Right, this needs to be blogged: Sainsbury’s have a serious attitude problem when it comes to alcohol and ID. (Gosh, I feel like Nic writing this!) They’re going way beyond what the law requires, and it’s ridiculous. Here’s the sob story…
After dinner, a group of us headed to a branch of the popular supermarket chain to do a quick bit of emergency shopping. I was after some orange juice, biscuits, milk… that kind of thing. Maybe even a pizza for lunch. It wasn’t exciting. At the checkout, I stand ready to pack my reusable bag (saving the planet, see) with these mundane items when the checkout lady spots a few bottles of beer and asks if I have any ID. ID? What? No? “Oh, that’s mine!” says Oliver cheerily as he takes out his proof of age. Great, let’s get going… except no. “I still need to see your ID” the woman says to me insistently. By this point she has resumed scanning, so a pile of goods is building up by the bag which I would be packing if I wasn’t standing there in a confused state. “But I’m not buying any alcohol!” “It doesn’t matter, he is.” “But he’s not with me! He’s doing his own shopping! We’re paying separately!” It won’t wash.
Trying the ‘just ignore her’ approach, I resume trying to pack but am very behind by this point. “Need any help?” asks Owen, who’s waiting for us having sped through a separate checkout, and starts helping me back. “I need ID from you too!” she shouts, accusingly. What? What?!
It turns out that Owen is now part of our ‘group’, and every single person in the group must now produce ID in order for Oliver to buy his own beer with his own ID. Abi and Joe are quickly recruited too, by dint of standing too close or conversing. Trying to negotiate, we offer our Cambridge student cards. Bearing our date of birth and photo, it’s pretty clear we’re all old enough to hypothetically buy the alcohol which we weren’t even trying to buy. But no, that’s not good enough. No, Oliver’s beer must be left behind.
How on earth did they come up with that? Does that mean that a mother or father can’t buy alcohol if their children happen to be with them? Why are we arbitrarily deemed to be a ‘group’ when we’re clearly all making separate purchases and just happen to be together? If we had just gone to separate checkouts, surely we would have defeated this system? What purpose does it serve anyway? Why doesn’t Sainsbury’s understand the most basic concepts of legal liability? How warped an attitude to alcohol are we going to have in this country? Why was I allowed to buy alcohol in the Willesden branch of Sainsbury’s without even being checked for ID myself?
Anyway, so that’s that. In-between being checked for ID for the right to talk to my friends in a supermarket queue, I actually spent my day being rather productive, writing my essay on twentieth century crime rates and watching The Apprentice alongside Abi. (You need to watch that in a group, really. It’s a programme designed for bitchy comments.)
Oh, and for next week’s Themes and Sources class the ‘surprise assignment’ turned out to be the fairly obvious one. Design your own utopia. In a group. Which is really silly, because utopias – indeed any social engineering from scratch project – is entirely pointless, but utopian planning by committee is taking it to another level. If only I was a Communist, this would be a hell of a lot easier…
One thing, however, is for sure. There will be no Sainsbury’s in my utopia.