Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just doing his job

The young man at the counter seemed pleasant enough, his dark hair pulled back in a neat ponytail. It was hot and we were in a hurry to get home. Last stop the bottle shop to collect a couple of bottles of wine and a few cans of gin and tonic, the UDL brand, the stuff I enjoy on a hot day.


‘Where’s your proof of age,’ the man said to my eighteen-year-old daughter who stood beside me.
‘It’s not for her,’ I said. ‘It’s for me.’
‘It doesn’t matter,' he said. 'No proof of age, no sale.’
‘But I’m not buying it for her. It's for me.’
‘Sorry, that’s the law. No proof of age, no sale.’

She could have been my best friend’s daughter. She could have been anyone, but because we were together they questioned my right to buy alcohol in the mistaken belief I was buying it for her.

‘But it’s for me, not for her,’ I said again.
‘It doesn’t matter. It’s the law. I could get fined $6000.00.’
‘It’s absurd.’
‘It’s the law.’
‘If I go out now and go elsewhere then come back alone later, will you sell it to me then?’ I asked. My daughter tugged at my arm to leave.
The young man shook his head. ‘Coles Liquorland is over the way. You can go there.’

We left the store. I would have battled on but my daughter was mortified.
‘You re such an embarrassment screeching at him like that. It’s not his fault. He’s just doing his job.’

She’s right, of course. He was just doing his job, but a little too rigidly I fear.

Now I don’t know what to do with my rage. I can’t believe it. It’s worse than having the supermarket staff routinely inspect your bags, as if you were a thief.

Maybe all my anxiety and rage at other things gets puddled into this pool. I am livid. Even as I understand the rules about not selling alcohol to minors. Even as I understand the need for young folk who look under twenty five to have proof of their age when buying alcohol.

‘I told you I didn’t want to go in,' my daughter said to me. ‘You’re such an embarrassment.’

My husband was more empathic. And so we went back later after work to buy said wine and gin and tonic. I saw the young man filling shelves at the back of the shop. I smiled at him. He smiled back. I suspect he did not recognise me from earlier in the day until I said to him that I’d come back, but this time with my husband who was clearly not underage.

I smiled again, in what I thought was a friendly smile, a smile to make peace perhaps. He might have seen it as provocative.
‘I can’t allow you to buy anything within the same day,’ he said.
‘You’re kidding,’ I said.
‘That’s ridiculous,’ my husband said, and called for the manager.

For the next ten minutes we argued with the young man and his manager. The young man had formed the impression that because my daughter had carried those cans of gin and tonic to the counter they were for her. She had no proof of age – she had left her wallet at home – therefore, no purchase.

I can now tolerate the notion that he thought I was buying alcohol for my daughter who had no proof of age, but that he could not then sell me anything six hours later on the premise that I would go home and give it to my daughter continues to enrage me.

The manager in the end let us buy what we had come in for in the belief that we were genuine. But next time, he said, just make sure your daughter has her proof of age.

By the look of things there won’t be a next time, at least not for a while. My daughter is too mortified to be seen in this shop with or without me.

I have not been able to get this situation out of my head. Is it the business of being refused? Is it the stuff of being made to feel guilty or bad? Sure, I have taken it personally, which I need not have done, but it is the second guessing that goes on in such a young man’s mind that bugs me.

Is it the firmness of youth that he should take things so seriously? That he cannot discriminate. The rules are the rules.

The idea that he could not serve me in the twenty four hours following that purchase. How literal must he be?

I do not know how, but this situation has leached into my consciousness and gotten under my skin in a way that I might only understand in the fullness of time.

I begin to feel like a criminal.

Is it because I was buying alcohol and alcohol is loaded for me? My ancestry?
Is it because as a child I once travelled on trains without a ticket and shoplifted lollies from the milk bar? Is the legacy of my childhood wrong-doing catching up with me? Or is it because I am sensitive to rules that have an arbitrary and ambiguous quality?

68 comments:

ellen abbott said...

No of course not. None of those things. the kid was being a jerk. He was making himself feel powerful or was afraid of losing his job. I would say that he was just afraid except for his behavior 6 hours later. and the manager too. clearly they don't value your patronage and if I were you I wouldn't shop there again.

