Friday, 15 July 2011

Learning on the Job

Evan was convinced that working in a bar for a year had taught him nothing at all, but that was far from being the case. For an introspective type, not in the habit of following what was going on around himself, he'd picked up quite a lot. For example, he'd noticed how a customer left waiting for a minute or two at a crowded bar would invariably adopt a grim, otherworldly expression, as if contemplating an alternate reality in which everyone present was wired to explode in five minutes' time and didn't know it. As soon as you uttered the magic words 'what can I get you?' this expression would be replaced with solicitous friendliness, but that only made Evan more suspicious.

Another thing he'd learned was that almost no one knows anything about wine. For the first few months he'd been caught out again and again by expert sommeliers who would ask him for a 'dry white' or 'something from the Old World', but once he'd discovered that nine-times-out-of-ten all they wanted was a Sauvignon Blanc their power over him was broken. He had actually come to take pleasure in humiliating customers by reciting at length the names of lesser-known grape varities--Gros Manseng, Chasan, Malvasia Istriana--while they attempted to simulate an expression of thoughtfulness. When at last he finished with 'and we also have a Sauvignon Blanc' they would latch on to it gratefully, at which point he would ask if they wanted the Chilean, the New Zealand or the Australian Semillion blend. Not one of these wines had he ever tasted.

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