“Why are we more boozy?”

That’s the headline in a recent online posting on the Star Tribune (Twin Cities paper) website. Here’s an excerpt:

“Upper Midwesterners drink more. Could it be our northern European roots? The weather?”

The story goes on to report that Minnesota is one of the top 5 drinking states in the US. Experts point out that part of the explanation is that many residents in the upper Midwest are descendants from countries with high alcohol consumption. Another reason given, of course, is the long cold winters and indoor activity that goes nicely with alcohol consumption.

It reminded me of a story I heard from the late Jerry Mann about the adventures of booze salesperson in the upper Midwest. (See March 25, 2010 for another tale.)

It seems this ambitious young salesman was given the territory in the Midwest that included Minnesota and Wisconsin. As a person who grew up in more moderate winter climates, he was a bit out of his element.

After a long, bitter cold day north of Minneapolis, the salesman decided to call it a day and drove to the hotel he had booked for the night. He checked in, dropped his suitcase and immediately headed for the bar. He figured it’s early, so he’ll check the brands on the back shelf, order a drink and chat with the bartender.

While he sipped on his Seagram’s Gin on the rocks, he introduced himself to the bartender and a conversation ensued. The first question the salesman asked was about the parking garage.

“Listen pal,” he starts off. “I noticed when I pulled into the garage, there are all these wires hanging from the ceiling that look like electric plugs. What’s that all about?”

“How long ago was that?” asked the barman.

“About 5 maybe 10 minutes ago,” the salesman replied.

The barman says in a very Midwest accent, “Those are for engine block heating and they connect to the engine to keep it from freezing. Most of the cars up here, especially rentals, have a plug to connect to them. I hope you used it.”

“Oh hell,” says the salesman as he gets up to leave. “I didn’t know…I’ll be right back.”

The barman stared at him, smiled and said, “Forget about it. It’s too late now.”

The salesman sits down, takes out a cigarette, lights it and takes a puff. He smiles at the barman and says, “Well, in that case, make this a double.”


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