Yvonne Osborne said...

How ridiculous! I've never heard of such a thing. I think I'd be writing a passel of letters to the newspaper and whoever I could think of. It would at least make you feel better.

Christine said...

Yes,,, I wonder what is going one here? It does sound like you were caught up in a situation where the young man was not going to be wronged. My husband says his kids used to take him along to get their party grog.. they were probably under-age at the time. Different part of the state...
Whatdoes the legislation say?

I understand the sensitivity to rules...I wonder whether the young man in question is also sensitive to rules? I know, myself, that I can get very literal when there is some sort of authority figure in my mind... usually one that I am frightened of for some reason. But then I can also be subversive.

Windsmoke. said...

That's just way over the top a little discretion and a tad of common sense on the the part the young man and the manager and this situation wouldn't have got out of hand. If it was me i'd be going elsewhere to purchase alcohol :-).

Andrew said...

This is absurd. If it is the law, which I doubt, then it is even more absurd. The same thing happened to me with my youthful boyish looking 32 year old sister in law who is a surgeon. I carried the drinks and I was paying, but they wanted her to show ID. She did and said to me, thanks uncle.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

The state's paranoia around intoxicants is bizarre, all right.

The Elephant's Child said...

Truly frustrating. I suspect I would have humiliated your poor daughter further my asking to see the manager on that first visit. Alcohol is a loaded gun for me as well, but I read this as a power play. I am not however certain who's power play it is. The young man? his manager? or the store owner?

Wadjella Yorga said...

Crazy world we live in, and yes, I can relate to your inner rage - for me it stems from the ridiculousness of the rules and the unquestioning complicity in upholding them!

...totally agree that the presumed criminal intent of the consumer is disgusting!

I can't help but get all anxty about the way we are treated like sheep...The other day I was begrudgingly dragged by my 18 year old son...get this...to queue up in a corral outside a jeweller shop that was having one of those 1- day only mega sales...

There was some excuse that they were short staffed and therefore only letting in customers one or two at a time...WELL, this had me ranting about the psychology of the situation and that they were manipulating the consumer to make purchases...after all who was going to stand in line for that long and then not buy something...
uuummmm ME!

Totally embarrassed the poor kid by mouthing off about the 300% mark up and the BS nature of the supposed 75% off as we stood in line!!

By the time we got in there I was a full blown, lil miss contrary, and got into a debate about stones falling out of settings and the need for a warranty - which the shop assistant, quite condescendingly, had never heard of- only to cause further shame to said son - who merely had innocent, romantic intentions of lavishing finery on his girlfriend.

I have to admit to a sleep deprived delirium that probably had me mouthing off more than usual but just can't tolerate how we are treated as some brain dead consumer that mustn't question all that glitters!

But I have digressed...Justifiable rage Elizabeth, totally warranted...

Elizabeth said...

I don't understand this at all. She wasn't buying it; you were. It seems unnecessarily punitive and, frankly, bullshit. I wouldn't go back there and give them any more business. And I'd blow that off quick and not make it into anything other than bullshit on the part of the workers.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

In the good old USA, many years ago it was common for workers who were on strike against a particular store to picket it by walking back and forth in front of the premises with signs that said "This Shop is Unfair to Workers"--why don't you picket this one with a sign that says "This Shop is Unfair to Customers!" That should give the dingbats behind the counter food for thought--if they have anything in their heads to use as fodder.

persiflage said...

It does not seem to me that an adult would not be permitted to buy alcohol while in the company of a younger person. A six year old? Any teenager?
While I don't know what the relevant legislation in your state says, or indeed in my state, I find it hard to believe that adults must be alone in order to buy alcohol.Is she was not trying to buy it, how is the shop entitled to deny an adult the purchasing of that product?

I hope your daughter gets over her embarrassment
and realises you were right to question the shop in this situation. It was not all about her.

I would expect the bottle shop to have a copy of the legal provisions to help clarify what can or cannot be done.

Rob-bear said...

This is a very sad story. I feel badly for the young lad. He probably had some idea of the law. But he did not have the sense of how to apply it in an understanding manner. Which upset you, and your daughter. Probably unnecessarily.

