How long is it since you were asked that question?
Personally, I’d have to go back to my early twenties when a tobacconist asked me for ID. At the time I remember initially thinking it was hilarious: I was at least 20 and he thought I might not even be 16. My good humour soon faded when he wouldn’t serve me…
Going back a bit further, I can remember getting oh-so-dressed-up for nights out in Norwich, doing my best to look ‘cool’ and nonchalantly over-18. We’d memorise our false dates of birth, testing one another to make sure that we could deliver the correct information on cue. Standing in that line approaching the door was the most nerve-wracking thing ever- the potential for humiliation so horribly real.
This all came back to me in a local shop this afternoon. A teenage girl, at a guess somewhere between 14 and 15, asked for cigarettes . She’d obviously been practising her delivery and it wasn’t at all bad:
I listened in, pretending to be making a very difficult decision: Crunchie/drifter? Crunchie/Milkyway? Crunchy, drifter AND Milkyway?
Her mistake? It was textbook: she delivered her request in that really fast voice that teens always use when they’ve stood round the corner for 10 minutes deciding what to say. Mistake No2 was the handful of change that she looked set to present to the shopkeeper- clear evidence of a hasty whipround. Sure enough the shop keeper asked her for ID- well done that woman! Good to see standards being upheld.
The wilful teen didn’t hesitate for a second:
“Nah, but I’m 18 next week”
“Ha!” thought I as I picked up the drifter (solid choice, ratio of wafer to chocolate practically renders it a cereal bar): “You won’t get away with that young lady!”
“Ok, here you go, just this once- bring your ID next time”
WHAT?! What happened to sending off under-agers with a flea in their ear? Times have changed and I’m feeling old. It’s a wonder she didn’t offer to help me across the road…