Rediscovering life's beer necessities

Gene Weingarten on

Now everyone was laughing. Even other customers.

I am not a goody two-shoes. If I got home and realized I had been undercharged by $6 in, say, Whole Foods, I suspect I would not bother to correct it, for two reasons: (1) It's an overpriced luxury store that can well absorb the paltry loss, and (2) in all likelihood, chain retail establishments overcharge us more than they undercharge us, and keeping the bucks this time would be a small adjustment of justice. (I may well be rationalizing dishonesty, but it's how I feel.)

This, however, was a small, friendly family-run business, a neighbor of mine, and to me that changed the moral calculus completely.

Anyhow, the festivities behind the counter were continuing. The owner disappeared into the back and came out with a beautiful etched-glass whiskey tumbler, a promotional item from Knob Creek rye. It had to be worth considerably more than the $6 in question. She pressed it into my hands. I must accept it, she said, to commemorate this moment.

It had been quite a moment, actually. I left with my glass, grinning. Mutual civility delivers a tangible, visceral joy. I've been missing that feeling for the longest time.



Gene Weingarten can be reached at Follow him on Twitter, @geneweingarten. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon Eastern at

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