One thing you might have done is asked him, and his manager, to get out the law and regulations, and show you what the problem was. The would have, I think, been educational for all concerned.

Another thought. Since you are using comment moderation, why the need to use the horrid Word Verification as well. Even with my glasses and a magnifying glass, I can Bearly read what you're throwing at me.

jane.healy said...

Elisabeth - I want to laugh, sorry it's like a Monty Python sketch!

We had licensed premises for 10 years and had to adhere to stupid laws (none quite as rigid as yours appear to be - but I'm sure they will be coming, when they see how successfully it has cured all the alcoholics in Australia) I have been in a position where I refused to serve certain customers - too drunk to actually stand up, clearly this is common sense gone out of the window.

My advice is take your custom elsewhere - the boy serving you was a prat and his comment about buying it elsewhere proves the point; and co-incidentally the point that anyone hell bent on buying more than their daily quota would just need to visit more than one outlet!

Isabel Doyle said...

I haven't considered the important parts of your post Elisabeth, but I have just read your post to Marius. His response was the same as mine: 'that's ridiculous!'

River said...

I agree it was overboard, but it's possible that was the store's policy to not sell within the 24 hours. Every store is different with their policies, I think they should be standard across the board. I wouldn't be shopping there again because of this treatment. Possibly, too, the young man had only just recently finished his alcohol/tobacco training and was being a little too cautious with a little not-wanting-to-lose-his-job thrown in.

WV= icentsed (incensed), yes you were...

Jim Murdoch said...

The first time I even attempted to but alcohol I was sixteen and went into an off-licence in Ayr which clearly indicated on the door that you had to be over twenty-one years of age before they would serve you despite the fact that you can legally buy and consume intoxicating liquor here in Scotland once you reach eighteen. The two ladies behind the counter were old biddies who I fully expected to challenge me (especially considering the fact it was a large order including several bottle of spirits) but neither batted an eye. I have never been asked to prove my age anywhere. I have always looked older than my true age. Even when I was still at school I and could travel on the buses for half-fare there were times when the conductor would insist I pay the full adult fare in fact on one occasion I was with a friend who had left school and he got on for half-fare.

If Australia is as fond of its bevvy as its reputation suggests then, like Scotland, I am confident you have a wide selection of places where you can buy strong drink. Personally I would never darken that particular establishment’s door again. I hate petty bureaucrats like that. What if your daughter had been three years old? Would you have been refused because you might have rushed round to the car park and shared a can of G and T with her? Preposterous. We have a similar rule here when it comes to headache pills: you can only buy two boxes at a time which means a maximum of 32 pills which one person could use up in four days at the maximum recommended dose. Okay, Carrie and I don’t go through that many but as we order our pills along with our weekly groceries online that means for the two of us we can only buy 32 pills at a time. All I did was wander round some chemists a few months back and buy two boxes from half a dozen different shops and now we have a nice wee stockpile and never have to fret about being in pain or have to rush down to the corner shop when I’m not feeling up to it.

I can understand your outrage and I empathise but I don’t think it’s being refused that’s the issue here. I suspect it’s being doubted. You explained the situation—honestly—and your honesty was questioned. That would infuriate me. I was reading a comic yesterday, an old DC one featuring Superman. Actually this one featured two Supermen, the first one is the one we know and love, the second was effectively the Silver Age Superman now grown old with white hair and wrinkles. In the revised DC mythology this version of Superman hails from a parallel universe where his earth is designated Earth-2. Anyway what we get is a row between these two men where the older man is pointing the finger at the so-called heroes on Earth-1 and says that it’s become neigh impossible to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys and he’s right. Comics used to be so simple just like the westerns: the good guys wore white hats, the bad guys wore black and everyone knew their place. Nowadays we are so used to people trying to get one over on us that we doubt first; it seems the safest course of action. Two men came to my door a few days back wanting me to change suppliers and my first question, although not in so many words, was: What’s the catch? Even on the Internet where there is a degree of trust up front we still hold back much just in case.

