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Yesterday I popped into the local supermarket to pick up a couple of bottles of plonk. When I reached the check-out, the checkout assistant asked how old I was. When you get to my age, the years start to blur together and it took me a few moments to give the correct answer: 38.
Given the assistant appeared to have doubts as to whether I was 18 or over, this was probably not the answer he was expecting. He then, in all seriousness, asked if I had any ID to prove my age. Eventually, I managed to produce something showing my date of birth as being in 1972. The assistant could not believe this.
Now, those readers who have met me, and seen by worn and haggard features (I have worked in costs for the last 14 years) will obviously find this story entirely implausible. To be fair, it was cold and raining so I was wearing a baseball cap to keep my head dry. I suppose the checkout assistant must have thought I looked so “down and with the kids” that I was obviously still in my teens. And I didn’t even have it on back-to-front.
It does remind me of an occasion when I was still at university and having some drinks with friends in a pub. The girlfriend of one of those present came into the pub and showed her boyfriend a small piece of paper. She was another student at the university. It was a bus ticket. For a child. When she had asked for a ticket into town the bus driver had, without being asked, automatically issued her with a child’s ticket. At the time, children’s tickets were only available up to the age of 14. This was met with some merriment. However, as the boyfriend commented: “Don’t knock it. Some people pay good money for that kind of thing”.
I have to admit that I am not asked for proof of my age on a regular basis. I think the last time was when I was in a Happy Shopper buying some vodka and Special Brew. When I was 16 or 17.
Still, back to my story, I did walk out of the supermarket with a spring in my step on the basis that there was at least one short-sighted checkout assistant who thought I could pass for less than half my age. Then I got back to the office and read the latest set of Replies to land on my desk. And lost the will to live again.