Last week I flew to Toronto for the world's largest life insurance sales convention. The good citizens of the city had plenty of advance warning and had already fled en masse south to the American border before the 9,000 crack salesmen and women, from over 150 countries, had even cleared Customs.
My trip had got off to a dream start when, at Heathrow Terminal 5, I was given the answer to every Jewish air traveller's prayer - an upgrade to Business. And I hadn't even asked for one.
But everything changed the next morning at breakfast in my hotel when I ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice. As soon as I tasted it, I knew that it wasn't freshly squeezed.
"Excuse me", I said to the waiter, "this isn't freshly squeezed."
"Yes, sir, it is freshly squeezed," the waiter replied.
I am not just a life insurance salesman
"No, I'm afraid it is not freshly squeezed," I said. "Please can you ask your manager to come over."
A tall young man with "Gogool" written on his badge arrived. Assuming he wasn't a dyslexic billionaire executive from the world's largest search engine, I said: "Gogool, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"Please, sir, go ahead". "Gogool, is this orange juice freshly squeezed on the premises?"
"Yes, sir, it is freshly squeezed." "Really Gogool?" "Yes, sir". "You're absolutely sure of this, are you, Gogool?" "Yes, sir, I am sure."
I stood up and, taking off my glasses, looked straight into his eyes. "Really, Gogool? Absolutely sure, are you? Freshly squeezed? Here in the hotel, this morning?"
"Yes, sir, it is", he said.
"Gogool. At this point I must reveal to you that I am not just a life insurance salesman from London, but I also happen to be the world champion freshly squeezed orange juice drinker. Indeed, I have been in the Guinness Book of Records for the last 24 years. So, Gogool. I must now ask you once again: are you still absolutely sure that this orange juice was freshly squeezed here in the hotel this morning?"
He cracked. "OK, sir, I confess... we do buy it in."
He was on the verge of tears. "Don't cry, Gogool, this won't go any further. What's said at this table will stay at this table. But I would still like a freshly squeezed orange juice. A large one, please".
"I am sorry, but we haven't got any oranges. We never have any oranges. I am now confessing this to you, sir." He knelt by my side. I laid a hand on his shoulder.
"Here, Gogool, take this." I gave him a $20 note. "Please go out and buy me half a dozen oranges, Israeli ones preferably".
"Sir, forgive me. I will not let you down, I will squeeze them with my own hands," he said.
Ten minutes later I had probably the best freshly squeezed orange juice in Toronto. I'm not a demanding man. But some things are important in life. Some things are worth fighting for. And a freshly squeezed orange juice is one of them.