When it comes to the letter of the law I’m reminded of the Jewish commandment not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk. I’ve just read a long article discussing this—the Jews take it very literally—but they never wonder why the commandment; what’s the underlying logic? My dad taught me that the law was there to teach the Israelites compassion but now it’s just a rule to be followed blindly and stupidly.

Ellen said...

I get furious also at arbitrary rules enforced without brains. For myself, I get too furious. This has happened to me at work, where there were some really stupid rules on writing. The thing is, I feel I over-react also. Yes the rule is wrong, and being enforced arbitrarily, but I am furious out of proportion to what it is. Don't know for sure if that's what you're describing, but thought I'd venture a comment.

Molly said...

This really was taking his duties above and beyond common sense! The incident reminded me of the mindless rubbish that goes on at security checks at airports these days! I think they've put the monkeys in charge of the zoo!

aguja said...

Somehow, in this day and age, people seem to take everything so literally and there is no room for fair judgement.

I would have done exactly as you did, despite its being the young man doing his job. He should have had the discerment to evaluate the customer.

Incidentally, my daughters would have reacted just as yours did. With age, I feel that I need to stand up for my rights as I would otherwise be trampled upon. However, when I was in my early twenties and going to a pub for coffee with my mother-in-law, I was refused a coffee as I was considered under age. I even lived in the village. My mother-in-law brazened it out and we were eventually served our coffee.

Sad world of unthinking people. It is as if there is a programmimg sysytem in place.

I suggest that you look at my Friday post as it might cheer you up. I hasten to add that I am not an underaged writer!!!

jabblog said...

Quite ridiculous. The young man was clearly overstepping the mark and being deliberately obstructive. I hope his manager had a word with him. I would feel exactly the same as you, Elisabeth. Certainly I would take my custom elsewhere and persuade others to do so too.

Kath Lockett said...

I think it's your last sentence - anybody would be rightly pissed off by such unnecessarily blind treatment.

And I see that the Parental Embarassment Factor goes beyond age twelve? Today: "Mum, you can leave me here - NO, DON'T COME UP THE STAIRS WITH ME - I can go to my friend's 12th birthday party on my own."

It's a natural phase and I know that I did and said similar things to my mother, but I walked home feeling like Quasimodo....

just jane said...

The kid took his job seriously. Luckily he is a clerk, and not a police officer, I suppose. I have no idea why someone would spend that much time arguing with a customer. It will only cause you to find another store to frequent.

Smiles,

Jane

Kirk said...

I agree with jane.healy that it sounds like a Monty Python sketch. It also reminded me a bit of the scene between Jack Nicholson and the waitress in Five Easy Pieces, though I'm sure you weren't as crude as Mr Nicholson.

I've been on both sides of that kind of situation. I've been the frustrated customer, and I've been the person behind the counter (though at McDonald's, not a liquor store.) My guess is there was nothing Fascist in the young man's intentions. That manager probably just pounded it into his head that he can't sell liquor to minors, and to watch out for the various tricks they use to buy it. Though I think a minor who wanted booze would just as soon stay outside the store and let the adult go in alone.

I can also sympathize with your daughter. I'm not saying you're like her, but my mother always gave sales people a hard time. Whenever I ate at a restaurant with her, I would inevitably feel like crawling under the table, well into adulthood.

Elisabeth said...

If it weren't Dan Murphy's, if it weren't the biggest and to my mind the best place to buy alcohol, price wise and variety wise, I'd never go there again- like my daughter - but it is, Ellen.

And I've already been back, the next day. I needed the ingredients for sangria. My oldest daughter was having a party last night to celebrate her thirtieth birthday and she wanted to treat her guests to something Spanish.

It's a huge store, and with many staff. I'm unlikely to encounter even the manager who worked on that fateful day or the young staff member for some time, but I tell you now, if I ever go again with my youngest daughter I'll be sure she has her proof of age. I can't be bothered being stressed further by such ridiculous stoushes.

Thanks, Ellen.

Elisabeth said...

Writing about it here has already made me feel very much better, Yvonne. And particularly with the response from you and other commenters who can also see the ridiculousness of the situation. It makes me feel far less alone.

I suppose could write a swag of letters to the newspapers but perhaps for me it's enough to blog about it.

Thanks, Yvonne.

Elisabeth said...

