What I Knew and When I Knew It

Much has been said and written about the recent events that took place at the Elon Deli in NSW’s Mid-North Coast. What the media has now dubbed the “Elongate Affair” contains much that is wildly inaccurate, perversely exaggerated and appaullingly spelled. By way of providing an unbiased eye-witness account, I would like to take this opportunity to go on public record and give my version of the event.

I was seated at a table outside the Elon Deli at approximately noon on the day in question sifting through the Sunday newspapers (the papers had been ground into a fine powder specifically for the purpose). I remember I had just begun on the Employment section when I overheard a commotion emanating from within the Deli. I thought I heard the sound of two voices arguing. On peering through the front window I discovered that my ears (unlike the previous weekend, when dressed as koalas they swindled me out of my spare change) had not deceived me. The two voices – or more accurately the producers of them – seemed to be having a disagreement over a small package sitting on the counter. The taller man, a customer, wore a dark suit, a runcible hat and a thin moustache. The shorter man was the owner of the store, and for hygiene reasons had hung his suit, hat and moustache on a small hook next to the door.

I was disturbed to see such a scene, feeling as many men do that a delicatessen is no place for raised voices. I could see that Prudence was calling me into the shop – Prudence was the shop owner’s wife (apparently my sandwich was ready).

Standing next to the counter I was able to get a much better look at the two men. Up close the stranger’s features seemed more exaggerated. His dark suit appeared darker, his thin moustache appeared thinner. Only his runcible hat appeared slightly less runciblier.

“You call that Polish salami?” He bellowed in a voice that was half spruiker, half Darth Vader. He poked at the package on the counter, which may or may not have contained Polish salami.

“I call that the best darned Polish salami this side of Warsaw,” the shopkeeper retaliated in a voice that was half whiny fourteen-year-old, half Luke Skywalker (which amounts to the same thing, I suppose).

I felt that now was the time for me to step in. “Gentlemen, this is a place of fine meat, cheese and pickled vegetables, not harsh words. Perhaps we could compromise. Perhaps we could call it Baltic-region salami?” Both men stared at me for what seemed like eleven seconds. I could not be sure if they objected to my attempt at diplomacy or my dreadful understanding of central European politico-geography. I was later to learn that while the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth did encorporate most of the modern day Baltic states, it was partitioned in 1795 and when the modern Baltic states achieved independent sovereignty after the first world war, they did not include Poland.

“I demand a refund.” The Darth Vader spruiker thumped the countertop with his fist, narrowly missing the package which would have almost certainly rendered the meat ineligible for a refund. As it was, its refund eligibility seemed precarious. I listened as the two men argued back and forth and discovered that since the package had been opened and a slice of the salami partially consumed, there was no way that the Luke Skywalker-esque Deli owner would be willing to offer a refund simply because the Vader-esque suited man had changed his mind. This seemed a reasonable policy to me. On the other hand, Lord Vader insisted that the meat was sub-standard and should be refunded on those grounds. It seemed to me that it came down to a question of the quality of the meat. I was just about to offer my services as a meat-judge when I noticed the small price sticker on the package. Apparently this whole arguement was over $2.60 worth of meat. Those who know me best will tell you that I am nothing if not generous. I dug my hand into my pocket, pulled out the correct change and placed it into the suited man’s hand.

“Sir, I would like to buy your salami”. The suited man flinched and pulled his hand away, scattering coinage about the shop.

“Are you an imbecile?” He roared. Turning to the Deli owner, he hissed “You have not heard the last of this. I will see to it that your shop is pulled to the ground and that you never work in this state again.” And with that he stormed out.

The deli owner looked stunned. The Luke Skywalker comparison could not have been more complete if the suited man had told him that he was his father and sliced his hand off with a lightsaber. I took my sandwich and left, insisting that they keep my scattered coins as a tip.

These are the details from my perspective to the best of my recollection. I was glad to see that the result of the affair was the demise of the suited man, a member of parliament and noted bully, and not the hard-working shop owner. I have since returned to the Elon Deli and sampled their polish salami. It was revolting.

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