It was April, 1943. I had been in the Army only a few days. It was Basic Training time at Fort Dix. This was at a point in my life when my mastery of English had not quite encountered some of the more exotic terms for various products.
I decided to visit the PX. Looking into the display cases, I remembered something I needed and asked the young woman attendant whether they carried Gillette thins. She seemed flustered and asked that I wait a moment. She went into the back room and I waited patiently.
A grim-looking woman soon came out and curtly said, “We don’t carry that product, Private.”
I was surprised. “You don’t sell razor blades?”
“That’s not what you asked for,” she stated tartly.
“I asked her whether you sold razor blades,” I stated softly.
“Of course you did!” she stated angrily. She reached into the case, pulled out a small package and slapped it on top of the glass case. “We sell this brand of blue blades,” she continued. “Five to the package. Is this what came in for? Twenty-five cents, Private! Her anger had become unnerving.
“No,” I thought to myself. These were the Gillette blue blades. I had wanted the Gillette thin blades, four to the package and only ten cents. But, I was in a hurry to leave. “These will do fine,” I muttered. As I exited the place, I knew I wouldn’t be back for the duration of my stay at this camp.