I think you're right, Christine, this young man is sensitive to rules, a feature of his youth perhaps or of his personality. He didn't strike me as a control freak but I sensed he derived some pleasure out of being able to say no to the likes of me. Still it bounced back on him in the end, and as much as he could justify his actions, I hope he has learned something helpful from the experience. Certainly I have.

Lots of parents buy alcohol for their children who are underage, but these days they do it underground. In fact I know of few who don't but the state can get into these matters and try to exert control in the domestic sphere that can become ridiculous as in this situation.

I'm not sure how we deal with these issues. there is a problem with young people's excess drinking, but to me it isn't a problem if in moderation, as I say all the time to my children. I think there has to be a better way than such rigid vigilance. to me it fuels the rantings of the thought police and I am against that.


Thanks, Christine.

Marja said...

I would totally feel the same. I wouldn't like it when someone assumes something and then treat it as if is the only truth when it is based on air.
Very strange when you come in with your husband and still sell you something.
I think the young man takes his job a bit too serious and the manager should have a talk to him to explain things to him.

Elisabeth said...

As I said to Ellen earlier, Windsmoke, I'd shop elsewhere if it weren't that the store Dan Murphy's holds the widest and best value range of liquor in Melbourne as far as i know. I will try not to let my pride get in the way of economy and convenience.

Thanks, Windsmoke.

Elisabeth said...

It's extraordinary, isn't it Andrew? For you, too. Here in Melbourne they reckon if you look under twenty five they reserve the right to see your ID, but it can get ridiculous, the arbitrariness of it all.

One day they might routinely ask for proof pf age irrespective of our age. I wouldn't put it past certain zealots.

Thanks, Andrew.

Elisabeth said...

It's a paranoia that's been around for centuries I imagine, Glenn.

Think of the bootlegging days of yesteryear. Such restrictions and repression inevitably breed black markets and deception. It becomes counter productive.

Thanks, Glenn.

Elisabeth said...

I suppose it is a type of power play, Elephant's Child and like you I'm not sure whose power is at stake. The manager mentioned a training course the employees attend and maybe they've had it drummed into them that they should not be taken advantage of by unscrupulous customers like me. Who knows what it's all about? It's frustrating though.

Thanks, Elephant's Child

Elisabeth said...

No digression at all, Wadjella Yorga. This is my point too: both the 'presumed criminal intent of the consumer' as you suggest and also the expectation that as consumers we are either criminal in motive or as you say like brain dead sheep. I also despise the up selling that goes on in so many places.

United in our rage. That's quite a saga with your son. I can see why you'd be so enraged and also why he'd be mortified. It's such a hard call, this parenting thing when it comes to helping our young adults.

Thanks, Wadjella

Elisabeth said...

It seems like and sounds like bullshit, Elizabeth, but there are those who would probably reckon it's a legitimate thing to do, namely to suspect me of being a mother who was trying to buy alcohol for her underage daughter before their very eyes.

The thing that puzzles me is who in their right minds would try such a trick. If I were seriously buying alcohol for my underage daughter, I'd most probably leave her behind. Why invite trouble?


Thanks, Elizabeth.

Elisabeth said...

I have thought about that old adage, Vassilis - 'the customer is always right'. Not anymore it seems.

A picket up and down the street in front might attract some unfavorable publicity, perhaps not only for the store.

I've learned my lesson. I won't invite such trouble again. Courageous as I may be, I couldn't stand more of this nonsense. Let the bureaucrats reign. We will subvert them from behind the lines within the blogosphere perhaps.

Thanks, Vassilis.

Elisabeth said...

We didn't ask to see the legal provision, Persiflage, but my husband has legal knowledge and challenged the manager on some of his notions.

If he had refused us that second time around, we might have taken it further, but for now, we will live and learn, our mouths still agape at the craziness of it all.

I'm with you on the arbitrariness of this, too. At what point do you decide a parent could be buying alcohol for their child, as a ten year old, twelve, fifteen, or do you wait until the child looks as though she/he could be eighteen: my daughter's actual age now?

Thanks, Persiflage.

Momo Luna said...

