You know what’s weird? Yesterday I was feeling bored and depressed, and today I’m feeling comparatively cheerful and motivated. What’s that all about, eh?
Anyway, on my way home I stopped in at the Fitzrovia branch of Tesco to pick up some dinner, because fuckit it’s my birthday tomorrow and I don’t feel like cooking. And while there, I witnessed an altercation that made me feel mildly superior.
Now, I’m no stranger to altercations in Tesco. I well remember the time I entered the Colliers Wood branch at 4am, pleasantly sozzled and in need of a sandwich, only to have to duck to avoid a low-flying shopping basket. I can understand that customers can get a bit lairy, particularly when they’ve had a skinful and are angry and/or horny, but I really don’t think there’s any need for the checkout staff to join in the spat, particularly when I just want a goddamn BLT and a bottle of Pepsi, dammit. I considered complaining, but then the automatic checkout in another branch malfunctioned and gave me £20, so I decided that was quits.
Anyway, the altercation I witnessed in the Fitzrovia branch was much less lively and much more commonplace, though no less loud. Essentially, it revolved around a couple of chavettes who didn’t have any ID with them and were attempting to buy booze (a bottle of some sort of lethal-looking spirit, possibly Jeyes Fluid – ah, the follies of youth!)
Now, as chavs are wont to do, upon being refused, they made a huge fuss – lots of shouting and swearing. To be honest, I couldn’t tell if they were under 18 or not myself, due to their awful awful make-up.
I don’t quite understand this tendency to make a lot of fuss when you don’t get your way. Because not only will you not get the booze, you will not be allowed back into the shop. Even if you genuinely are over 18.
Now, like many if not most teenagers, I tried to buy booze when I was not legally supposed to. I came up with ways of going about this. Sometimes they were successful, and sometimes they failed. I say this purely for the purposes of reminiscence, you understand, and absolutely do not advise anyone to follow in my footsteps. Because that would be illegal.
- Firstly, it was a question of choosing your venue carefully. I and my chums tended to aim for the small corner shop-type off licence rather than the big supermarket or chain offy. Your shop assistant in the big chain store has backup – a manager, possibly a security guard, people to give them support. Meanwhile, they also have someone watching over them if they do choose to serve you illegally, who can and will use them as a scapegoat if the polis come sniffing around. On the other hand, your small shop probably only has one guy who doesn’t give much of a damn.
- Go in alone. Nothing looks more blatant than a big group of teenagers.
- Choose your approach carefully. You must be confident. Dress respectably and not in an obviously teenage fashion. If there’s a group of you, send the oldest-looking one in. Act like you know exactly what you’re doing.
- The actual choice of booze is significant. A four-pack of alcopops just screams “Dad’s picking me up later.” Beer is fine. Young people who can drink legally like beer. Don’t even fucking think about Lambrini.
- Act like this is the most natural thing in the world when you approach the counter. You’ve done this a million times. Have the money ready. The aim is to get out as quickly as possible before your man behind the counter suspects that maybe you’re not the strutting man-about-town you pretend to be.
- If you were lucky at this stage, he’d take the money, you could pick up the booze and you’d be away. The perfect crime!
- If not, he’d ask for ID. At this point, the subterfuge has failed. The correct thing at this point is not to protest loudly and angrily, because technically the shoppie has you bang to rights. He can get into a lot of trouble if it turns out he’s been selling booze to minors. The correct thing to do is to act like, of course you have ID, you’d be worried if he didn’t ask, what with all the young delinquents about but – oh damn, you’re so used to not being asked that you’ve clean forgotten.
- Act in a gentlemanly fashion. I don’t blame you, old sport, you’re only doing your job. Let me see if I’ve left it in the car, &c, &c. Turn on your heel and confidently stride out.
- Try the offy on the next street, the guy there is like 90 and doesn’t speak English.