Electronic law enforcement

It was obvious, as I approached the checkout, that all was not well. A woman, aged about 30/35, was arguing with the checkout girl. She wanted to purchase a six pack of beer but a digital message on the till displayed a stark and unbending message – “Alcohol sales prohibited” or words to that effect.

It was just two minutes after 11.00pm and despite the anger of the customer and the apologies of the checkout girl, the machine was not for changing. I tentatively proffered my six pack of non alcoholic beer but that too was rejected by the machine.

I wondered, as the burley security man cordoned off the alcohol section with a Berlin Wall type fence, why consumers could buy anything they wished in this massive 24/7 supermarket but not alcohol after certain hours.

I wondered why the owners and State authorities could not bang their heads together and allow adults to buy a couple of beers or a bottle of wine at 11.01pm or even 4 in the morning if they so wished.

Last Christmas, I witnessed an even more chaotic situation. At about five minutes to ‘closing time’ in this supermarket that never closes, there was an announcement –

“Anyone wishing to purchase alcohol should proceed immediately to a checkout.”

At least one hundred customers, manoeuvring trolley’s heavily laden with Christmas shopping looked at each other in disbelief before rushing helter skelter for the nearest checkout.

Pandemonium ensued as customers fought desperately to join the shortest queue, some even engaged in frantic negotiations with non alcoholic carrying customers in their efforts to beat the ruthless till.

One husband/wife team did manage to purchase about half of their Christmas booze before the till cut them off. Working with military precision, the wife ruthlessly ejected all items of a non alcoholic nature, clearing the way for the husband to throw as many crates and bottles as possible at a delicate checkout girl who was on the verge of abandoning her post in panic.

Sadly, few others succeeded in beating the electronic alcohol sentry and an air of despair descended over the would be Christmas revelers as this machine enforced what can only be described as an idiotic law.

I wonder what would happen if every pub and club in the country was subject to the same strict enforcement – revolution?