Sorry Elisabeth, i also grinned at first because of the silliness of it. A stubborn young man, thinking he's doing alright. But in the situation i would have reacted as you: i also would be angry, because this young man is doubting your truthfullness and responsibility. That would p*ss me off for sure. :-)

Elisabeth said...

I'm sorry about the comment verification, Rob Bear. I'll get someone who understands these things better than me to try to rectify it. I know the new system is appalling.

As for the young man, I felt sorry for him, too, especially once my husband came in on the act and accused him of idiocy. The young man was - in his mind I'm sure - only doing his job, but as I've said earlier, a little too earnestly.

Thanks, Rob-Bear.

Elisabeth said...

A Monty Python sketch indeed, Jane. That's a good way to describe it, and clearly you would know. There is something for common sense but these days the rules and regulations take over from common sense and things become even more ridiculous than before.

Australia is the land of what once was called six o'clock closing. At five to six pm every week day and Saturday the hard core drinkers would line up a row of glasses along the bench so that they could continue drinking well after the six o'clock shut down. Rather than curbing excess drinking the time limit simply fueled it.

Thanks Jane Healy.

Elisabeth said...

It was ridiculous, Isabel. I'm glad you and Marius agree. You'd recognize the symptoms from where you sit. Only in Australia I suppose.

Thanks, Isabel.

Elisabeth said...

An apt word verification, River. It's uncanny the way such things happen. As for consistency across stores, I agree it'd be a good idea, but whether it will ever happen is anybody's guess.

The thing about these rules though is that their implementation is also subjective. I might see someone as being underage while someone else has no such notion.

Thanks, River.

Mary LA said...

Extraordinary post Elisabeth, I felt mingled outrage and laughter at such absurdity. A misguided protectiveness masking the desire to control, to refuse, to put the worst conjecture on a situation, to abuse power.

But such underlying ambivalence about alcohol itself on the part of those selling alcohol -- and you know I come from a recovery background -- but what was that about? The idea that you were an irresponsible mother as though alcohol in itself is poison for anyone under adulthood. As opposed to France, where children drink a glass of wine at restaurant meals with their parents and nobody blinks. If anything, the presence of a parent buying liquor together with their daughter should have been reassuring. The alcohol itself is not the problem, the abuse or dependency on alcohol is the issue.

And out here too, in a small farming village, I don't boycott traders, can't afford to do so, there is nowhere else to go. We go on meeting and treading softly around the minefield.

Rose said...

Elizabeth,
Good for you for toughing it out! It was rather silly as you were the one buying the stuff - you daughter was merely carrying the stuff. They should then prohibit persons under the age of 18 to enter the store with their parents :D Once he had asked for your daughters id there was no back-peddling for him and he obviously takes his power of control very seriously indeed!
the shopowners here are tested by police 'entrapment' meaning the police send in a teen under 18 to buy liquor to see if they are asked to produce their id or not.
Otherwise I have not heard of parents being harrased because their children are assisting them by carring the alcohol :D And this 24 hour thing really sounds a little suspect ...

Anonymous said...

I understand your rage, Elisabeth. His position makes no sense. It's like a generational thing now - youth think they know everything. I hate being questioned by someone younger - not that I try to play the age card. And - it's nice to be known and trusted inside your local winestore. You're giving them your money - I think. Hope you're feeling better and won't go back to shop there anymore.

Art Durkee said...

No he wasn't just doing his job. He was being a prig. He will grow up and become one of those bureaucrats who enjoy telling people they can't help them unless every form is perfect, and even then, will find some way to deny them services that in fact they are required to give. He will grow up and become one of those people who Follow Every Rule, even the stupid ones. Gods help us, those are the kind of people who like to become politicians purely so they can tell the rest of us how to live.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

So nice to meet you. I am looking forward to being a follower of your site and getting to know you.
I am like you about this young man. It would of bothered me very much even though like you said he was doing his job. I have never heard of the 24 hour thing he mentioned to you.
Glad I found you
Maggie

Elisabeth said...

I agree, Jim, the issue of being doubted rests at the heart of this drama. I have calmed down since that episode and also I've returned to the shop despite yours and other people's advice to avoid the place. I refuse to turn my life into one of inconvenience on the grounds of a principle. Chances are I will never see the young man again.

