy a small bottle of Grey Goose vodka. As I removed my credit card to pay for the purchase, he slipped the two bottles into a black slim plastic bag. Once I held the bag, I felt that it seemed unsteady to hold the bottles. So I asked,’ do you think the bag will be able to hold the bottles?’ He promptly replied, ‘it should’. I insisted that he give me another bag as a precautionary measure and he obliged. I then marched out of his shop followed by my wife. As I swung five steps from the shop towards the crossing, I felt the weight in the bag give way and I heard a loud crash. I was still holding the bag firmly in my grip but there lay another bag with broken bottles bleeding red liquid from beneath. I inspected and the two bottles which I had purchased had indeed slipped out of the bag and had a bad landing as both broke and the liquor had spilled onto the pavement. I heard a comment under the breath of a passer-by, ‘Man, I have been there before…’. A group of unsavory men began to look in my direction and I stood on my feet and made my way back to the shop with the bag with its mouth blown firmly in my grip. I entered the shop and addressed the China man, ‘the bag gave way and the bottles have broken!’ What happened next was the swiftest action I have seen in a transaction. The China man took one look at me and then moved towards the exit. I followed. He inspected the bottles lying on the pavement and picked up the bag in which they lay and then threw the bag with the broken bottles into the trash can. He then stepped inside his shop with me in hot pursuit. He reached for the same counter picked the Pinot Noir and the Grey Goose fresh bottles. Then he pulled out fresh bags, tested their strength and put the bottles in the bags all over again and handed them to me. I did not want to take chances so I put the bag with the bottles into another bag of other stuff that I was carrying, thanked him and made my way out of his shop, grateful that I did not have to fight my way to recovering my losses. On my way, my wife and I wondered what had transpired in the mind of the China man when he made the decision to compensate our loss.
I thought he won by not whining
and delighting me with the wine,
It surely was his financial loss,
but no fault of mine…