I went out to dinner the other night in Tempe. The waitress was very cheerful. I asked if she had ginger ale. She smiled at me, the way people who say yes smile. “I sure don’t,” she said. Coming down hard on the word sure and smiling even harder.

When I grew up in NY I never encountered the I-sure-don’t construction. When people meant “no,” they said “no.”But I have encountered I sure don’t many times in the West.

Help me here. Why do some people express a negative, “No, we do not have ginger ale,” with a false positive, “I sure don’t?”