As for the story of you, Carrie and your headache pills, I haven't heard of such restrictions for ordinary painkillers in Australia. I'm sure I could walk into any supermarket and buy up as many packets of Panadol as I might want, though I've never tried.

In my own experience, I've never been asked to show proof of age, but I never frequented the sorts of places where you might need it until I was well into my twenties. Fancy being able to buy alcohol when you were such a young one. Old before your time it seems, or maybe the function of a first born as opposed to one who is sixth in line.

Thanks, Jim.

Elisabeth said...

Thank you for 'venturing' to comment, Ellen. I reckon there are times when most of us overreact, unless we have developed the art of Zen and can experience total calmness in the face of provocation. Things get under our skin and we can't avoid reacting, try as we might. \

Thanks again, Ellen.

Elisabeth said...

Airports are the worst, Molly. The number of times I've had my body and my handbag checked for explosives goes without saying and having to take off shoes and belts and bracelets, is exasperating. Maybe it helps in security but it can be frustrating, especially when faced with petty bureaucrats.

Thanks, Molly.

Elisabeth said...

I can see it from all sides, Aguja, from mine, my daughters and from the young man's perspective. And I agree with you, as we get older the more important it feels not to allow ourselves to be overruled by excess zealotry .

Thanks, Aguja.

Elisabeth said...

The trouble is Janice, this young man whom
I found obstructive probably found me to be obstructive, too. I was getting in the way of the rules. Why could I not just accept the limitations and go over the road to the other bottle-shop, rather than challenge his authority?

I'm getting over it now, but it leaves a mark in my mind. And every time I walk into the shop, which I will continue to do purely for convenience, I will remember this episode.

Thanks, Janice.

Elisabeth said...

The 'parental embarrassment factor, Kath, only heightens the tension. If my daughter were not there in the bottle shop with me - which is a ridiculous thought because if she were not there, none of this would have happened - then I imagine I might have toughed it out.

On the other hand, the embarrassment factor is necessary to help our children separate from us. i can remember feeling dreadful as a fourteen year old walking along the street with my mother. I did not want her to be seen with me, just as my daughter today refused to let me accompany her into the university bookshop to pay for her books. She would not be seen in public at such a venue with her mum. And of course I stayed away. As you do.

Thanks, Kath.

Elisabeth said...

It doesn't make a lot of logical sense, Just Jane, but then again it might make sense from the perspective of the law enforcement. It's interesting that you think of a police officer because it certainly stirred up feelings in me of law breaking.

Thanks, Jane.

Elisabeth said...

I know what you mean, Kirk ,about how embarrassing parents can be when it comes to brawling with sales people and the like. My children often complain that I'm an embarrassment in shops for saying it as I see it. I don't see myself as so terrible because I tend to be good natured and mostly friendly but like everyone I have my moments. I too have worked in retail as a young person. I too know what it's like to be behind the counter with a cranky customer. I never went to restaurants with my mother, so I can't know too much what it was like for you in such circumstances with your mother, but I can imagine it.

It sounds awful.

Thanks, Kirk.

Elisabeth said...

I know what you mean, Kirk ,about how embarrassing parents can be when it comes to brawling with sales people and the like. My children often complain that I'm an embarrassment in shops for saying it as I see it. I don't see myself as so terrible because I tend to be good natured and mostly friendly but like everyone I have my moments. I too have worked in retail as a young person. I too know what it's like to be behind the counter with a cranky customer. I never went to restaurants with my mother, so I can't know too much what it was like for you in such circumstances with your mother, but I can imagine it.

It sounds awful.

Thanks, Kirk.

Elisabeth said...

I wonder would they be so rigid in Holland, Marja, or even in New Zealand. Somehow I doubt it, though a right wing conservative element can take over in any part of the worlds, so it's possible everywhere.

Thanks, Marja.

Elisabeth said...

It's easy to get angry at such rigidity, Monica, as I did. It's just hard to work out how best to behave at the time when you are in the thick of it. I wonder what I'd do next time.

I think maybe next time I would simply avoid it. Either I'd leave my daughter behind or I'd make sure she carried her proof of age.

