Selling Wine To The Canadians

by admin on July 12, 2016

I was reading the Bad Business Etiquette archives and it brought to mind an incident which occurred a few years ago. I’m not entirely sure that this qualifies as an etiquette faux pas but I thought your readers would get a kick out of it anyway. At the time I was really irritated but in retrospect, I can’t stop laughing. The incredulity I felt hasn’t faded in these three intervening years though…

For a conference, I had traveled to a small city near D.C. with a population of around 25K. Not large by any means but not small enough to have no exposure to the world outside. Btw, I’m Canadian. After a lovely day wandering around D.C. I drove my rental car to my hotel and stopped at a humongous chain department store for some toiletries I’d forgotten. While there, I noticed with glee that there was a wine section (the sale of alcohol is strictly controlled by my province and other than a couple of small, sanctioned, pop-up shops in grocery stores, the only way to buy alcohol in the city is to go to the provincial stores). After a few happy moments of browsing, I decided to pick up a bottle to enjoy with my dinner because well, why not! I took my purchases to the register and as expected, I was asked for I.D.

I explained that I was Canadian and that I had my driver’s license but perhaps the cashier would prefer to see my passport. Though this varies from state to state, my license has frequently been accepted as I.D. for alcohol purchases, especially in states close to the border. The cashier looked confused, took my license, looked at it and told me she couldn’t accept it. Okay, no problem. Would she like to see my passport? The response? “Well I need to see some American I.D.” I explained again that I was visiting from Canada and since I wasn’t American, I didn’t have any American I.D. but I did have my passport. I pulled it out. She looked at it dubiously and again asked, “Is it American because I need to see some American I.D.” Up to this point, I had been extremely pleasant, asking how her day was, joking about my excitement at finding wine in the store but she was seriously beginning to try my patience. She was a older lady and may have had a slight mental handicap so I fought to maintain my politeness and asked her what she felt we should do…perhaps there was a manager available? I was beginning to consider just leaving the wine behind but by then, I had already mentally pictured myself enjoying a glass and I was loath to walk away without it.

The cashier stopped a passing manager and told him, “She wants to buy a bottle of wine but she doesn’t have any I.D.” Yet again I explained that I did have a Canadian driver’s license but I understood if they couldn’t accept that. I also had my passport. By then, I may have begun to speak faster out of frustration. I was still quite polite. Manager also looked uncertain and confused. Three years later, I forget exactly what he said but it was enough to make me lose my cool and say, “So what you’re telling me is that you cannot sell alcohol to Canadians? Fine, forget it…forget the wine.” Maybe because he could see I was visibly upset, he took my passport. He was flustered himself and instead of checking the photo page to confirm my identity and my age, he started flipping through the pages reserved for visas. I asked him what he was looking for, perhaps I could help him find it. Turns out he was looking for the entry stamp (confuses me to this day…did he think I was an illegal alien?!). I was so agitated by then that I confused the date and accidentally showed him a Mexican entry stamp I had received earlier that year (I guess I flipped the month and day). As I showed it, I realized my mistake but before I could correct myself, he looked at it, nodded and told the cashier to sell me the wine!!!!!!!!!! 0708-16

{ 152 comments… read them below or add one }

NostalgicGal July 12, 2016 at 7:23 am

I’ll give them both the benefit of the doubt and the fact the store may have been used to being ‘checked’ by someone going in undercover to see if they were carding properly or not.

In the mid 1970’s I was shopping at a place in Denver that should have been used to a high traffic of tourists, and coming from an area next to the Canadian border, our change was about half and half US and CDN, and gave the clerk a Canadian quarter to purchase a $7 plus item; and the clerk leaned over, handed me back the quarter and explained that he’d SEEN one before so he knew what it was, and he was sorry but he couldn’t take it. DC area is far enough away from the border that they may very well not be used to seeing or dealing with north of the border anything. If I was that clerk, I may have had to ask the manager if I could take a foreign ID, but I wouldn’t have flustered out like that clerk did. I would have checked the age, then have had to ask if I could take the ID.

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Calli Arcale July 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm

If you’re near DC, foreigners are not at all unusual. Never mind just people north of the border; you’ll see people from all over the world. Tourists, diplomats and their families, employees at the various embassies, foreign military representatives, employees of multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations, people traveling on international business….. There are more international travelers in the DC area than in Denver just because of the sheer volume of international business conducted there.

Sure, maybe they genuinely aren’t used to seeing Canadians on an everyday basis, at least not as much as in, for instance, Detroit or Buffalo. But the idea of foreigners actually buying things shouldn’t be such an alien concept. I’m guessing that you’re right about the carding concerns. They were likely worried about a sting operation, someone trying to fake them out with an ID they couldn’t as easily verify.

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Ripple July 12, 2016 at 7:25 am

Wow, now I’m confused as to why they were confused. I work as a cashier at a large chain department store near DC, and we do require seeing ID for anyone buying alcohol (beer or wine only in our store). But we accept any ID as long as it shows a picture and birth date. I’ve entered dates for any number of foreigners, and people up in their 80’s, no problem. The only “problem” I ever have is being sure I enter the date correctly, as most other nations list the day of birth before the month instead of month and then date as is done in the US.

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Vermin8 July 12, 2016 at 7:44 am

You’ve hit upon a pet peeve of mine – a customer service person speaking authoritatively when they don’t know what they are talking about. In this case it’s telling you that you had to have American ID when that’s not the case (unless your ID had no photo but the issue there is the photo, not the originating government and in that case, the passport would have been fine). Granted, in this case, if the woman was mentally challenged it’s not all her fault but I see this frequently. It is sad that so many clerks and customer service people would rather lie about policy than go get their supervisor (although in this case he was only a little bit more knowledgeable but he may have been confused by her saying you had no ID).

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JD July 12, 2016 at 8:05 am

Oh, I see, another drunken Canadian here to buy wine in the states for nefarious purposes. I’m kidding, of course.
I grew up in a town of less than 7000, hundreds of miles from any border (upper South, US) and a long, long way from a big city, and I even knew you could take foreign ID when I started working. In the DC area, I would imagine they see foreigners on a regular basis, as we do where I live now, in Florida. I can’t understand the store’s issue. If the clerk was unfamiliar with what proper Canadian ID was to look like, I could understand if she needed to ask the manager about that, but to try to refuse it because it wasn’t from the US? And the manager too? That’s funny — now. I’m sure it was very irritating when it happened!

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Amanda H. July 12, 2016 at 8:14 pm

This.

When I got my first job as a cashier, it was in the tiny farming town several hours’ drive from the Canadian border with NY. We pretty much NEVER saw anyone in our store who wasn’t from New York, let alone another country. And our training still included a lesson in what constituted a “government-issued ID” and that we could take foreign passports as valid ID as well.

This is why I frequently facepalm at stories on Not Always Working that are about cashiers in the US who have no clue that you can take passports, military ID, non-driver ID, and out-of-state driver’s licenses, not just the driver’s licenses issued within your own state.

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Startruck July 12, 2016 at 8:10 am

I laughed on, ” you can’t sell alcohol to Canadians?! Lol I don’t understand why they were confused. As long as you had your id with your birthdate on it I don’t see the problem.

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KarenK July 12, 2016 at 8:22 am

We were visiting my family back in Syracuse about 20 or so years ago, and the clerk at the grocery store was confused by our Maine IDs, let alone a Canadian ID. Every time we wanted to buy beer (and we bought a lot of beer – LOL!), they had to get the manager. We got to be quite friendly with him!

While foreign IDs might flummox some of the more central areas of the US, you’d think that in Washington, DC they’d be used to people from other countries.

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Carrie July 12, 2016 at 8:32 am

I was a cashier at Wal-Mart and took passport IDs every once in awhile for things like alcohol and cigarettes. If it was as big of a store as you say, the cashier and the manager should have been trained on what was acceptable ID. This was the result of poor training and I would have written an email to the corporate office.

