Eight pm on a wet Wednesday in November and my daughter and I were driving back to Dorset. We'd been stuck in rush-hour traffic for hours so we decided to stop at a motorway service station, buy a coffee and pick up some groceries from Waitrose. At the last minute I threw a bottle of Pinot Grigio into the shopping basket and, chattering 19 to the dozen, we patiently waited our turn in the queue.
When we got to the till the young assistant smiled at us, glanced at the wine and said to my daughter: "I'll need to see your ID for that."
We both laughed merrily and waited for him to start scanning our items.
"I'll need to see your ID" he repeated - and finally the penny dropped. He wasn't joking.
"But it's not my daughter buying the wine, it's me" I said, showing him my credit card.
"Yes, but you might be buying it for her" he replied.
"But I'm not. Besides, she's nearly 22 and it's not her buying it. It's me - and I'm buying it on my own card"
The rest of the queue was so astonished by this time that they joined in the conversation. For a start my daughter not only isn't under-age, but she doesn't look under-age. She regularly buys drinks in London and never gets asked for ID. Not only that, this was a middle-aged woman buying some Pinot Grigio - not a party-goer clutching five crates of beer and two bottles of vodka.
"Does that mean that if I was buying a bottle of wine and I had a toddler with me you wouldn't be able to sell it to me? " asked the woman behind me..
Good point, I thought, but the assistant told her it would be pretty obvious that she would be buying it for herself and not for her child.
We thought about dashing back to the car to get my daughter's ID but it was pouring with rain. And anyway, we didn't want the Pinot Grigio THAT much!
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