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10:03pm on Thursday, 23rd February, 2006:

Random Prices


Every once in a while I eat in the university restaurant that calls itself "sizzlers". It's basically just a chips-and-burgers place, but they give you a side salad as well so that makes it slightly more upmarket than your regular greasy spoon.

Sizzlers doesn't serve drinks, as it's adjacent to the Top Bar. Thus, whenever I eat at Sizzlers, as I did today, I always go to the Top Bar to get myself a ... guess what?

OK, well what I get is half a pint of lemonade and blackcurrant (no ice). I don't drink alcohol, and I don't like a hot drink with meals either, and although I don't mind fizzy drinks I do object to paying £1.50 for a bottle of the stuff. If it comes out of the nozzle machine, that's fine, though. It' usually somewhat bland, however, so back when I was a student I took to getting the bar staff to add cordials to the lemonade to see if I could find something that was more palatable. Lemonade and blackcurrant was the result.

It's something I associate with my student days, especially those spent in the Top Bar. One sip of lemonade and blackcurrant, and for an instant I'm 20 again, playing on the arcade machines or the pinballs. Ahh, those were the days...

Anyway, the thing is that whenever I order half a pint of lemonade and blackcurrant (no ice) I get a different price. Today, I was charged 50p, which is the cheapest yet. I've been charged £1, 75p, 60p, 62p — well, so many prices that I've lost count. If two prices are the same, it's purely by accident.

Why this is I don't know for sure, but I suspect it's because so few people ask for lemonade and blackcurrant (no ice) that no-one actually knows how much it costs so they make a price up. If they're in a hurry, they make it something simple; if they want to give the impression they do know the price, they add some pence on so it's not a round number; if they know how much lemonade costs and how much a shot of blackcurrant costs and how much no ice costs, they'll add them all up in their heads.

Of course, this final way they come up with the most random number of them all...

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).