“Ver are your papers!”
“Um. Hang on. I’m sure I have them on me. Wait. Here,” said the man, handing them over.
The clerk examined them closely. He arched his eyebrow. “Your papers,” he said, pausing slightly, “are not in order.” A sly grin spread across his face.
The man’s eyes darted back and forth. He turned his body as if to go and reflexively reached out to retrieve his papers, but the clerk held them close. “No, that can’t be right. Are you sure? They must be,” he said, his desperation turning the last few words into a bare whisper. “Check again,” he pleaded.
The clerk did not look at them again, but said, “Yes. They are fine.”
The relief on the man’s face was evident.
“So that was a large Miller Lite?” asked the clerk.
The man nodded, accepted his beer, and walked away.
The transformation of the Wall Street Journal into the New York Times, only with more charts, is nearly complete, as evidenced by today’s front page story, “White Hair, Wrinkles Aren’t Valid ID At These Drinking Establishments.”
The subtitle of this injustice-of-the-day-article, a staple of the Times and now the WSJ, goes to prove the contention that there is no worse crime than to hurt somebody’s feelings: “Universal Carding, Flattering to Some, Aims to Halt Profiling.”
Yes, not asking to see the ID of a man “90 years old in a wheelchair”, a man whom any even half-sane ex-terrorist-bomber-murderer professor at Columbia could tell was older than 21, is profiling. The piece doesn’t say, but we all have been trained well and know that profiling happens because of racism.
The point of asking to see the ID of everybody, even obviously older people—one foolishly proud bartender boasted of asking to see the ID of a 96-year-old—“is to eliminate the guesswork and social goofs that often seem to go with making sure youngsters don’t drink.”
And there it is, the standby, “What about the children!” Heaven forfend the occasional 20-year-old is sold a six-pack at the 7-11. This nation’s attitude to alcohol is best described as, and here I use the technical term, insane. Better to ask all for an ID lest a swarm of lawyers swoop down and sue. It won’t be long—mark my words—before records are kept on who’s buying what. “I see Mr Briggs that last week you bought a fifth of Old Overholt, yet here you are for more.”
The trick to avoid being non-profiled is to say when asked to shown ID “I don’t have one” or “I didn’t bring one with me.” It only works at smaller establishments where the mercenary interest of the owner usually trumps his political correctness. It hardly ever flies at chain stores where the poor clerks at the checkout are just “following orders.”
There’s a Japanese grocery story chain I frequent when in Silicon Valley which insists on IDs for everybody. I learned this after trying to buy a bottle of Orion (brewed in Okinawa, where I once lived). The clerk asked me for an ID, which I stupidly showed her. But since I am a New York resident, my out-of-state drivers license flummoxed her. A senior clerk was called over to ponder this most complex situation. Finally, it was decided to take my ID to the back where a manager gave the OK. All this for one bottle of brew.
I learned my lesson and don’t buy booze from them anymore. But another time I was in the store with a colleague who was still naive. He was asked for his ID and showed it. Since he’s Californian, it was all right. Then the clerk asked for my ID, too. I told her I wasn’t buying the beer: I wasn’t buying anything. She said it was “store policy” to see the ID of everybody who is together.
No way was I going to show her anything. I asked her what do you do when a mom and child come in? Refuse to sell her alcohol? No reply. I then told her it was against my “policy” to produce an ID when I wasn’t buying anything. Nothing. Logic clearly wasn’t working and so I finally told her to pretend I wasn’t with my friend, which I proved by walking out of the store. My colleague got his beer, but just barely.
There is some hope. Tennessee and Indiana mandated universal IDs. “But then some crabby old folks got on the phone and gave the politicians an earful” and the laws were repealed. What’s sad is that the poor writer doesn’t know the difference between “crabby old folks” and “irate commonsensical people.”