6 月 15 日我再度造訪台北一家百貨公司的男裝櫃位，想買件頸圈尺寸 15 號半的白襯衫。
服務員熱情又和藹可親，只可惜店裡缺貨。她毫不猶豫地說：「你看上的那一款，全台只剩 3、4 件。台北沒有這個尺寸，要到南部調貨。」
「攝氏 35 度大熱天，我是否應該穿件感覺涼爽㸃的？」我有些不解地問道，接著無可奈何地說：「好吧，那就聽妳的推薦買兩件吧。」
她包裝了兩件。付了錢正想離開，我多瞧了一眼，發現一件的尺寸是 15 號半，另一件則是 15 號。請她看看。她笑道：「燈光不足，號碼辨識錯了，不過 15 號的也不錯啊！」
True or false?
On 15 June I went to the menswear section of a department store in Taipei to purchase a white shirt with a 15½ inch neck.
The friendly woman working behind the sales counter said the shirt I wanted was out of stock.
"There are only 3 or 4 of that size shirt left in the whole Taiwan," she told me without a moment's hesitation. "Our shops in Taipei don't usually have that size. We need to have them transferred from southern Taiwan."
"Which party do you belong to?" I said in a joking tone. "Why would you keep such a stylish shirt in the south only?"
"We don't have the waist size for the style of shirt you want. It is out of fashion," she said.
"Isn't a shirt with a 15½ inch neck quite common? Didn't you tell me you had some shirts like that available in other stores in Taipei? How come such a basic style should be out of stock and out of fashion at the same time?" I asked, a little perplexed.
"You might want to try this all-new shirt, sir. It is a no-iron cotton shirt made with new technology," she said, without answering my question. Instead, she changed the topic by launching into another sales pitch. "Buy one and get one free. Last day for sales. Don't miss the opportunity."
"On a hot day like this, at 35°C, shouldn't I get a shirt that makes me feel cool?" I asked, a little puzzled, but I finally gave in. "OK, I'll take your advice and take two then."
After she packed the two shirts, I paid and was about to leave when I discovered upon taking a closer look that one of the shirts had a 15½ inch neck, but the other, 15 inch. I showed the sales woman, who laughed. "Oh, I got the wrong size because of the dim light. But what's wrong with 15 inch?"
Once the shirt had been exchanged, I took another look before I left the store and discovered to my surprise that the two shirts were different colours. One of them was white with a tinge of grey. I asked the sales woman to double check, and she did so, with good manners, and finally said with a smile: "The lighting is different. That's why the shading is different." Then she added, "As a matter of fact, the other one has a different pattern, which is the latest fashion. More suitable for you."
"You really know how to talk. But of what you have said, what is true and what is false? Are you planning to run for mayor or to be legislator?" I said, before I walked out.
Many people nowadays talk as if they were in a speech contest. It seems one can brag about anything without being responsible for what one says.
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (11 September, 2014).
13 October, 2014