I stopped at a supermarket on the Barre-Montpelier Road a few days ago. I don’t often shop at this supermarket because other supermarkets in Berlin and South Barre are at more convenient locations for me, but it generally has very good prices on wine, so I thought I’d check out the selection. In my house, wine is considered one of the three major food groups – as in (1) wine, (2) chocolate desserts, and (3) all those other foods.
What I totally didn’t remember is that the family that owns this chain of supermarkets apparently is still a firm believer in the Volstead Act: to prevent underage persons from purchasing alcoholic beverages, and therefore protect the store’s license to sell alcohol, everyone – as in EVERYone — buying alcohol at this supermarket gets carded!
When my bottles of wine reached the register, the cashier eyed me carefully.
Cashier: “I need to see your ID.”
Me: “Say what?”
Cashier: “I need to see your ID. For the wine.”
Me: “Really? What if I told you I was already 23? Would you believe me?”
Cashier (rolling her eyes): “I need to see your ID.”
Now I know what you’re thinking, “But Lare, you haven’t seen 20 since the Johnson administration. You should be flattered if they card you!” Perhaps, but as the years roll by I’m becoming more and more enamored with those cultures, such as the Japanese, in which elderly citizens are held in very high esteem. And even when I’m wearing my COVID mask, it should be easy to see I am no spring chicken.
I should probably be generous here and say that the supermarket is doing its best to prevent booze from falling into young hands. Heaven forbid we should end up living in a society like France or Italy, where many parents give their children wine cut with water along with their meals. As a result the kids grow up to be unstunted, normal-sized adults with normal IQs and to live in nations with lower rates of alcoholism than here in the U.S.
The fact is, it is just plain difficult to get carded when you are older.
First there is the twinge of guilt that washes over you, as if you are doing something illegal, like back when you were 19, except now you feel you are trying to buy beer with a fake AARP card.
Next comes the problem of remembering where you put your ID or if you even remembered to bring it with you.
Then there is the issue of finding it in your wallet. As we grow older, we acquire more and more cards of all varieties. It takes time to sort through the credit, debit, Social Security, Medicare, dental insurance, supplemental health care insurance, cataract replacement lens ID, Red Cross blood donor, joint replacement ID, Green Mountain Senior (State Park) Passport, AAA, U.S. National Parks Senior Pass, permanent Vermont Hunting/Fishing license, Green Mountain Community Fitness membership, AARP, and now, COVID vaccination, cards with arthritic fingers. Inevitably one drops to the floor.
And, of course, you cannot just flip open your wallet and flash your ID at the cashier, like the actors do in those TV shows about the FBI. The cashier needs you to remove it from your wallet for forensic analysis, probably to ascertain whether the birth date has been tampered with.
I have one of those “enhanced” driver’s licenses that you can use to cross the border, and the DMV strongly recommends that you keep that kind of license in its foil-lined pouch so that nefarious actors cannot use electronic scanners to read the RFID chip in the card as you walk down the street. My license always seems to have become glued to the inside of the pouch and I have to pry it out.
As I am fumbling with all this, 17 younger customers with six-packs and fake IDs have lined up behind me because, since I was only purchasing two bottles of wine, I chose the lane for 10 items or less and it’s Friday evening and they want to get home from work and really relax.
And while those 17 customers are glaring at the befuddled old man at the front of the line, the cashier, using the storewide intercom, calls for a supervisor because, as it turns out, the cashier is under 21 and cannot sell alcohol. So, we wait.
It’s enough to make you give up drinking wine!
What a minute . . . let’s not be hasty.