At the aisle five checkstand, I placed two cans of Foster’s beer on the belt and stood there daydreaming as the guy ahead, a combo Munchkin-troll, completed his transaction.
“Izzatgudbr?” he said to me.
“What was that?”
I still hadn’t understood, so he extended his left hand and hoisted one of the blue, gold, and red cans. “Izzatgudbr?” he repeated, no more plainly but with an increase of vehemence.
The gesture helped to clarify.
“Yes, very good.” Trying to be useful, I added that I buy it regularly.
This was the type of sparky situation you might end up hearing about in the news: Troll Arrested After Grocery Store Rumble Grievously Gores Goading Goofball. Despite my desire to please with a dandy answer, I was mildly offended at his grabbing the beer; he was more than mildly offended at not being understood. Additionally, for me, a modicum of shame attends the public purchase of alcohol. Please, no evaluation or questions. I averted my eyes.
The troll turned to the cashier, a big, hefty fellow with a ruddy, sympathetic face.
“I was speaking English,” the troll said.
The cashier wanted to stay out of this one.
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t understand.”
The troll fumed some more until change was dispensed, and then left abruptly.
Now I stepped before the cashier. “Next time someone asks about my beer, I’m going to say he should spend two dollars to find out for himself.”
He replied, “Or just, ‘Piss off!'”