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Anna July 12, 2016 at 8:37 am

Some stores in some places have a policy of accepting only in-state IDs. Purchasing alcohol is considered a privilege, not a right, so they can refuse to sell to whomever they please. I think they do it in places where there may be a low level of cashier training and a high level of underage people trying to buy, and also a high level of fines and enforcement for stores.

They weren’t trying to be rude, but they should have explained the policy more clearly. I’ve seen stores that have a big sign on the front “IN-STATE ID REQUIRED” and such.

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DanaJ July 12, 2016 at 3:13 pm

This used to be standard in Massachusetts. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but when I was there in 2013 by law they could only accept Massachusetts ID (like drivers licence) or a passport if you were from out of state. It’s something nonsensical like if a business sells alcohol to a minor who had fake MA licence, the business would not gt in trouble, but they would face a penalty if it was an out-of-state ID. I’m not familiar with their liquor laws, but there’s something about it here: http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/10/alcohol_sellers_want_cover_to.html

I assume some other states have comparable statutes.

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LadyV July 13, 2016 at 8:11 am

DanaJ: that sounds insane to me. So if a person does a lot of travelling in the US, but never goes out of the country and doesn’t need a passport, she can’t buy alcohol if she’s visiting Boston?

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NostalgicGal July 13, 2016 at 2:15 pm

I have a Canadian friend who is also an MP and goes to Boston a few times a year for various things. He said either they don’t have an issue with his Canadian driver’s license, or totally freak off and he offers his other credentials and they either quickly capitulate or totally finish flipping out. Most of the time though, he says he has had no issues with purchasing alcohol if he so chooses to stateside. He also makes sure he purges his billfold of Canadian money when he crosses border, and carries only American money, cash, which helps. Or a major credit card that is prewarned and will be accepting US charges and pay in USD.

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Anna July 13, 2016 at 8:30 pm

I do live in MA, so it is likely my recollection of stores accepting only in state IDs is from MA. But I do think it is, at least right now, a store policy, rather than a law. So some stores may have this policy, and some don’t. I guess they figure that the few customers they may lose isn’t worth possibly getting fooled by an out-of-state license.

Amanda H. July 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm

In that case, it’s less that the law dictates the stores only take in-state ID, and more that the law won’t protect them if the out-of-state ID is fake, while it offers some coverage if an in-state one is fake.

I know I’ve heard of places in Boston accepting out-of-state IDs (did conventions there for several years, and got involved in discussions on the conventions’ forum about why it was a good idea for every convention attendee to have some form of ID, even if they didn’t drive, especially if they wanted to attend adults-only events or visit local bars or whatever).

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Livvy17 July 12, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Yes, my own story, similar to above was when I was at the local grocery store. I’d just come back from a trip, so I had my passport on me, but not my driver’s license. When I tried to buy a bottle of wine with some other items I was buying, I was refused, for not having a state ID. I argued long and hard, over how a US passport is federal, global ID, and should therefore trump a state driver’s license hands down, but to no avail. I was really steamed.

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NostalgicGal July 13, 2016 at 2:20 pm

I was once refused when I wanted to buy a cheap bottle of 3.2 beer to drown slugs with at a grocery store I frequented. I was a regular customer (large store, but still), and had a breakout of face because of an allergy, and was carrying a student ID because I was doing continuing education through where I worked (they paid for classes to compliment my employment). The clerk seen the student ID and refused. The manager finally gave my DL a third degree, decided the lamination wasn’t messed with and I was really 34, and let me buy the beer, aka after a half an hour of drama on their part.

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Amanda H. July 13, 2016 at 10:51 pm

I’d give them a pass on not accepting the student ID (regardless of whether or not they knew you). Student IDs aren’t generally government-issued, and rarely contain the same anti-forgery measures as the government IDs (and thus are more easily faked). Every store I’ve worked at trained the cashiers to not accept student ID for that very reason.

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NostalgicGal July 14, 2016 at 7:35 am

I didn’t offer the student ID, she seen it sticking out in the cardholder area of my billfold when I offered my DL as ID. She pointed to it and refused to sell me the beer. Even though the DL said I was 34. During the discussion when the manager finally showed up, I showed a CC with my name on it as confirming it was me. I did NOT offer the student ID, and finally they asked me why I had the ID and I told them where I worked and that I was taking Continuing Education classes for my job. Then the DL got the minute inspection and it was decided (they issued a laminated card) that the lam hadn’t been messed with and it was a genuine unadultered DL and authorized the sale. It didn’t help that the side effect of an allergic reaction had caused my face to break out so it made me appear younger than I was…

MPW1971 July 14, 2016 at 10:37 am

The “standard” in most places and countries is just like what you need now to board an airplane – government issued photo-ID. That can take several forms – in Canada you can use your passport, driver’s license, military ID, government-issued health card, and a photo ID card available for those who do not have (or can’t get) a driver’s license for purchase of things like alcohol. There are other items, but they all must be government issued.
A photo student card is proof of identity, and in rare cases, proof of age – my alma mater restricted access to students and alumni at some on-campus bars, and it was also used for proof of age, but only for on-campus bars. They could always ask for a DL or government ID as backup.
With 50 different state DLs, not to mention special rules (i.e. vertical driver’s license for those under 21), it’s hard to keep abreast of all the changes, but in this day and age, government ID is hard to fake and will have a certain professional look to it.

Amanda H. July 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm

@NostalgicGal, I see. I must have misconstrued your previous comment about the cashier seeing your student ID as you presenting it. My bad.

@MPW1971, that’s basically what I was taught. Driver’s licences, non-driver IDs, passports, and military IDs are all government-issued. Student ID’s are not and therefore no place of business I’ve ever worked at nor any that I shopped at would accept them, because they were frequently too easy to tamper with or outright fake. I don’t know if Obamacare involves government-issued health cards with the relevant information, so I don’t know if they would qualify.

stacey July 12, 2016 at 8:47 am

There’s no way in Hades that these folks are up to date on the training needed to sell alcohol. As an aside, “handicap” is best reserved for golf. A disability is hard to express because accepted terms are used as insults or in derogatory speech. Exceptional needs, or a specific term is preferable. In its absence, it can be speculation and not well received.

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Dee July 12, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Stacey – “Handicap” and “disability” are common terms in usage by both government and society; newer terms are brought forward all the time but they tend to be used more by those who are very familiar with the issues themselves. For the general public and the governments the terms “handicap” and “disability” are still the norm and are not derogatory. It doesn’t appear that the OP meant anything by the term but to give a possible reason for the bizarre behaviour on the part of the cashier.

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Lanes July 12, 2016 at 8:34 pm

I think that depends on where you live.
Where I live, the term “handicap” is frowned upon (although “handicapable” is ok if used in the right context); disabled is a much more socially-accepted term.

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Green123 July 13, 2016 at 2:24 am

I assume the posters above are American. The words ‘handicap’ or ‘handicapped’ are extremely offensive in the UK, and its use by people from outside the UK where it’s still in common parlance makes me cringe. Disabled is OK. Person with a disability is optimal.

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Tracy W July 15, 2016 at 3:01 am

I hate “person with a disability”. It puts the emphasis on the disability. Consider the difference between “the red-haired man” and “the man with red hair”. Or “Barrack Obama, President of the United States” with “the President of the United States, Barrack Obama!” In English, the order is adjective subject. Illogical English may be, but I’d rather be a subject and my dyspraxia the adjective than the other way around.

And don’t get me started on the wording of “dis-ability” versus “handicap” aka “you can’t do something” versus “you can, it’s just a bit harder”.

Of course you are free to describe yourself as a person with a disability, but please please please don’t try to insist your terminology is the right one in all cases.

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Louise July 13, 2016 at 4:32 am

I’m sure stacey is aware that the term is commonly used and not *intended* to cause offence – which is why she so politely suggested using a different term. I would agree with her that the word ‘handicap’ is so broad and suggestive that it can leave room for misinterpretation or offence.

