As a matter of personal policy, the only people allowed to ask me for my driver’s license are the Police in the event of a traffic accident or traffic violation. Thankfully, I have not have many of those since my 20’s, and that was quite some time ago. If I need to open a bank account, I show them my passport, for a few reasons, the least of which is, my middle initial is not “A” – its R – and somehow that has been tagged to multiple accounts and Motor Vehicles refuses to adjust it with out numerous forms of ID including a birth certificate (I need proof that I was born at age 45?). So, driver’s license is just for that, to prove I am approved to be operating a car and not revoked due to numerous driving violations, citizenship and/or criminality, nor am I a terrorist or drug dealer using the car for illicit means.
So, yesterday I on my way home from appointments, I went to the new Joe Canal’s Liquor Store. Previously it was Bottle King. They boasted the same great discounted prices, without having to carry a loyalty card. Great, I always forget mine somewhere, I probably lost it, and now, I simply get the same price without having to present my card and/or having my alcohol consumption tracked. I know that if anyone were to track my alcohol purchases, it would probably seem like I own a bar or I am a raging alcoholic. Somewhere between the two is where the truth lies. I have a glass of wine with every meal. That would be about 2 bottles each week. However, if I find a bottle I really like, that same week, I will return to the store I bought that wine at and purchase as much as a case to either keep in storage for myself (as good wine at a reasonable price is becoming harder and harder to find as ever), or I plan to give one bottle at a time to clients and friends. So, its no shock that my monthly alcohol purchases are well over $2-300 depending on how many good bottles of wine I find at a fair price. I still have “archived” bottles of wine from nearly 10 years ago. They don’t go to waste, I buy, store them in a climate controlled appliance, and I drink or give them as gifts.
The bank/debit/credit card people would easily be able to document my purchases, and, being a “member” of at least two liquor outlets, they too can pull up my list of purchases and see what I am buying, how often and in what quantity. So, when this new place, Joe Canal asks me to join their loyalty club, I am a bit bewildered because the same exact guy nearly 2 weeks before told a customer in front of me in line that “its the same store, same place, different name and company, but you get the same low price as before”. So, when he asked if I want to fill out a card to become a “member” I am thinking – okay, maybe his original marketing/customer plan didn’t work out. And, before he even hands me the card, he says “I will need to see your driver’s license”. Immediately a red flag goes up. I have not been mistaken for the age of 20 since I was 31, and that was at least 15 years ago – simple math tells you I am in my late 40s. So I ask, “why do you need my license? I am over age 20.” And he basically tells me “thats the new policy, Shop-Rite across the street does it” and I tell him with conviction “no thank you. I am not interested, and if that is the new policy I will not be shopping here or in the Shop-Rite across the street. Enough of my personal information is being tracked at home, online, in public every time I drive on a toll road, every time I do a Google search, etc etc.”
Mind you, I am very laid back, I am so far detached from drama, you would think I don’t have a pulse. But when something like this gets my blood boiling, you know its not simple paranoia or government conspiracy nonsense. But in this case, why is a scan of my driver’s license required? I’ve never had a DWI or DUI ever, much less a speeding ticket or even a parking ticket since the previous century (December 1998 to be exact). So, why would a liquor store need to track my alcohol purchases when the bank debit/credit cards already know this? Then it strikes me, nearly as cold as a hard slap to the face when I least expected it: Private corporations are not obligated to give out personal client information to any government agency unless under subpeona and/or direct warrant. If they do arbitrarily, then this is simply a violation of the constitution an invasion of Civil Liberties. In another words, its a violation of my personal privacy. If I am drinking a gallon every day of wine, beer or hard liquor and I have no evidence of health problems or driving violations, why would this be anyone’s business but my own?
Then it dawns on me, the US Government has been exposed for its violations of privacy. Nothing new, especially after the wake of 9/11/2001 – however, now, this is taking it a step further. Me buying wine is not a threat to national security, unless the national security threat is my health and how it effects how I pay for someone else’s health insurance. Its clear: they cannot sequester my purchase history without reasonable legal concerns, so, they start making their own database. Now, through the scanning of my driver’s license, this gets sent to a database the local, state and federal governments can easily track. Paranoia? Please, for the life of me, please explain what other reason there is to scan my driver’s license every time I purchase liquor. If I have a Shop-Rite member/loyalty card, they KNOW what I am purchasing every week, so why NOW do they need to scan my license ONLY when I purchase wine? Again, please hit me over the head with the obvious reason I am overlooking and if I am missing it, but its clear in my mind, they are simply creating a new database based on my consumption of things which may not be healthy for me. I wonder if they are scanning the driver’s licenses of those purchasing more than 2 liters of soda per day? Are they scanning driver’s licenses of those who visit fast food restaurants more than once a week? The answer is obviously no. So, why are they tracking my purchases of wine?
So, until I get a valid explanation and a personal apology for the cashier at the Express Lane of Shop-Rite in Parsippany in NJ who pointed the scanner at me like a gun and said “I need your license”, I will not even park in their lot even to go to a nearby store in the same strip mall. Its interesting to note that the woman stood her ground and said “its not my policy, its Shop-Rite policy” and when I said “my license is in the car, I have to go get it” she told me they would hold my things at the courtesy counter and process my check out there. I told her no thank you, and she became more aggressive an arrogant as I exited the store as if I was someone with out cash to pay for the few items I had.
*UPDATE: August 22, 2014 – Today a friend of a friend was transferred to the Shop-Rite in West Caldwell from the Parsippany location. I told him I don’t shop there anymore and explained why. He told me as an employee he also must show his driver’s license when purchasing alcohol, wine or otherwise. He told me they do it because they want to see if you are a deadbeat dad, behind on alimony and/or have unpaid traffic violations. “It does not matter if you are 90 years old, they still must see your driver’s license”. Now while I am not a father and have had no driving violations in at least 10+ years, why should I be upset? I am upset because this is the government looking into how much wine I buy, how often, right down to the brand, size and how much I spent for it. Really? Wow. No thank you. I will no longer shop in stores like this – let them take hit financially to see how the government’s policies are effecting their business. Soon I will be buying everything mail order and/or making my own wine at home. Yes, it can be tracked, but they won’t need my license to deliver it to me, and companies will not share this information with the government unless they can somehow link it to terrorism. I don’t know of any terrorists that drink.
Now starts my personal blacklist of place I refuse to shop in, and a few old ones of those who have no ethical morals whatsoever. I literally will not walk on their sidewalk, I will cross the street, out of my way, because this is how strongly I feel about their practices: (those unrelated to this post are noted)
- Joe Canal, Rt. 46 East Parsippany NJ
- Shop-Rite, Rt. 46 West Parsippany NJ
- Bank of America (any location, anywhere) [Unrelated]*
- PNC Bank [Unrelated]*
- Hudson City Savings [Unrelated]*
- Wine Library Springfield NJ (overcharging $70 for Willett Bourbon)