Thursday, December 9, 2004

The One about The ID Policy December 9th

I was buying cigarettes at the grocery store the other day when the clerk asked to see my ID.

Yes, I smoke. Get over it.

Now I'd heard about the new store policy that says clerks are required to look at the ID of anyone purchasing alcohol or tobacco. I knew that on paper their policy was to card everyone, regardless of age, rather than face the wrath of our litigious society. I just didn't believe that this 'ideal' would carry over into the real world, where common sense insists that the grandmother at the counter might just be old enough to tip one back.

But apparently, these people actually read the memos on the break room wall.

I must admit to being a little put out. I'm long past the point where being carded makes you feel cool and grownup, but I'm also too young to find it flattering. I can see questioning me over liquor, but cigarettes? I was old enough to buy them before the checkout girl was born.

And it's not like I don't look my age. I had two days worth of stubble - which for any other man would be a week's growth - and thinning hair. I had two kids in my cart. I wear a wedding ring. I was paying with a credit card. And if that wasn’t enough, the Eisenhower/Nixon T-shirt really should have been a tip-off.

In retrospect, it doesn't seem like they asked the world. But if you've ever tried to keep two toddlers quiet and happy at a grocery store, you can appreciate how desperate a thirty second delay can be. A weeks worth of cigarettes do less damage to my health and well being.

I understand that a company has to protect its financial well-being, but more and more it seems to be at the expense of logic and responsibility. If my kids purchased cigarettes illegally, but without gross negligence - in other words, if they didn’t manage to do it at age ten - then my beef wouldn’t be with the store, it’d be with my kids.

Alcohol is a different story. Unlike tobacco it has immediate consequences, not only for the consumer but for people on the road. It makes sense to tighten sales policy, although I don’t see how you can justify going to the extreme the store has.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. doesn’t see it that way.

In a column published in the December 9th Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel takes issue with the ribbing the policy has been taking.

Those who have hang-ups with [the] policy have apparently neither lost a child nor been at the scene of a violent crash involving alcohol . . . I don’t find anything funny about notifying a parent that their son or daughter is dead. . . . That cashier . . .may be saving your son or daughter’s life. Do you find that incontinent?

Well, Gosh, now I feel bad. I mean here I sit, without a single casualty (knock on wood) to use to score cheap points in a debate. And you know, maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s not all about liability and twisting common sense on its head. Maybe it’s a humanitarian effort. All those ideas about how the policy essentially forgoes enforcing a perfectly good law in favor of an overboard stance . . .

What can I say? I was wrong.

No one is in favor of underage drinking. So prevent it by doing your job and carding anyone twenty-five or even thirty. I’m fine with that.

Just leave the chain smoking grandma’s alone.

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