I am surprised to hear that that word is used by the government in the US. In my country it is actually considered very old fashioned and impolite.

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Kate July 13, 2016 at 11:24 am

Both handicapped and disabled are widely used in the U.S., including by the disabled, they are considered the correct, non-offensive terms. I am not sure why Stacey thinks they are not. And as a point of fact, these terms are used specifically to avoid speculation. They are used for mental and physical issues. I have actually never heard the term “exceptional needs” in my life. I think Stacey must not be in the U.S.

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Dee July 13, 2016 at 11:36 am

Louise – I don’t know what terms the US gov’t uses; the OP, however, is Canadian, and the Canadian gov’t uses the term “disability” for most things in that field, i.e. disability payments. Schools use the term regularly; i.e. children diagnosed with an LD (Learning Disability). My children have the term in their varied diagnoses. Designated parking spaces are called “Handicapped parking”, and so on. They are terms in general usage by both society and gov’t and don’t raise any eyebrows; what terms would be used instead?

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Louise July 14, 2016 at 7:44 am

Hi Dee – I am British, and we just wouldn’t say ‘handicapped’, it would definitely raise eyebrows as being outdated/inappropriate. As Green123 says above, ‘disabled’ is more generally used, but the preferred term is ‘person with a disability’ or ‘people with disabilities’.

We would call designated parking spaces ‘disabled parking’ or ‘accessible parking’.

Tracy W July 15, 2016 at 3:07 am

Well, ‘disability’ isn’t broad. “The save option is disabled”. “The smoke alarms were disabled.”

Personally my objections to the word “disability” are based on the narrowness of the term. Is Stephen Hawkings really disabled? How many people show any signs of accomplishing half of what he’s done?

I don’t make much of a fuss about official terms mostly, but really, seriously think about the meanings of words before implying that a terminology is wrong.

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Tracy W July 15, 2016 at 2:51 am

I dislike disability. It implies “dis-able” and thus that I can’t do things. Handicap implies I can, it’s just a bit harder for me. That said, I use disability often for ease of communication, but I find it offensive when people are advised to use what is often a less accurate term.

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CdnGirl July 12, 2016 at 8:57 am

My mom was shopping in North Dakota once, in a city that gets a very high amount of Canadian weekenders. The US has not accepted foreign currency for quite some time, and we know this and exchange our money, leave all our Canadian change at home, anything we need to to ensure smooth transactions. This time however, my mother was using her credit card and had no problems using it in most stores. Except for one who would take her Canadian credit card because “We don’t accept foreign currency.” Which is not how credit cards work.

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Calli Arcale July 12, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Oh, that is funny! The clerk clearly didn’t understand that the store would be paid by the credit card company in US dollars. 😉

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Tabitha July 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm

I used to work at a large hotel chain gift shop in Ontario. We had a lot of American business people. So many that I sometimes thought I must be close to the border, although I wasn’t. The Americans generally loved buying Cuban cigars from the shop and weren’t any trouble until one man, a grown man, bought something, looked at his change with confusion and then held it out to me asking “what’s this?”

He was somehow under the impression that if he paid for something in American cash, he would receive American change in return. I explained that we were in Canada and used Canadian currency. I actually had to explain that I didn’t have a separate till that had American money in it. A grown man.

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NostalgicGal July 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Growing up in a US border town, we would have a heavy influx of Canadian visitors on the weekend, and the town would call the bank at opening time to get that day’s exchange rate. The grocery store had four tills, the fourth one was stocked only with Canadian money (at the time things like turkey, chicken, coffee, etc, was cheaper on our side of the border, said store would get a SEMI of turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas and set up a till and scale OUTSIDE at average daytime high of -20f and sell the entire load over about a week) and would be opened if we got a lot of visitors that day. So yes, we were all well versed in what the currency looked like. Most other places in town kept both in the same till, mostly just would accept Canadian and give change back in American unless they happened to have enough Canadian on hand.

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ADG July 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Oh, that brings back memories from my summers working in a touristy store on PEI. We would get a lot of American visitors. Several times a week I would have to explain to customers that I legally couldn’t give American change back when they paid in American dollars as the legal tender in Canada is Canadian dollars. More than once I’d get an irate reply along the lines of “Well, what am I supposed to do with THIS?” while looking at the Canadian money in disbelief. It was always on the tip of my tongue to say “Here’s a wild idea… Spend it!” Unfortunately, such a sarcastic response would probably have gotten me fired. Instead I’d direct them to the nearest bank. And then there were the ones who’d tell me off because they had to pay sales tax. Yeah, like an eighteen-year-old is responsible for that! But to be fair, I did find some of the most pleasant customers to chat with were the retired American folks!

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NostalgicGal July 13, 2016 at 2:28 pm

‘Point of Sale’ taxes. One major US city I would do shows in, it depended on where you were what taxes you had to collect. That city varied between 4.4 and 8.9 percent depending on where you were at. I had a more expensive ‘multi site’ sales tax license which meant I could sell anywhere in the state and had to make sure I knew what the rate was where I was selling, and remit in my quarterly accurately. People from a neighboring 4.4 region wandering into the higher region would always try to talk me out of the 8.9 and I told them if I charged my brick and mortar home address it would be 6.5, but I wasn’t standing there right now, it was RIGHT HERE and by law I have to collect what was due for this spot. So sorry, it’s 8.9% … sure I’ll make a house call to sell to them at their house, after the show is over, and it will cost $25 for mileage for me to come out to do that. Oh, um, right… paying the extra 9c suddenly didn’t seem like it was worth fighting over. (yes the sales tax permit was prominently displayed too, as required. The customer knew they were dealing with a real business not somebody’s ‘closet and trunk’ side concern…)

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Shalamar July 14, 2016 at 3:42 pm

That reminds me of when my British grandmother visited us in Canada. She was used to prices including the tax, so when she wanted to buy something that was, say, $4.99, she held out a $5 bill and expected change. Upon being told that it was $5.34 or whatever, she raised holy hell. When the poor cashier explained about the tax, Nana exclaimed “How RIDICULOUS!”

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NostalgicGal July 16, 2016 at 7:58 pm

You are NOT supposed to include the tax in posted prices but at some shows I’ve done that to save the hassle. I will write you a receipt if you wish, and I will write the price in at the lesser amount then add the tax to make it add up. The one place I did that to make life easy for customer and myself, $10.00 would not come out even so if I wrote a receipt I handed you back a penny, as it would come to $9.99 … We site remitted our taxes (and the site gave a by-line return and listed everything finked on the slip and remitted the taxes you paid up to the event organizers) and everyone was happy.

Cat July 12, 2016 at 9:00 am

It does strike me as funny too since they needed only to confirm your age, not your citizenship. It gave me an image of hoards of wild Canadians boozing it up while in their fair city and they feared a bottle of wine would set you all off. I would worry more about American frat boys than Canadians.

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LizaJane July 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

Hindsight is 20/20, but you offering “Canadian driver’s license” and your passport probably made things worse. If you’d shown your driver’s license, the clerk may have very well checked the picture and birth date without ever really noticing that it was Canadian.

All they have to be sure of is that the ID belongs to you and that you’re old enough to buy alcohol. They don’t have to worry about where you’re from.

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CaffeineKatie July 12, 2016 at 9:39 am

It’s all part of the plan–we won’t sell wine to Canadians until we get our own Timbits!!! We need Tim Hortons now!

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Ceredwin July 12, 2016 at 1:51 pm

There are actually quite a few Timmies in the US. Mostly border states

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Amanda H. July 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Yup. Saw several in both Connecticut and New York.

