Customer-friendly (19 January 2009)
I received a friendly e-mail from Ray Vermey, who lives in a Dutch village named Nieuw Vennep. He wrote that he enjoyed visiting the website. Needless to say I was much pleased to hear this.
He also wrote me about something that had taken place twenty-eight years ago when as a boy of seventeen he was a keen chess player living in Leyden.
For a long time he had been saving to buy Mephisto's latest chess computer. But when he visited the shop to buy the object of his desire, the shopkeeper had a disappointing piece of information: the computer that he wanted was sold out. 'But you can take a Fidelity Challenger if you like, which is four hundred guilders cheaper.'
As Ray had been saving so long, he responded that he'd rather have the Mephisto. 'Well,' the shopkeeper answered: 'It's your choice, of course, but you may take the Fidelity and when the Mephisto computer arrives, you may just bring the Fidelity back and then you can still buy the Mephisto.'
'But I'm sure I won't see you back for it,' he added.
After some consideration, Ray accepted the offer, and he liked the Fidelity so much that he never returned for the Mephisto, thus saving himself four hundred (undevaluated) guilders.'
According to Ray, the name of the shop had been Van Brussel. Of course, I immediately googled the name, but it looks as if there is no longer a toy shop in Leyden by that name. I don't know why it went out of business, but I'm sure the reason can't have been that it was not customer-friendly!