There are some items (Cigarettes, adult magazines, beer) that are classified as restricted items by the law. This means that you have to be a certain age to buy them. More than that, though, you have to prove that you're old enough. This means offering up some form of accepted identification as proof. Accepted ID usually includes a driver's license, a state-issued ID card, or an active duty military ID. Sometimes, a passport may be accepted.

An expired Driver's license or state ID is not good enough... there's a reason they expire, after all - you don't look like you did when that picture was taken any more. Neither is a Dependent's Military ID. Your school ID isn't going to pull any weight. That flimsy paper temporary driver's license that the DMV gives you is laughable... those can be duplicated on a good color laser printer in under an hour. A photocopied driver's license (I swear, there's a guy running around Orange, CA with one of these, insisting it's legal, and that I'm an "idiot" for refusing to sell to him) is just plain stupid.

A police officer might be willing to accept any of those listed above. He has resources above and beyond what a convenience store clerk can draw upon for verifying someone's identity. But even a cop will laugh at any of the following:

  • "I left it in my other pants." - Then you can go back and get your other pants.
  • "I'll just have my buddy come in and buy it for me." - Thanks for telling me. Now I have to refuse to sell him anything, too. It's called a Second-Party Sale, and it's against the law.
  • "Can't you tell I'm old enough?" - My judgment isn't the issue here, but thank you for both trying to deflect the question and inferring that I'm an idiot. I've seen 16-year-olds who looked 22... and 22-year-olds who looked 16.
  • "Come on, there's no cop here." - Oh, so it's only illegal if there's someone watching? And thank you again for insulting my integrity!
  • "I buy here all the time." - Then why have I never seen you before?
  • "The other guy sells to me all the time." - I'm not the other guy. I'm the one who's asking to see your ID.
  • "The cop took away my driver's license for a DUI." - Oh, that REALLY encourages me. And yet you drove up here anyway.
Carding you is part of the clerk's job. If he doesn't do it, he can get suspended, fired, fined, or even jailed. It's not any kind of an insult, and the only reason it's a "hassle" is because you choose to view it as one. Clerks with integrity won't fall for any of the above excuses, and will probably resent your giving them a hard time about it. And yet, I get someone using one or more of those lines at least once a night... and someone who goes through the whole list, then reverts to cursing at me, about once a week.

God, I love this job.