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Dyan July 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

hahah ok this made me laugh…and yes they are one of my favs

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o_gal July 13, 2016 at 6:29 am

Tim Hortons is in lots of US states now, thanks to the brief period of time when it wasn’t Canadian because it was bought by Wendy’s (and then sold to Burger King and the Brazilians.) There were many dual Wendy’s and Tim Hortons restaurants built back then, where they had their own counters but a shared dining area. I used to love teasing my Canadian friends that their beloved Tim’s was now owned by Ohioans 🙂

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Dee July 14, 2016 at 11:38 am

Hey, o_gal – we’ll gladly give you Tim’s! It’s an eastern establishment so in the west it’s a fairly new thing, rather foreign, like poutine. We don’t really identify it as being Canadian and the quality is quite inferior to other doughnut places, so it’s not exactly beloved, just convenient. I’d be really happy if it became an American icon and we could trade for one of those Trader Joe stores everyone keeps talking about. (And that last word never ever gets pronounced “aboot”.)

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AnaMaria July 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Oh yes, I will drive 30 minutes to do my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s! I did have a delicious doughnut at the Tim Horton’s we visited in Winnepeg, too, though!

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viviennebzb July 12, 2016 at 10:05 am

As an American, I’m embarrassed to read stories like this. There is a whole, big world outside the U.S.! Reminds me of the time my MIL (from Boston) was visiting us in Texas and we went to the store. Chatting with the cashier, it was mentioned that MIL was from New England. Cashier then asks, in all seriousness, “Oh, do they have the same money as we do there?”

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rubies July 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Try being from the great state of West Virginia. So many people think it doesn’t exist.

History lesson for all: West Virginia was once part of Virginia. When the eastern part of the state voted to secede to the Confederacy, the western part broke off, remained in the Union, was recognized as its own state at the height of the Civil War, and immediately outlawed slavery and opened free schools for whites and blacks.

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Casey July 12, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Seriously?

As a second grader, WV was one of my favorite states to remember when we were tested on identifying all the US States.

My little memory trick was that “I ate a Pineapple on the Virgin Islands” because to me, West Virginia was sort pineapple-shaped. Then I knew that “Regular Virginia” was nestled right below it.

Of course, when the nuns found out that I was using “smart-aleck nonsense tricks and playing around” instead of just memorizing and learning as I was told, the day didn’t end well… but that’s another story for a different day.

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rubies July 13, 2016 at 8:35 pm

That’s cool about the pineapple! And what the nuns punished you for is a recognized learning strategy these days.

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Vermin8 July 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm

I love the story told by a former coworker who is retired military and Puerto Rican. He had someone in one of his units (back when he was active duty) tell him he had to give them a copy of his green card.

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Asharah July 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Story on the BB, on thread Conversations That Make Your Brain Hurt, where a person born in Puerto Rico could not get a person at the U.S. State Department to understand that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and not a foreign country. I repeat, somebody working in the U.S. State Department.

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Anna July 13, 2016 at 8:28 am

My sister was born on a military base in Puerto Rico. When applying for a passport from the Department of State the person she was talking to was arguing with her that she was born out of country because she was born in Puerto Rico until she said that she had been born on the military base, then it was fine. *face palm*

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Dyan July 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm

hahah that is ok I am always asked if we have Christmas or snow year round….No No snow in Vancouver hahah

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NostalgicGal July 12, 2016 at 11:44 pm

New Mexico, a lot will comment about ‘isn’t that another country’? No, there is a large state in the United States called New Mexico. I’ve even heard of people dealing with Social Security and having them tell the person they would be having their checks stopped because they’re living in another country….!

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Anki July 14, 2016 at 8:50 am

I think this is probably part of the reason why license plates for New Mexico say “New Mexico, USA” on them. Not that a license plate on a car is necessarily going to help when you are on the telephone, but it is definitely acknowledging the regular confusion!

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klb4n6 July 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

A friend of mine was born in New Mexico but mainly raised in Arizona – in college she stopped telling people she had been born in NM because she had so many people tell her “Wow, your English is so good!” after she told them that.

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Anna July 12, 2016 at 10:29 am

This is so strange to me. I live near DC and we have so many foreign nationals in the area both visiting and living here that a passport as ID is fairly commonplace. Also military ID is fairly commonplace. Even “small” towns (a very relative term in this area) should be used to non-standard ID. But I once had my military ID denied in a store in northeastern Pennsylvania because it wasn’t a state issued ID. Still baffled how stores in Germany could figure out that it was valid ID, but stores in my own country couldn’t.

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Vermin8 July 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

I’m in the DC area also and that amused me. There is no shortage of people with something other than a standard driver’s license.

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Amanda H. July 12, 2016 at 9:21 pm

I’ve heard that the confusion can come from the phrase “state-issued ID.” Companies often use it where “state” means “the government,” but cashiers hear it and immediately latch onto “state” as in “this particular state I live in.” The store I first cashiered at made sure to use the term “government-issued” instead, for that very reason. Thus, driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs from other states, as well as passports and military IDs, were perfectly allowed, but the local college’s student ID card was not, even if it had a photo and birthdate.

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DGS July 12, 2016 at 10:39 am

I’m not sure why they were confused. A Canadian driver’s license should be perfectly acceptable, as long as it has a picture and a birth date.

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Wendy B July 12, 2016 at 10:42 am

I think you were dealing with the hopelessly clueless.

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Devin July 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

Being near DC, I’m kind of surprised. Since the woman was elderly, I’m less surprised as people in the US tend to travel abroad less than many other countries. This store may have had strict carding rules and one of them may have been not to accept an unfamiliar ID. In most states it is the discretion of the vendor to accept a form of ID because they can be fined or jailed for selling to a minor. This means even rejecting an ‘american’ ID if it doesnt look right to the clerk.
Instead of losing my cool, i would have left the wine. In a town of 25K there is more than one place to shop. Ascribing mental handicap to someone because they are unfamiliar with your ID is not kind at all.

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Politrix July 12, 2016 at 11:43 am

I could see this story being posted on a site like “Not Always Working,” and I imagine commenters (myself included) would say you were the rude one.
As stated above, cashier and store manger probably both were wary of undercover law enforcement and wanted to be sure they were following proper protocol. When the cashier asked if your passport was an “American ID” all you had to do was either say “Yes,” (it’s an internationally-recognized document, so of course it’s honored in the US) or simply assure them that it’s an acceptable form of ID. Instead, you threw out unnecessary details, made assumptions about the woman’s mental capabilities, started speaking faster and flip-flopped about how one minute you “understood” if they couldn’t accept your ID, the next minute accusing them of “not selling alcohol to Canadians.” They were understandably flustered and were trying to help you, but you did nothing to alleviate their confusion and I’m willing to bet you didn’t “maintain your politeness” as well as you claim. The whole tone of your post comes across to me as condescending and snotty towards anyone who doesn’t immediately give you what you want.

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Whaupwit July 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Wow… Was this someone close to you? It seems you have something invested here to read so much into OP’s intent. I did not read the interaction as rude on either side, unless expecting service and professionalism as a patron of a public establishment is rude – then shame on her. She should keep her transactions on her side of the border. By the way, what odds are you giving? I think I would take that bet.

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Politrix July 13, 2016 at 9:43 am

Or maybe you’re the OP? I simply read the post and that provided all the information I needed to decide the OP was snarky and condescending. Maybe the store had previously gotten burned by selling alcohol to a minor with a fake ID. They were probably hesitant to accept an unfamiliar ID, especially from someone who already indicated they might not accept it. Was it really necessary to brag about being from Canada before presenting your Canadian driver’s license? Really, who cares? Just show the ID; if they question it, then you can follow up with an explanation. I’m willing to bet had the OP done it that way, the “older” woman (nice ageist remark, there) who appeared to be “mentally handicapped” (what an interesting assumption) would probably have said, “Oh, OK then” and gone through with the transaction. Instead the OP threw out needless details about “I’m Canadian, you may or may not accept my dirver’s license, if you don’t I have a Canadian passport…” blah, blah, blah. She then lost her patience when the woman opted to check with her manager (because customer want wine! Now!) and snapped that she didn’t want the wine after all, were they refusing to sell wine to Canadians (nice sarcasm, there), etc, etc.
This is an etiquette website. If the OP thinks that snapping at service people and assuming they’re not processing a transaction involving an unfamiliar (to them) form of ID because they’re too stupid, then perhaps she should keep her transactions in her own neighborhood, rather than on “her side of the border.”

