I live in a state -- Pennsylvania, to be specific -- which has draconian alcohol laws. There are no private liquor stores. Until recently, you could not purchase beer or wine in a supermarket. There are still precious few supermarkets which actually offer beer; wine is still not available. You cannot simply buy a six-pack in Pennsylvania. You can only buy beer by the case. I personally don't necessarily WANT a case of any one beer. I'd like to mix things up. But until the state loosened up a tiny bit on the grocery store thing, if I wanted a Blue Moon tonight and a Guinness tomorrow, I needed to purchase a case of each. And find someplace to store them. I am told that the rationale for this was to reduce alcohol consumption.
How forcing me to purchase a case of beer instead of a six-pack reduces my alcohol consumption remains a mystery.
Still, as I said, a few chosen grocery stores have been selected to try selling beer, by the six-pack, and I am lucky enough to have one of these stores a couple of miles from my home. Today I did my grocery shopping and afterwards thought it might be nice to have a couple of beers waiting in the fridge for my wife and I for her day off work later in the week.
I was in line at the "Beer Garden" behind a couple of women who were buying a couple of six-packs. Here's a stupid thing: the grocery is obliged under Pennsylvania law to card everyone who makes a beer purchase. Everyone. Even those of us like myself who are clearly more than old enough to legally buy beer. So one of the women in front of me asked the other to hold onto both six-packs while she got her ID out. Here's a stupider thing: the clerk refused to serve them. Apparently ALSO under the experimental grocery beer law, the clerk can only accept ID from the person who is holding the beer. If another person touches the beer while in line and the clerk sees it, the clerk must card that person as well. Moreover, if the person who touched the beer is not the person purchasing the beer, the beer cannot be sold.
Got all that?
Now finally, the stupidest thing: The ladies really wanted to get their beer while they were at the store. The clerk had to walk them back to the shelves, watch them put the beer back, and watch the person who was going to be carded then pick the beer back up and walk it over to the register. You still with me? They had to be escorted back to the shelves, put the beer back like naughty kindergarteners, and be watched while only one of them picked the beer back up and carried it back to the cash register.
All while I was waiting in line to be served, along with seven or eight other (equally incredulous) people.
Luckily they got it right the first time and only the person who was paying for the beer and being carded touched the beer this time. A huge moral crisis was apparently averted.
There has been a movement for some time here promoting the privatization of liquor stores. Up until today, I was against it -- I think the state does a pretty good job with selection and service, and my home state of New Jersey, which has private stores, has a pretty seedy bunch of them retailing liquor. The PA State Stores have a little class, at least.
However, after today, I'm no longer quite as sure as I was. It was so effing STUPID. And I hate stupid.