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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The woes of obtaining alcohol in America

I am 23 years old, I have a government-issued ID and yet I’m being forced to consider getting a fake ID.

I am from a country where I’ve legally been able to purchase alcohol since I was 16 and I don’t recall ever having had to show an ID. Now, almost eight years later, I feel America is infantilizing me by refusing to sell me alcohol.

The problem is that my ID is a Danish driver’s license. “You need a California ID or a California driver’s license,” cashiers tell me. In order to get this it would require months of fun with the DMV or the delightful process of getting a social security number so I don’t exactly appreciate this policy.

The supermarkets do accept my Danish passport which I refuse to bring with me when I go grocery shopping. I would like to make my case here.

Imagine that you’re in a foreign country, that this country is very different from your own, often in a very frustrating way, and that you have one document that you know can get you out of there as quickly and as painlessly as you could possibly wish for. You’re not necessarily going to leave like that, but it is sure nice knowing that you can.

Now also imagine that besides the practical aspect, this document is of nostalgic value to you. Imagine that it contains visas from Laos, Cambodia and Australia, stamps from Israel and Romania and that it generally documents some of the best experiences in your life since you were 18.

Would you want to bring this document with you grocery shopping? Or bring it with you to a pre-party at a friend’s house?

I am practical person – I go grocery shopping after school or I go to the store to buy alcohol on the way to a party at my friends’ places, and neither do I want to bring my passport with me to school nor to a friend’s house before going out.

Surprisingly enough, bars and restaurants accept my driver’s license and I am very grateful to them for that. Once, I asked a bouncer “how come?” I felt a bit weird asking that because I worried that he might think I was cheating, but I was curious.

His answer was very simple – they had been trained to recognize fake ID’s. What an enlightening idea. Why don’t you consider that, Safeway?

I resent both how it is made so difficult for me to obtain alcohol and the cashier’s assumption that I am cheating.

They are just being careful, some would say. But isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with a country where the blame is put on the person who was cheated? Why are the cashiers the ones who can get in trouble when it really should be either the person producing fake ID’s or the person who is using a fake ID?

I have spoken to women in their 40’s who have been refused to buy alcohol because they didn’t bring their ID. It’s absurd. Why don’t you rebel against this, America? It is not as if anyone believes that people under 21 don’t drink.

I assume people don’t rebel against this because the process of making change in this country would take longer than it would take to turn 21. Besides, everyone has a fake ID or an older brother or sister who looks just like them, right?

If only the supermarkets were consistent in their arguments not to accept my ID I could perhaps understand them a little better, but they’re not. And if you start asking about it, they just say it is store policy which is possibly the most frustratingly stupid reason that you just can’t argue with.

At first, I assumed that the problem might be that the few words on my driver’s license are in Danish, but it has my picture and my name followed in the next line by this number: 1991-11-04. Anyone with an IQ above 80 should be able to figure out that, yes, in fact, that was the day I was born.

Now, I know the language barrier is not the problem, although it has been argued by some cashiers, because the British people here can’t use their driver’s licenses either.

One cashier told me it was too easy to make a fake European driver’s license. Something my fellow Europeans and I would have zero clue about because we never had to look into that.

I could understand if the cashiers were suspicious of a person with a perfect American accent, presenting a European driver’s license, but we all have distinctly different accents. However, it seems like American supermarkets much prefer making life difficult for the not insubstantial amount of foreigners here instead of using common sense.

A word of advice, Savemart, Safeway and Trader Joes and : if we, the foreigners, were to use a fake ID it would probably be an American one. As opposed to here, selling fake ID’s to university students is simply not a thriving business where I am from.

So, a fake ID… I hear a New York one should be good, but I wouldn’t know because never in my life did I imagine that I should even consider getting a fake ID, especially not as a 23-year-old, but I guess that’s what uptight alcohol restriction laws will do to you.


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