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Skaramouche July 14, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Dear Politrix, not everyone who disagrees with you is the OP. Good try but I’m the OP. Not sure what the massive chip on your shoulder is about but after reading your second post, I had to respond. I appreciate everyone who made comments as after all, it’s this exchange of ideas that makes the site so fun. I didn’t expect everyone to agree/side with me, in fact, some have provided some useful points I hadn’t previously considered. However, I certainly also didn’t expect this level of wilful misinterpretation. Did you read the whole thing through and attempt to understand it in a linear fashion?

First, a CANADIAN passport is not AMERICAN ID. I’m not going to pretend it is, even for the sake of a cashier. To do so is to insult the intelligence of the person in front of me. Funnily, didn’t you accuse me of doing just that? So in your opinion, it’s okay to treat people as if they are less intelligent by only providing the bare minimum of information (what if they can’t handle and process extra details and polite conversation, *shock*) but it’s not okay to suggest that there may be a problem where there might actually be one?

Second, “following proper protocol” is a kind way to put it. Let’s be really charitable and assume they thought I was try to bait them and was really an undercover agent. Shall we recap what actually happened? The manager sold me alcohol on the basis of a Mexican entry stamp without any attempt to check my age or identity even though there were two separate documents available for him to do just that.

To be very clear about this (lest you find another way to misinterpret what I’m saying), I don’t walk around announcing “GUESS WHAT, I’M CANADIAN” every time I am in your country. The remark was relevant in my situation for two reasons, 1) I had already stated that fact to the cashier because I found it cool that the store had alcohol as, in my home country, it’s a bit of a pain to drag yourself to the provincial store. This is polite conversation and where I’m from, this is okay and expected. 2) I was trying to be helpful by assisting with the identification of the strange ID (having already established the fact that I was foreign) and offering an alternative.

According to your narrative, I went straight from stating, “I’m Canadian, I have a Canadian driver’s license but I also have a Canadian passport, because you know, I’m Canadian” to losing my shit because the woman wanted to call her manager. Once again, I submit that your reading comprehension needs work.

>> assuming they’re not processing a transaction involving an unfamiliar (to them) form of ID because they’re too stupid
Again, this is funny to me because unlike you, I treated them as I would any other human being. You, on the other hand, are suggesting that 1) I gave too much info they couldn’t handle 2) I should just have pretended that there was nothing different about my ID in the hopes that they didn’t notice. Which of us is calling them stupid?

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Politrix July 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Wow, defensive much? I stand by everything I’ve written, and your follow-up post only confirms my initial suspicion. You could have simply provided your driver’s license without fanfare/explanation of where it’s from (because maybe not everyone gets as excited as you about a bottle of wine), and if it was declined as a form of ID, simply provided the alternative which was a passport.
Hi Skaramouche,
No one’s suggesting you purposely insult anyone’s intelligence. You could have simply said, “this is a Canadian passport, which is an internationally recognized form of identification, including the US,” if you were so inclined.
As someone who’s worked in the service industry longer than I’d care to remember, I’m saying that yes, you were rude — and you are more concerned about being snarky and proving yourself “intellectually superior” than your breach of etiquette towards two workers who were doing their best to assist you.
And not everyone who thinks you were rude lacks reading comprehension. 🙂

Skaramouche July 15, 2016 at 11:49 am

>> “this is a Canadian passport, which is an internationally recognized form of identification, including the US,”

If they weren’t already aware of the fact that a passport is internationally recognized (which they apparently weren’t), what makes you think they would just have taken my word for it? :P.

>> two workers who were doing their best to assist you.
In fact, they weren’t. They were sullen and apathetic. In retrospect, if they had been friendly and/or pleasant, this story likely wouldn’t even have made it here because the negative impact their incompetence had would have been outweighed by their pleasant demeanours.

>> As someone who’s worked in the service industry longer than I’d care to remember, I’m saying that yes, you were rude
As some who has also worked in that industry, I say that I wasn’t. Of the two of us, one person was actually a part of this incident and the other one wasn’t…

>> And not everyone who thinks you were rude lacks reading comprehension. ?
No, just you. That’s why you are the only one to whom I addressed that remark unlike you who called someone else the OP. No, still not making sense? Never mind…I give up :P. Good bye Politrix and good luck!

Kate July 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm

I agree.

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Kate July 13, 2016 at 11:26 am

I mean to say that I agree with Politrix.

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stacey July 13, 2016 at 12:26 am

Most people would be annoyed to be denied the simple purchase of a bottle of wine. If the OP had gotten frustrated and shown it, the reaction could hardly be considered out of line.

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Kate July 14, 2016 at 10:41 am

Wrong. It is rude and nasty to make remarks like the OP did to the cashier, who is simply trying to follow the law to the best of her abilities when faced with an unfamiliar ID. Some states, counties, towns, and even companies have different laws and policies about ID. Some require in-state, in-town, etc. ID’s. The cashier can’t help her unfamiliarity with the OP’s ID and to assume she is disabled and make sarcastic remarks because she didn’t process the transaction and called for a manager is extremely unkind.

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Lynette July 14, 2016 at 7:33 pm

I find it hard to believe that certain towns or states only sell to alcohol to residents of that town or state. It may be possible, but it sounds incredible.

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Goldie July 13, 2016 at 11:55 am

OP is a better person than I am, I probably would’ve lost it at “she doesn’t have any ID”.

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Kate July 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

The cashier probably meant “any ID I am familiar with”, “any American ID”, or “any ID I can accept”, but used the short hand, “for all practical intents and purposes, the OP doesn’t have ID”.

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Skaramouche July 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

Heh, Goldie. That was, in fact, my breaking point. However, I held it together because it wasn’t the manager’s fault and it was his first exposure to the situation. Too bad he didn’t have a clue how to handle it properly either…

@Kate: then she should have said what she meant. It is incredibly insulting to do what you can to be helpful in a situation (not to mention actually being in possession of proper ID) and hear something like this from the other party.

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Dee July 12, 2016 at 12:01 pm

I’ve heard many stories from those who work at the border about how frequently American visitors are confused by the fact that Canada is not just an extension of America or, conversely, why they don’t see a dramatic change in weather immediately upon exiting the customs line-up and entering Canada (no snow, for instance). So often there is confusion about the differences in currency, or how cheap the gas is (yes, but it’s in liters, not gallons, which then confuses the issue further). It’s a shame because most American visitors are not ignorant but the few that are cast such a shadow on them all. It is difficult to understand the reasons why this occurs but Canadians who vacation in the States are often quite frustrated at the lack of news available in American print and TV media, news that focusses on almost exclusively on American issues. It’s as if Americans only want to know what’s happening in, or to, the USA.

Rick Mercer has had a fair bit of fun with this over the years, doing interviews with American people on the streets. He manages to convince them of something ridiculous happening in Canada and then gets their reaction to the ludicrous issue. It’s entertaining to watch but sad that people wouldn’t be learned enough to know that the statements are so blatantly false. Interestingly, American friends and acquaintances seem to really enjoy Rick Mercer and Canadian TV and often choose Canadian media to get their information, decrying the state of their own media. Not that Canadian media is all that unbiased, but still it does report heavily on events that do not directly affect Canadians.

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NostalgicGal July 12, 2016 at 8:16 pm

My spouse was from the south part of the state, and a few years after we were married went on a vacation on the north shore of Lake Superior (we had a fun week) and he had never been to Canada. We went across the border on Memorial Day and I wanted to hide when he assumed they had a holiday on the same day. I had an explanation at the gas station five miles away about that, as he’d confused someone when asking about if anything was going to be open because it was a holiday… I translated metric for him (temperature, gasoline sold in liters, and kilometers) as we went. (no the gas seemed cheap because they sold it by the liter, we were NOT going to fill up at this pump, just put some in to cover until we went the other way again, and yes that is actually what they were charging for a ‘gallon’.)

