Friday, July 11, 2008

you'll break the law if you know what's good for you

One of the lamest things about DC is its enforcement of the goddamn law. Wait, actually, let me rephrase that: Its enforcement of selective goddamn laws. While I'm all for ticketing traffic violators (unless it's me) and arresting killers (unless it's!), I'm staunchly against blanket carding in bars.

The problem with carding everyone -- 100 percent screening, if you will -- is that it not only wastes valuable time the bartender could be using to serve and, thus, increase his or her tips, but it puts the very un-American burden on me, the citizen, to carry around a government-issued identification with me at all times (because there's a good chance I may need to get a drink at any given time on any given day).

Carrying an ID on my person at all times is a lot of pressure. What if I lose it? What if someone steals it? Then when I need it for a legitimate purpose, like getting on a plane and getting the hell out of this sick bitch of a city, I might not have it. Why? Because I had to bring it to a bar in a country in which I've been legally able to drink for almost eight years. OUTRAGED!

OK, I'm not really that outraged. In fact, I recognize that last night when I was unable to get my sauce or check out all the bands at DC9, it was my own damn fault for having forgotten to conduct the all-important bag-to-bag ID transfer before I left. Dammit.

However, despite that I clearly sabotaged myself in this particular incident, I'm convinced that had I been anywhere else in America -- Boston, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, or Grinnell, Iowa -- a state- or government-issued ID would not have been so strictly required. After all, everyone I was there with was well over 21, I am well over 21 (as much as I'd like to think I look 19, I'm pretty sure the youngest I can pass for at this point in time is maybe 24 on a good day), and I effing had one of the people playing that night vouch for me. Alas, however -- DENIED.

And while this is the first time I've experienced a technical face control in DC because I'm a disorganized jackass, this isn't the first time I've noticed the unusual amount of law-abiding carding that goes on here compared to other U.S. cities. I've seen people well into their thirties get carded in DC. Hell, I think my 61-year-old mother got carded once (although, in all fairness, she is aging extremely well, thank you genes). Bottom line -- it's a bit ridiculous.

Why is this? Does some horror story exist in DC's past where one person let one 19-year-old in one time and was sentenced to death or something? Is it an irrational fear of cops cracking down? That can't be it. Cops don't really like doing their jobs here. So what is it? I get carding bitches when it's not perfectly clear they're over 21, but when carding old folks like myself? Is it really all that necessary? Or is this The Man keeping me down sober? Damn you, The Man, damn you!


Anonymous said...

At my best friend's 30th birthday party, a certain pool hall in Chinatown would NOT let his 60-year-old mother in without ID. She had to go back to the hotel and get it.

I'm all for following the law, but that is completely ridiculous. I should've toe-kicked the bouncer in the junk, but I showed some restraint.

HomeImprovementNinja said...

A friend of mine got turned away at Buffalo Billiards once (asshats) because he forgot his driver's license. He showed them his work ID (from the Pentagon) and they said "we can't take work IDs, it has to be a state issued ID". My friend said "are you kidding? do you know how much harder it is to get one of these than a driver's license?"

LivitLuvit said...

It totally sucks, but if we did serve someone under age and got caught (some corporations even send out "secret shoppers" to see if you're carding- Champps, I don't miss you at all), we're fired on the spot and in lots of states you can't work for X number of years afterwards. Plus the bar loses their liquor license for a very, very expensive period of time.

Knowing all of that, I still never card anyone who looks older than 25. I'm a busy woman and as you said, that's precious time that can be spent slinging more booze and making more moola. But I can't hate on someone who does... it's like I tell the bratty college kids when they come in and "forgot" their I.D.; you are so not worth my job.

maryjanejeff said...

I'm a Boston area native, trust me, they're pretty anal about carding the world there, they'll arrest people for using fakes. Rattelsnake Bar and Grill wouldn't accept an acquaintance's international license or whatever, all I know is it was more secure than a passport. The guy was in his late 20s. Nope. "Not here" but at least other bars didn't give him issues. I'd go back to bars there now and still get carded once in a while, and I'm over 30.

The only times I've been carded at the door in this area, it's been a quick, orderly process where everyone gets carded at the door. That's cool with me, considering how little I go out and how quickly I can get in.

Metro Man said...

It does seem a bit extreme and overboard at times...

Velvet said...

Apparently the cops require that we carry ID at all times. I frequently get harassed for not having pups on leashes, because some laws are stupid, anyway, a cop gave me a warning and MADE ME GO HOME AND GET MY ID. It's total crap. DC is a mega police state. I've heard this before by others, that they get warnings / tickets and have been told they must carry id at all times.

I went to the police station and said, "Are we a police state now?" The cop said that it wasn't true, but word on the street is that it is.

Marissa said...

anon & ninja--

I hope when/if they finally got in, they started a classic pool-hall brawl. Especially the 60-year-old lady.


I understand and realize this debacle was completely brought on by my own retardulousness. But now that you said you don't usually card people who look under 25, my crow's feet and I are going to take this whole incident as a giant compliment.


Hmm...I think some areas of Boston are DC-like in their carding regimes (Allston comes to mind), but I never noticed anything overbearing in several other parts of town (particularly Somerville or Cambridge). Maybe I looked older two years ago???

metro man--

Each and every time though, I'm a little bit flattered...sad as that is.


Holy crap, is that true? I know in Russia we had to carry our "documenti" around everywhere we went because they'd stop you randomly on the street (especially if you don't look traditionally Slavic, privyet racism!), but I did not know they did that here. If so, I'm pretty sure that's 100 percent against the law. In fact, I know that's against the law.

maryjanejeff said...

Boylston Street is where that Rattelsnake Bar is. Allston has to be anal retentive about that stuff because of all the trust fund college drunks from BU, BC, et al (I know not all of them are). Cambridge and Somerville, where I lived for 2 great years, were better places to hang out for the most part.

Marissa said...


Yeah. Allston is a shithole. I lived there when I was 24 and felt like everyone's mom. Lots of 19-year-olds with McLovin-style IDs, for sure.

And totally agree about Cambridge and Somerville. I hung out a lot in Inman Square (which is also where I lived for a while) -- it was far enough away from undergrad Harvard/MIT/Tufts to weed most of the kids that make me feel old out.

maryjanejeff said...

Never hung out much in Inman, never got the chance to hang out in Union Square much either. But that's what happens when you lived a ten minute walk from Davis Square and a twenty minute walk from Porter Square. You were definitely far enough away from the schools where you were. Ironically I lived across the street from Tufts (or at least the athletic fields and a dorm?) for two years and barely saw students.

Where else did you live up there? I was pretty much in Somerville with a six month stop in Revere before moving to Colorado in may 2002. Now I'm here but you have me all nostalgic for Somerville and Cambridge now!

Marissa said...

I just lived in Allston then Cambridge. I was there from August 2004-October 2006.