Freshly Official & Already Put To The Test

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I now have in my possession official proof: I have gray hair and Medicare. That patriotic red, white & blue card not only provides me with health insurance but insures that I can officially act like an old codger with little patience for suffering fools lightly.
And it took less than 10 days for it to be put to the test. Not the health insurance part; the cranky codger part.
I was shopping in a corporate owned big box store whose name will be left undisclosed to protect the guilty. But figure they pack your purchases in yellow, blue, white or tan plastic bags and you will figure out who the guilty parties are. They all engage in what they call their version of providing an excellent customer experience by inconveniencing customers.
I traditionally shop at the local mom & pop shops, especially if they are a Times advertiser, but there are times that that just can’t be accomplished and I must resort to the dancing to the corporate tune…reluctantly & sometimes (as you will read) with attitude.
Earlier this month I was in one of those colorful plastic bag purveyors. I made a number of purchases, and happened to notice a particularly fine sale price on a large bottle of Merlot. Planning on pasta for supper, I indulged my unsophisticated palate with a purchase of the $5 vintage.
At the check out things went fine until the heavily tattooed young person scanned the bottle of wine and asked to see my ID.
“You sure you’re old enough to scan a bottle of alcohol?” I asked. She assured me that she was but declined to show me her ID.
“Do you think I dye my hair this color of gray just to fool cashier’s into selling me booze?” I queried. “Do I look like I am under 21? Do I look like I am under 40? I think I have been over 21 for longer than you have been on this earth,” I badgered.
I heard some chuckling behind me and glanced back to see about a half dozen other customers amused by the corporate lunacy causing the standoff.
“I need to make sure you are old enough to buy alcohol,” the young cashier said.
So I pulled out my new Medicare card. “Do you know how old you have to be to get one of these?” I asked.
There was more laughter behind me so I turned and asked for a vote. “How many of you think I look over 21?” I asked the other customers.
They all raised their hand including the pre-school youngster waiting with his grandma.
“There you have it,” I said as I turned back to the cashier. “You’re the only one who thinks I look younger than 21,” I said beginning to get more than a little miffed.
“I need to see your driver’s license or I could be fired,” the young cashier said.
Well, not wanting to be a party to an unemployment insurance claim, I showed her my driver’s license as she told me Excise Police sometimes review surveillance footage to see if the store is selling to people under age.
“No, they do not,” I shot back emphatically. “They have more important things to do that watch a TV screen for crimes not committed.”
“But they do hire people who are under 21 to try to buy alcohol to test cashiers,” said I, “but I am not one of them.”
“Now,” I asked as I gathered up my purchases, “you saw my driver’s license. What’s my date of birth?”
All I got was a blank stare and an “I don’t know” as I left the building.
“Wasn’t that an exercise in futility,” I thought as the automatic doors slid shut.
IC Code 7.1-5-10-23 says…”if a person reasonably appears to be less than 40 years of age they are required to supply proof of birth.” The graphic of me at the top of the column needs to be updated. My hair is grayer and my moustache longer. I think that sketch is older than the cashier carding me.
I checked with the local office of the State Excise Police and was told excise enforcement does not like having the blame for customer inconvenience placed at their feet. “Corporations should not be blaming the alcohol enforcement division for their lack of common sense policies,” Excise Officer Christine told me.
Well I can agree with that. Only in the corporate world would you blame the people who control the renewal of your license to sell alcohol as the reason for inconveniencing senior citizens to prove their age.
In that last millennium, back when I was 30, I thought it was flirtatious for a comely barmaid to card me to see if I was old enough to drink. But that was then; this is now and now it is an idiotic intrusion to be thought to be under age 21.
Whether it is showing a driver’s license or giving a date of birth (I usually give one in 1995 that calculates I am only 22 just to see if the cashier is paying attention or just going through the motions), it is an inconvenience and an intrusion.
I am not in favor of selling alcohol to those not old enough to buy it. But there needs to be shown some corporate common sense (but alas, that is a contradiction of terms).
There is a business phrase for those of us who feel abused by corporate “nuke ‘em all” policies: former customers.
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Caution To All Cashiers: If a tall, gray haired man with a long moustache approaches your check out register with alcohol, to purchase, don’t ask him for an ID, enter your own date of birth, and he will leave you with a smile, a thank you, and glowing remarks on the online survey you always ask to be completed.