As for news and current TV, our local US stations were notoriously cheap (on air days) and if you wanted decent run you would put an attic antenna and point at the repeater station over the border to get a lot of stuff on first pass that would never be picked up by the local stations as it cost too much. IF if was socked in (cloud cover) to the repeater station you got pretty good reception. Ah the good old days.

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AthenaC July 12, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I’m not surprised you had this issue. People get weird when it comes to unfamiliar ID’s.

We used to live in Alaska but visit family and friends in the Midwest from time to time. If we went to dinner and ordered a drink, we would present our Alaska driver’s licenses for ID, and about two-thirds of the time it caused the server to be startled, then confused, then ask, “Don’t you have an Illinois license?” No, we don’t live here – we have licenses from the state in which we live. “I’m sorry – I don’t know if we can accept this ID. Let me go talk to my manager.”

???

Similar to you, my thought was, “What – do they only serve alcohol to Illinois residents?”

Invariably (thankfully), the manager would recognize that Alaska is part of the US and that an Alaska driver’s license ought to count for an ID.

I never understood this – I used to work retail and had to ask for ID for ALL credit card purchases. I saw all sorts of ID from different states and even some passports. It’s just part of the deal when ID is required.

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EchoGirl July 12, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Part of the issue I think is the question of fakes. My father tended bar at a local music festival for a few years, and he said that that a common trick of people trying to slip a fake past the bartenders was to fake up an ID from a totally different part of the country, in hopes that the bartenders wouldn’t spot it as a fake. (Unfortunately for the scammers and fortunately for the bartenders, most of them were really bad fakes.) With local IDs, bartenders and servers usually know what the genuine version looks like; when it’s from somewhere else entirely, they may not. That said, there’s probably a nicer way to get things cleared up.

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EchoGirl July 12, 2016 at 6:24 pm

That said, it is strange that people would ask if you have an ID from that state after you show them one from another state…you’re not allowed to have a state ID or DL from more than one state at a time.

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AthenaC July 13, 2016 at 8:36 am

Unless you “lose” your old one when you move. I didn’t do this, but I did lose my AK license a few years back and had to go get a new one. Wouldn’t you know, I found my old license two weeks later, so now I have an extra copy of an AK license. It’s a very pretty design with a picture of Denali on it, so I’m glad I have it.

Also, I get the concern over fakes, but do we really want to live in a country where we force everyone to be so local to relax and enjoy themselves? I really hope not. A valid ID is a valid ID, whether it’s in-state or not.

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Honeybee42 July 13, 2016 at 7:34 am

On the other hand, when I worked at a grocery in NYS (which did sell alcohol), we had a book at the front desk (the front end manager, so central to all registers), and it had pictures of the drivers’ license issued by every state and Canadian province, and notes regarding particular details to check for, along with things like the military id, and other non-driver id that we could accept. My understanding was that such a book was common issue for places selling alcohol so that they *could* verify non-local id’s.

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Amanda H. July 13, 2016 at 11:09 pm

We had one of those too, at the Walmart where I worked in NY.

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NostalgicGal July 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

One fellow was a big dude and worked at an upscale club that had a cover charge and checked ID’s at the door. The bouncer needed to step away so asked the fellow to tend the door for a bit. On the side the guy’s second job was doing astrology charts for extra $, and. When the bouncer came back he had a huge pile of confiscated fake ID’s… he would ask the person what their sign was. Most of the ones with fake ID’s had a different birthday of course and astrological sign and the person would reply with the one that corresponded to their real birthday. Hence he had a big handful of confiscated ID’s.

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AthenaC July 18, 2016 at 7:49 am

That is awesome!!

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Becca July 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Some places do require “in state ID” because then everyone is trained on the state issued ID. If you accept ID from other states or countries, it’s far easier to be tricked by a fake one. It’s a large risk to sell alcohol to anyone because of the strict regulations and sting operations to catch businesses selling to minors.

Please note that at least here, if a clerk sells to a minor, they’re in deep with the law not just the store. That’s why some clerks will always be much more strict than others who are willing to take more risks.

I know why it’s confusing but it’s better to just not press an issue in this case. Think of it as silly and go to the next store.

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Auntbee81 July 12, 2016 at 1:01 pm

My own similar (but equally bizarre experience) occurred more than 25 years ago. I was living in a Large Capital City in the South. My license indicated this, and matched my other ID. I am visiting my mother in a nearby town (20 miles), next town over. Mom asked me to pick up a couple of items for our day at the lake.

I find the items, it is a small grocery store (think IGA) and not a chain. I wrote out a check. The cashier looked at the address and my DL, then said “I’m sorry, we don’t accept “out of town” checks. You have to have a local ID”. My husband was waiting in the car, and had $$$ with him. I returned with cash and purchased the items. Out of town? Really???? To me, that would not mean “the next town over, in a different county”. I rarely frequented that place afterwards, and was not unhappy when they closed a short time later.

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Kate July 12, 2016 at 6:07 pm

The clerk was correct. “Out of town” means just that. Your interpretation would be “out of county”.

It is strange to think of, but there are boundaries for towns, cities, etc, just like there are for states and countries. “Hamlet”, “village”, “town”, and “city” are also technical terms, the differences are mainly based on size requirements I think.

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NostalgicGal July 12, 2016 at 11:50 pm

We have one place in town that will accept a check only if drawn on the two local banks. Period. Else it has to be plastic or cash. They had too many issues with even regional banks so they narrowed it. They clearly posted the policy. Each business can choose what payments they will accept.

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MsDani313 July 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm

A few years ago I was flying domestically and tried to use my passport to board the flight. The airline agent asked for my driver’s license. I told her I didn’t have it. ( It was confiscated the week prior due to a speeding ticket) She told me I couldn’t use my passport because I wasn’t flying internationally. I encouraged her to seek her supervisor as passports allow you to fly…they are not just for international flights.

Recently I was out to dinner with a friend and our server insisted that she needed a driver’s license to serve us alcohol. My friend has never had a driver’s license. The server refused to accept her state ID.

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klb4n6 July 18, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Regarding the state ID – a friend of mine was denied entrance to a club when we were in college, because she only had a state ID and not a driver’s license. She didn’t know how to drive at the time. We were in Washington DC and the ID was from Hawaii – the bouncer accused her of having a fake so she didn’t go in and the group left.

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Outdoor Girl July 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm

I used my Ontario Driver’s License in California with no issues, except I had to show him where the date was on it so he could verify my age. I was 38 at the time; I almost kissed him. 😀

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Tracy W July 12, 2016 at 3:01 pm

I’m a bit lost, what was all the agitation over? Yes, the cashier was a bit daft but you do run into that from time to time in life.

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b-rock July 12, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I was once refused beer with dinner at a chain restaurant in TX because I only had my AR driver’s license. I was in the middle of driving a few days across country, we had stopped for the night, and I was so mad! They said we had to have Texas ID in order to buy any alcohol. This was about 13-14 years ago. I’m sure they were mistaken, but there was no way to change their minds. The store across the street imposed no such limitations, and took our IDs without question.

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SebbyGrrl July 12, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Has anyone tried to use a traveler’s check in the U.S. lately?

I had approx. $200.00 american (American Express, bank issued) travelor’s checks.

I tried to use them at a business where I am the business manager.

The cashier didn’t know me.

So I give them over with my Calif. ID (showing my local address).

“I don’t know what this is, this isn’t money.” She said, barely paying attention.

Ah, a fine moment to teach our cashier something that was obviously missed in her training.

“Actually, those a traveler’s checks, in U.S. currency, issued and bank here in town. If you want to call them to verify that might help.”

“No, this isn’t money.”

“It is money, it is considered currency, as long as the date and amount are correct and my name matches my ID.”

“This isn’t money, we don’t take that whatever it is.”

I was trying to decide how to handle it – as a customer only and help her find her way through the process. But she refused to contact the bank. “We don’t do that.”