Thanks, Momo.

Elisabeth said...

It's a minefield, Mary, and as you say it's probably far better for parents to introduce their children to alcohol, as they do in France in moderation as a normal part of life.

But even in France I expect there are those who cannot control their alcohol. To me it's more than alcohol. It is the abuse of alcohol. But that sounds a bit too much like the argument about guns: guns don't kill, people do. I'm not sure about these things. I suppose it's our awareness of them that matters.

Thanks, Mary La.

Elisabeth said...

I suppose the fear of entrapment might be very real for this young man, Rose. He man certainly seemed fearful of getting into terrible trouble with his comment of how much he could be fined. Even as I knew it would never happen because we were bona fide. But he was not to know that.

Thanks, Rose.

Elisabeth said...

I imagine it's you, Karen, under the guise of anonymous, or if it's someone else my apologies.

As I've said to others, I will continue to shop at Dan Murphy's. It's a huge place and well worth it price wise and convenience wise - that's not intended as a free plug for the place - but I've learned my lesson and will avoid such opportunities for angst and conflict.

They happen. They're inevitable but they are also unnecessary if they can be avoided.

Thanks.

Elisabeth said...

I'd hate to think of this young man as a would-be politician, Art, but you may well be right. Something has to drive such officiousness. I go up and down in this regard.

In one moment in my mind he's a young innocent just doing his best, doing his job, and in the next he's a potential fascist determined to maintain control regardless of the consequences. In truth he's probably somewhere in between.

Thanks, Art.

Elisabeth said...

I'd hate to think of this young man as a would-be politician, Art, but you may well be right. Something has to drive such officiousness. I go up and down in this regard.

In one moment in my mind he's a young innocent just doing his best, doing his job, and in the next he's a potential fascist determined to maintain control regardless of the consequences. In truth he's probably somewhere in between.

Thanks, Art.

Elisabeth said...

I'd hate to think of this young man as a would-be politician, Art, but you may well be right. Something has to drive such officiousness. I go up and down in this regard.

In one moment in my mind he's a young innocent just doing his best, doing his job, and in the next he's a potential fascist determined to maintain control regardless of the consequences. In truth he's probably somewhere in between.

Thanks, Art.

Elisabeth said...

How lovely to meet you here, Grandma Yellow hair, otherwise known as Maggie. I think I could even describe myself in this way, a grandma with yellow hair. I'm glad you understand my dilemma with this young man who has become something other than a real person in my mind over time.

It's funny how writing about some people can tend to fictionalise them even without trying. Thanks, Maggie.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a comment to leave initially, but then I remembered something.
We lived in a 'Dry' area but my Mum could cash a cheque at 5 licensed grocers between Mont Albert and Hawthorn!!
And they all greeted her by name and she only shopped at one for actual groceries and it has only just occured to me now how odd that actually was.
Karen C

Kass said...

Rules that encourage us to think the worst of people are indeed maddening. As you've posited, it makes you question yourself and your worthiness. Not pleasant.

Elisabeth said...

I lived in that dry area as a child, and I can vaguely remember my mother being able to cash cheques as well. It seems odd today. No one wants cheques anymore and certainly I can't imagine anyone cashing them for you, except the bank.

Thanks, Karen.

Elisabeth said...

You're right about those nitpicking rules, Kass. They only wind up making people feel bad. Thanks.

JeannetteLS said...

First, I DO think that the 24 hour regulation when you came back is downright nuts. I would say this, however, one thing in defense of the indefensible.

When my kids were under age, I found out via the grapevine that one of the neighbors down the street, a lovely lady about fifty or so, used to buy the beer for the boys. One would come into the store and "help" her with the case.

After a year or so, she got busted, but the young man at the package store from then on carded everyone who set foot in the liquor store.

Maybe he got nabbed for being too lax at one point. Perhaps he did learn a lesson from all this. Hope so... but the law may be overboard, but it is overboard at a time when substance abuse of all sorts, especially alcoholism is rampant. At least in the states it is.

How I wish moderation would catch on!

As I said at the opening, though, the situation when you back, to ME, is totally overboard.

(I've missed your blog lately and I Don't like missing it ONE BIT.)