Cheez-Its, huh? Can I see your ID?

So, I’m at City Market last week, loading up on Cheez-Its and Coke. I run into a girl from one of my classes; she’s picking up some brews. We’re in line, making small talk. She hands her ID to the clerk, when the clerk turns around and asks me for my ID. I tell the clerk that I wasn’t aware that I needed to show my ID to buy Cheez-its and Coke; she responds, “I saw you guys talking.” Well, guilty as charged, lady. Long story short, the clerk wouldn’t sell her alcohol because I, behind her in line buying snacks, wasn’t 21. She left, empty-handed and undoubtedly humiliated in front of the long line that had accumulated behind her during the ordeal. I, of course, felt like a schmuck.   It’s often store policy to ID everyone in a group; though, in this situation, we clearly weren’t in the same group.   I wouldn’t waste column inches ranting about a disgruntled clerk on a power trip at City Market if I didn’t think it was emblematic of a larger problem that many of us are all-too-familiar with – age discrimination. Let’s be honest, if either of us in this situation looked like we were 30, it wouldn’t have happened.   Though it is in the self-interest of stores that sell alcohol to verify that the purchaser is indeed 21 – I think it’s inappropriate to make arbitrary distinctions about the relationship of the purchaser to other persons in line, or inquire where the alcohol will be served. Sure, college students will pretty much do anything possible to get their hands on booze, but it isn’t the responsibility of vendors to ask where that thirty of Natty Ice is going once it’s out of the store. Yeah, it’s probably going to Isham or North Union or Trinity, for that matter, but that’s beside the point.   I don’t even think it’s acceptable for stores to ID everyone in a group. To deny someone who is of the legal drinking age the opportunity to purchase alcohol, regardless of the circumstances, is discrimination. Do two thirty-something parents both have to show their IDs? If I was grocery shopping with my mother, would I be ID’d? Obviously, these policies are targeted at preventing underage drinking. But my mother could easily buy me a cartful of beer and no store would ever think twice about it.  (She would like it be known that she would do no such thing. Lisa Despart is a saint, dammit. A saint.)   College kids who are 21+ shouldn’t have to be harassed every time they purchase alcohol by a clerk who aspires to be Dick Tracy. We shouldn’t have to worry about who we talk to or, God forbid, make eye contact with at the store. But if I pretend I don’t know you in City Market, you’ll know why.