Just as I was ready to really get mad one of the owner’s walked in, “Hello Business Manager, what brings you in today? Is everything all right?”

Apparently, no one has trained this cashier in proper cash and currency handling.

Guess who got to spend a few whole days working directly for me and getting ‘properly trained’?

Thing was, she was one of those people who just made broad untrue statements because that’s how she thought it was done, even as I was training her.

It wasn’t a special snowflake thing – she literally believed that if she didn’t think a given thing was true or correct, it wasn’t.

Lately I’ve been using my passport as ID. I am a veteran, when I showed it to the check in clerk for an appointment she said “That’s not a CA ID, I can’t take it.” OMG! A federal employee is not familier with federal ID? wtw!?

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Willynilly July 13, 2016 at 9:33 am

I am 40, born, raised and employed in NYC. I have never in my life seen a travelers check. I have heard of them, so if I were a cashier (which I have been in my life), I would call a higher manager (in my cases, the owner) to consult if presented with one. But even when I was a manager (in my career I have managed a deli, a bar, a clothing store and a vitamin shop) I was never trained regarding travelers checks. My instinct would be to not accept them.

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NostalgicGal July 13, 2016 at 3:04 pm

So many were forged in the past decade or so and used in various scams that a lot of places will no longer accept travelers checks, period. In the 1980’s and early 90’s spouse and I used them a lot for travel, then came the era where they got abused very badly and now we use plastic (credit cards). I noticed in the same time frame that banks took down the displays touting travelers checks also. I’m not sure my local bank would even issue them any more.

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NostalgicGal July 13, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Thinking back, the last time either of us used travelers checks was early 1994. Not long after that started all the rampant fraud and forgeries era and their use swiftly declined.

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Amanda H. July 13, 2016 at 11:15 pm

It might be business-dependent. I know when I was taking the computer-based training at Walmart (both stores I worked at, in two different states), there was a module that covered traveler’s checks. I never encountered any while working, but I at least knew enough to call a manager to help out if someone showed up with them.

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ddwwylm July 13, 2016 at 6:13 pm

I think the last time I used a travelers check was in the late 80s to early 90s. It used to be just what you did when traveling internationally. That changed around about the early 2000s or so. I distinctly remember being discouraged from getting travelers checks as apparently they were not being readily accepted anymore as in years past.

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Just4Kicks July 14, 2016 at 2:52 pm

After my husband and I took a trip to Mexico many years ago, we don’t use travelers checks anymore.
People either looked at them like we were trying to pass off “Monopoly” money as the real thing, or were just plain confused as to how to handle them.
My husband lost his cool after a 20 minute “showdown” with a waitress, who we finally asked (nicely) to PLEASE go get her manager for us, as our group was about a bus for sightseeing after breakfast.
The manager was equally confused, just turning over the $50.00 check in his hand and looking befuddled.
My husband finally said “it’s like I handed you a fifty dollar bill…YOU give us the change!”
The manager said “uh….I don’t think it works that way!”
Yes! Yes, it does!

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Just4Kicks July 14, 2016 at 2:53 pm

…..about to board a bus for sight seeing…..that should say…..Oops.

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Shalamar July 14, 2016 at 3:48 pm

The last time I used a traveler’s cheque was in the 70’s. I was a teenager and didn’t have a credit card or anything like that – when I went on a school trip to Montreal, that was what I needed to use for money. I asked a cashier at a store if she could cash it for me; she said “Not unless you buy something.” Not sure why – maybe they had to pay a fee? Anyway, I bought the very cheapest thing I could find (a belt which promptly fell apart a few days later).

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NostalgicGal July 15, 2016 at 2:14 pm

A lot of places do that. They will exchange money, break a large bill, or would cash a traveler’s check, IF you were a customer. Some service stations (gas stations) would only give you the key to the restroom if you were a paying customer. When driving long ways, I almost always needed some caffeine so I would buy a beverage, or at least a roll of lifesavers, and thus become a customer. It does cost to have that service (the rest room or the person’s time to run the transaction) and I can understand the business wanting to get something for it in return. I visited San Francisco a few years ago and ALL the restaurants I went near, had the restrooms hidden and would only tell you where they were if you became a customer. (the tourist traffic was so high in those areas, I understood that too–but one place we told the door busker we wanted a table, but also wanted to know where the restrooms were (without pausing or looking at us they directed us to the nearby park public restroom, so we went elsewhere to eat-we did ask for a table first).

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Baglady July 12, 2016 at 8:50 pm

I live in upstate New York and used to work for a regional convenience store chain that sold alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. Our policy at the time was card anyone who looked under 27 (weird, I know — why 27 and not 30?). We were also not allowed to accept any ID that was not issued by the U.S. or a state government. Ohio driver’s license? No problem. We had a booklet behind the counter with pictures of all the state driver’s licenses, so we could check if an ID looked suspicious. Driver licenses, DMV-issued non-driver IDs, military IDs and U.S. passports were all acceptable. I probably would have let a Canadian passport slide if the person was obviously of age.

The only time I was handed a foreign ID was by a Mexican fellow. This is apple country, and some of the orchards employ foreign seasonal workers. Technically I wasn’t supposed to accept it, but technically I didn’t have to ask for it, since the gentleman was well into his 30s. (I erred on the side of caution because I can be a poor judge of age, especially with people of other ethnicities.)

Stores around here vary wildly. Some require ID from anyone who looks under 30. For others it’s under 40 or under 50. Still others card everyone, and some not only card everyone but *scan* everyone’s ID instead of just looking at it.

I can’t decide if it makes no sense or a whole lot of sense for a store in a place like D.C. to refuse foreign IDs. On the one hand, they get a lot of customers from other countries who don’t have U.S. IDs. On the other, if they”re dealing with lots of different foreign IDs all the time, it would be easier for a fake one to get past them.

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NostalgicGal July 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm

A friend had a part time job selling beer at an arena during concerts and sporting events. They had a policy of carding under 40 and she was told ‘card everyone anyways’ and had a sting come through with a fellow she said looked upper 50’s and gave her a very hard time over she wanted his ID first. He did show it, she sold the beer, and later the manager came by and said congratulations that was the undercover agent.

I am used to going into a big box home improvement center and offering my DL automatically if I want to buy cans of spraypaint. The register usually requires that the clerk key that they checked ID and I save them the hassle (though I have enough gray and ‘mileage lines’ that I don’t need to anymore, it’s obvious I’m not a minor). Same if you buy tobacco, they card that one pretty hard most areas because of the stings and the fines if they do not check ID’s.

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Devin July 14, 2016 at 10:29 am

The places that scanned were always perplexed by my Missouri ID (full time students dont have to transfer their DL if going to college out of state). Missouri has a barcode and not a magnetic strip, so they dont scan. Most places in New Orleans were familiar with out of state IDs since its such a tourist town that it usually wasnt a problem still.
I know a lot of people now carry their passports when they travel since some states IDs aren’t secure enough to use for airline travel.

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Joanne July 12, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Similar experience a LONG time ago…I was re-subscribing to a US magazine, and as usual sent in an International Postal order in US funds. Got a very snarky handwritten note in return (along with my money order) stating that I had to send a cheque drawn on a US bank. I wrote back explaining that I was a Canadian in Canada and did not have a US bank account, but that IPOs in US funds were stated as acceptable forms of payment according to the magazine. Sent this and the money order back. Got it back a couple of weeks later with a hand written note in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS stating that it had to be from a US bank. I phoned the magazine and they swore that if I sent it in again, it would be accepted. I sent it back yet again, and though they did accept it, they screwed up my subscription so I only got every other issue (but I got two copies of it!). So after that I just gave up. Still shake my head over this one.

