Tag Archives: beer

What does a man have to do to get a beer around here?

Ordering alcohol is never easy for me when I’m in the southern United States. I’m asked for ID on a regular basis, despite the fact that I turned 21 many moons ago, and showing any barman or waiter my British passport generally produces a look of bafflement and wonder. I guess it might be Tennessee’s way of attempting to stop me from drinking in the first place, given that the state still has a number of dry counties. Or no-go zones, as I prefer to call them.

But sometimes all it takes to get a drink is abject humiliation.

On a flight from Washington DC to Knoxville on Wednesday evening, the flight attendant and her trolley made their way down the aisle of the tiny plane offering free fizzy popsoda, or alcoholic drinks for $6. No tiny bags of free snacks, sadly – one man who asked for some pretzels received a slightly embarrassed reply of “Sorry, United got rid of them a while ago.”

A couple of people had opted for a late night beer by the time the trolley got to me, and after five hours of hanging around airports, I decided to get the Thanksgiving party started in a similar way (safe in the knowledge that my passport was in my back pocket, in case any age-related concerns were brought up). Putting aside my annoyance at paying six dollars for something available for less than a dollar in a supermarket, I waited for my turn.

Attendant: “Can I get you a drink from the trolley?”

Brit Out Of Water: “That would be great. Can I have a beer, please?”

Attendant: “Pardon?”

Brit Out Of Water: “A beer please.”

Attendant: “Sorry?”

Brit Out Of Water (face reddening as people start to listen in): “A beer.”

Attendant: “What is it you would like sir?”

Brit Out Of Water (desperation setting in as fellow passengers start to laugh): “A beer. You know, a beer. A beer.”

Attendant: “Erm, I’m sorry sir, I don’t think we have…”

[Brit Out Of Water bends down, opens the bottom drawer of the trolley and gesticulates wildly at the cans within]

Attendant: “Oh, a beer! Why didn’t you say…”

Now, I admit that the British tend to pronounce the word that denotes “an alcoholic drink containing water, grain, hops and yeast” as ‘bee-err’ and Americans pronounce it more like ‘byurrrrgh’. But nonetheless, most flyers know that their drinks options are limited to a very few options, and so it wasn’t as if I was going to be asking for a glass of Château Pétrus (1929 preferably, although I hear that the 1961 is drinking very well at the moment). But that British accent just keeps getting in the way of day-to-day life, it would seem.

On the way back yesterday, a different attendant approached with the trolley on our delayed flight back to New York.

Attendant: “Would you like a drink sir?”

Brit Out Of Water: “I’ll have a Heineken, please.”

Death, where is thy sting?

After two long flights, and a lot of late nights with work and with friends, I’ve found myself encumbered with an early summer cold. Not the slight sniffles of a borderline hay fever attack, but the full on “I need thirty tissues to get through every hour” man cold, which could conceivably bring about my death in the next thirty six hours.

It’s bad enough trying to get myself understood in this city at the best of times, but when I’m bunged up with a cold I may as well be talking in Swahili for all the good my voice does me. Simple requests such as “can I have a glass of water” turn into “get the bath, I’m passing borders”. Which would be useful if I was, say, on the verge of entering Mexico and needed a scrub down. But not so much when I’m parched and desperate to get liquids into my system.

My sudden descent into languagelessness is at least an incentive to get better quickly, and with that in mind, I made the trip to Rite Aid at lunchtime to pick up all the potions and concoctions I could carry.

Rite Aid is a strange shop. I know it has been a pretty successful chain, but I have no idea how it managed to persuade people to shop there in the first place, and it’s now clinging on to its former glories. Their stock levels can only be described as pitiful, and their commitment to customer service is barely higher than Kraft’s commitment to producing one-off artisanal cheeses. I swear I stood waiting in a queueline for fifteen minutes today. There were only two people ahead of me.

But it’s not their ability to engender irrational hatred that bothers me, it’s their weird choice in products. Now, bear in mind that this place is a glorified pharmacy. Sure, they’ve got hairsprays, toothbrushes, deodorants and photo printing, but essentially it’s all about the vitamins, pain killers, creams and ointments. Things to help you get better if you’re ill. Items that will aid your recovery from trauma, and get you back on the road to fitness and health. A cornucopia of wellness restoration.

And beer.

Great big fridges of the stuff. Bottles and bottles of Corona, Heineken and Miller, chilled to perfection and waiting for a willing high blood pressure/broken arm/mosquito bite sufferer to take them home and numb the pain away. It’s like putting the Algerian branch of Agoraphobics Anonymous in the middle of the Sahara.

Personally I think Rite Aid are in cahoots with the makers of Tylenol in a desperate attempt to bump up sales. Buy two six packs and they’ll thrown in some liquid capsules for a dollar.