Overheard in the Supermarket

Standing in the express aisle at the supermarket buying my lunch today, the gentleman two customers in front of me purchased a bottle of wine. The cashier confused him when she asked for identification. Understandably, since he appeared to be pushing fifty. To help him the customer between us helped him by telling him “it’s a new state law” that everyone must be asked to verify his or her age when buying alcohol. His response? “Oh, that’s a good thing. That way kids can’t buy alcohol.”

Ehhhhhhhh. A small child could figure out that this gentleman was old enough to buy alcohol. It is objectively stupid to require the cashier to verify the obvious. It wasted the customer’s time. It wasted the cashier’s time. The customer between us? Wasted time. Me? Wasted time. All of this theater for no improvement in alcohol safety, even if we grant that as a legitimate government function. We have the appearance of responsibility to remind us that we’re good and nothing else.

The worst part of this is that this requirement is not state law (yet), at least as far as I’m aware. I believe it is only a policy of the grocery store. This says only that “No person shall … sell any alcoholic beverages to any person when at the time of such sale he knows or has reason to believe that the person to whom the sale is made is (i) less than twenty-one years of age…”. Anyone staffed in a position to operate a cash register is probably intelligent enough to understand that she has no reason to believe that a man who looks fifty is not less than twenty-one years of age. No matter. We’re now trained to assume that everything the government does is correct and good. Think of the children, except don’t actually think. You might figure out that you can function without a firm hand forcing you.


In case parents are too stupid to understand how to teach their children alcohol responsibility, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control offers an insulting guide to Virginia Alcohol Laws and Parental Responsibility. It includes 10 tips for hosting an alcohol-free party because there’s no way you could responsibly include alcohol in a setting with children because they are incapable of learning responsibility through modeling responsible behavior. You must treat your 10-year-old son and your 20-year-old daughter the same.