Photo: Deklofenak (iStock)

The Manchester Evening News reports on a 66-year-old man in the U.K. who is “absolutely incensed” after an Aldi refused to sell alcohol to him because he was accompanied by his 26-year-old daughter, who entered the store without an I.D.

Ken Deeks was attempting to purchase “bottle of whiskey and packs of lager and bitter” along with the rest of his groceries. He was prevented from buying the booze when his daughter, who Deeks says “looks at least 20 years old,” was unable to provide an I.D. As he told the Manchester Evening News:

“I told them she wasn’t the one who was buying it. My daughter was extremely upset. She went to the car in tears. She was humiliated and embarrassed because the whole shop had heard what was going on. If I go back there again can I go in with her? What about parents with children in trolleys?... I’m absolutely incensed by this.”

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The store apologized to Deeks for the inconvenience but stands by the employee’s decision. To restate, that decision was to not sell alcohol to the man because he was accompanied by his daughter, who was asked for her I.D. and did not have one to provide.

I am not an expert on the drinking laws in the U.K.—the drinking age is 18, that’s all I’ve got. But I can tell you that, per the Evening News, Aldi operates under a Challenge 25 policy. In short, that means that employees of the store are supposed to ask for I.D. when a customer looks like they could conceivably be under 25. Laws vary from place to place, and so do store policies, but in general, employees of any place that sells booze are told some sort of policy like that. At the place I moonlight, it’s 30—if you look under 30, I have to ask for your I.D. before I sell you that bottle of tequila. That’s the deal. If you don’t have an I.D., then I don’t know your age, and I can’t sell you the booze. Very simple. And that goes for anyone accompanying you, if it’s possible you could be buying the booze for them (something that happens a lot when you’re near a college campus, which I am.)

Yet people, like the probably normally very nice Mr. Deeks, very often decide to be a total freakin’ dick about the process.

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Listen, I’ve been there. I went gray really early so I don’t get carded much, but I’ve been asked for and been unable to provide any proof of my age. It happens! I’m a mess, I forget my transit card and my wallet and my keys and all manner of shit, all the time. But that’s the deal. You have to be a certain age to buy booze. If you can’t prove it, you can’t do it. And that sucks, it can be super inconvenient and maybe embarrassing (as was the case with Mr. Deeks’s daughter, apparently, as she was, in his words, “humiliated”). But you know what? The person behind the counter didn’t make you forget your damn I.D.

Here’s what’s at stake for you, on a particularly rough day: You can’t buy that bottle of champagne you promised to bring to that baby shower and people are going to be pissed about it, or you can’t buy the bottle of bourbon you have to replace before the people for whom you’re housesitting come back. Sucks, man. Sorry. You have to go try another store and hope you get lucky, or go home and get your I.D., or go home and order online, with your I.D., or call a friend who has an I.D. and ask them to buy it for you somewhere.

Here’s at stake for that (likely super underpaid) person on the other side of the counter, if they sell you that booze even though you forgot your damn I.D.: They could get fired. In some places, they could face legal penalties. If they’re lucky, no one notices at all and you’re not a secret shopper or a government employee. If they’re slightly less lucky, they get dressed down by a manager of some kind, but hey, at least they didn’t get fired or fined.

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But no matter what, they know from the second you realize you don’t have your I.D. that you’re going to be upset, and that there’s a decent chance that you’ll storm out without paying for that fancy cheese and that bag of chips you were also going to buy. There is no upside. The best case scenario is that you’re cool about it and it’s just an awkward interaction that puts them on edge but doesn’t go anywhere shitty. The worst case is way worse than you calling a friend or trying another store or going home to get your damn I.D.

I am sincerely sorry that this experience so strongly affected Mr. Deeks’s daughter that she had to go cry in the car. He says she has an anxiety disorder. I do, too, it’s the worst, and this sounds like it was probably a pretty tense interaction. But most of my sympathy here extends to the Aldi employee who just did their damn job and is now seeing a guy who was “absolutely incensed” with them in the damn paper because of the “offense” to his daughter.

If you, or your daughter who looks like she might be underage, gets carded while trying to buy booze, hand over your I.D. If you can’t, just be cool. You can always come back with your stinking I.D. later and get your stinking booze.

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Which, by the way, is exactly what Mr. Deeks did:

He eventually went back to the store alone several hours later and was allowed to buy the alcohol.

That’s how it works. And it would have worked that way without anyone being a dick. Just be cool, okay?

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