There are few things that will get you offside quicker in Germany than going to a village butchers 20 minutes before closing and ask for some sliced ham.
“Ei, mer habbe doch grad die Maschine saaber g’macht”
(Oh no, we’ve just finished cleaning the slicer…”)
Subsequently you’ll be referred to in the village as “Der do der immer kurz vor Schluss zum Fleischää kimmt und will aach noch soi Zeusch immer dinn geschnidde habbe”
(“That bloke who always turns up just before closing and wants his ham thinly sliced”)
It happens in America, too, which does surprise me, given that it’s generally considered to be an oasis of service-orientation.
Stonewall Kitchen started off in 1991 as two guys selling home-made jams and vinegars at local produce markets.
We stumbled over them in the mid to late 1990s after they’d expanded into tiny premises in a strip mall in York, Maine with a kitchen in the back where they’d make 10 gallon batches of preserves.
These days, they’re nationally known with 8 company stores and a classy flagship store just outside York, selling virtually everything you could possibly use in a kitchen and still with hand-written (sort of) labels.
And they have a café.
Look at the menu and you just KNOW it’s going to be good.
Which it is.
Except when you go there at 3:30 (they’re nominally open until 4pm), they’ve cleared out the displays and you get your coffee served in a paper cup “because we close at 4…”
Or when you ask for your breakfast English muffin toasted and un-buttered and they tell you that THEY (the standard “wellit’snotMYfault” cop-out) butter all the muffins first thing in the morning and no, THEY can’t give you an un-buttered one.
And if you write to them, pointing out just how silly this is, Liz Fabale, the café manager will write the following vapid response:
Your Friend in Good Taste
I know what she’s really saying, but until I am more limber, the anatomical manoeuvre she suggests is not physically possible for me at this time.
It must be me.