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Ant July 13, 2016 at 4:14 am

I really can’t relate to this… I have only once visited my cousin in American whilst in my early 20s and annoyed him by not often getting “carded”. He was adamant beforehand that everyone gets asked for I.d everywhere. Which from what I’ve read is normally true. However, most Americans were so obsessed with my accent they forgot to ask. Even when they did they didn’t really seem to check the age properly. The slightly annoying bit was people asking me to say “Good day”, “That’s smashing” etc but the really annoying bit was being asked to say things like “cor blimey governor” which I’ve never said in my life before or since

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Cat July 13, 2016 at 9:53 am

It works both ways. I got on a coach in England and the driver, knowing I was an American, said, “Hi!” I replied, “Hi!”
He turned to the passengers and quipped, “See? As long as you greet them in their native tongue, they are perfectly friendly.” Cor blimey, governor, indeed.

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JD July 14, 2016 at 10:21 am

Then there was my friend, a sweet, gentlemanly man from the Deep South (east), who had to go through Vancouver on business. At his layover in the airport, he went to a counter and said, when asked what he wanted, “Yes, ma’am, may I have a cup of coffee?” He said the counter help went wild. They asked him to say it again, to talk more, to say something to this person who missed it, all the while carrying on about his soft, slow, southern accent. It seemed they loved it, and he wasn’t actually bothered by their asking him to speak over and over. He said he thought for a while that he would never get that cup of coffee, though.

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Shalamar July 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm

My dad, who’s from London, once called a business to ask a question. The receptionist said “Hold, please” – but she didn’t put him on hold properly. Therefore, he clearly heard her yell “YOU GUYS! COME HERE AND LISTEN TO THIS GUY! HE’S GOT SUCH A SEXY ACCENT!”

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Ant July 15, 2016 at 3:24 am

At first it was fun but I was there for 3 weeks so the novelty wore off. I’m not from London and aside from constantly being asked to “perform” was told that I didn’t sound “too posh, like most English people”. I think if I went back to the same areas (New England- flew in to Boston but went on a bit of a road trip) I’d probably get asked to say “winter is coming” until I died.

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NostalgicGal July 15, 2016 at 2:20 pm

The ones from around Dallas always have a nice sound 🙂

Here you have a large mix of just about every sort of ‘southern’ accent you can imagine. Being a whitebread northerner, I have ‘newscaster’s accent’ which means literally no accent. It took 9 years of living here to the point where I didn’t have to explain anymore about ‘I just SOUND northern, I really DO live here’. Also from places I’ve lived and worked, I can do ‘ebonics’ without trying, and the Canadian border PRO-ject and ‘eh’ sort of things really well, as well as a honeyed ‘y’all’. I can string all of those together and really mess with you…

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ALM July 13, 2016 at 7:45 am

Way back in the 90’s, one of the ‘Mart’ stores refused to take my check because I didn’t have a driver’s license. I had a learner’s permit from the same state, which WAS a photo ID and was issued by the same bureaucracy as issues the driver’s license, but was still refused. I was trying to buy perfectly normal items (probably clothes), not alcohol or anything restricted.

I never did end up getting the driver’s license and I now have a non-drivers state ID (again, issued by the same bureaucracy in my state as driver’s licenses, specifically to serve as an ID if you don’t drive). I haven’t had to use it anywhere to purchase alcohol or get into bars (since I don’t drink), but usually when I am asked if I have a driver’s license, I clearly state that “no, but I have a non-drivers ID issued by (bureaucracy)” and clerks usually don’t have a problem with it, although some still hem and haw as if I’m trying to pull a fast one. I can’t recall if I’ve ever needed a manager but I have worked as a cashier and can understand the frustration on both sides of this issue, For what cashiers are paid in this country, it seems unreasonable to make them responsible for verifying every possible ID, but on the other hand, it is not reasonable to only accept ID from the state the store is in.

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NostalgicGal July 19, 2016 at 12:58 pm

A few big box stores used to have ‘check cashing cards’ that they issued. I would get one and no matter what store I visited in what state, they would take the check unless they had listed ‘no out of state checks’… in the mid 1990’s I had like six cards, for various grocery, big box, and drug stores, just to make my life easier. I went to ‘universal plastic’ and pay app on my phone for most things now. No hassle and a few keystrokes on both sides and you’re done.

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wren July 13, 2016 at 8:19 am

On my honeymoon in California we were asked for ID at a restaurant so we showed our Nebraska drivers licenses. After examining them carefully and shining a flashlight through them to be sure they had not been altered, he asked incredulously, “Where are these licenses from?” We told him and I could be wrong but he looked like he thought he was the butt of a joke. We told him never mind and we left.

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Willynilly July 13, 2016 at 9:24 am

They might have just been hiding their lack of math skills; depending on the year Canadiam years were only worth .75 US years… right? 😉

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Dee July 14, 2016 at 12:26 am

And then divided by 10, not 12. Metric, you know …

And, just for practise, convert American gallons to Canadian gallons, then to liters, add the price of two Coffee Crisp chocolate bars rounded off to the nearest loony, dunk them in a bag of milk, then devour a whole pan of Nanaimo Bars while reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Or is that all just too much to ask?

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NostalgicGal July 14, 2016 at 7:44 am

Dee… Love It!

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swift July 13, 2016 at 11:53 am

Last year, my sister and I were visiting her daughter in Boston and were going to get some wine with our groceries. My sister, who is 70 and has retired to Panama, offered her Panamanian drivers license. This baffled the clerk. Somewhat understandable, and as we’re pretty easy going, I (in my 50s) offered my Minnesota drivers license. Nope. He was adamant that it had to be a Massachusetts ID or none.
We just let it go. There was wine at home, we were just getting something that looked interesting, and it wasn’t worth involving a manager. Especially since the clerk was already flustered. (I would have like to see his face when he followed up later with his manager, though…)

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swift July 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm

I hadn’t read the whole thread – apparently it is legit he’d only take Massachusetts licenses. It would have been nice if it had been posted or if he’d made it clear it was a state (commonwealth) law. It does seem a bit strange to me, though, considering all the tourism. They will take a passport, but who travels with that inside the US?

Oh, well. Learn something new everyday.

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Amanda H. July 14, 2016 at 1:26 pm

As someone posted upthread, it isn’t a law that they can only take Massachusetts IDs, it’s that if they take an out-of-state ID that turns out to be fake, they’ll get dinged, but if it’s an in-state ID that turns out fake, they get some protection from the consequences. So most businesses, it seems, will err on the side of caution and only accept in-state IDs.

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AS July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm

I was on student’s visa in the US, and I used to use my passport the first year before I got my US driver’s license. It always annoyed me that the people would to my visa page, rather than the first page. I never understood why, neither did I argue with them because it wasn’t worth arguing. I suppose they are told to see a US government id, and they don’t know what to do if the person had ids from a country the US doesn’t requite visa to visit.

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AM July 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm

I had a cashier in San Francisco almost refuse to sell me wine because he thought my ID was fake. He thought “New Hampshire” was a fictitious place. I got the manager who informed him that 1) it was a valid ID, and 2) NH is a state in the US.

When I lived in Canada, I had quite a few people ask me where my British accent was. I had a few conversations with people that went something like this:

Person: “Oh! You’re American. Which state are you from?”

Me: “New Hampshire”

Person: *puzzled* “I thought you said you were American…”

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Pixi July 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm

So, back in the mid nineties I worked for a Rite Aid in Brattlebor, VT. Our store sold beer and wine, and in addition to it we also had a State Run Liquor aisle. The sales for liquor were kept separate and had their own till. Did you know that you can order a booklet that shows the individual IDs for each state? That different states have different ways of identifying underage drivers?

So, anyway, we had placed an order for a new booklet because of all the recent changes in IDs from state to state. But in the time frame between when the order was placed and the booklet came in I had orders from the store manager to only accept Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts’ IDs. This was because those were the IDs we knew by site and could tell if we were getting a real ID or a fake. And we got seriously fined for selling to minors, and the government wasn’t above staging sting operations.

So I can totally understand not taking a foreign ID, if you have no way knowing if you were getting a legit passport or some fake cooked up on a computer and you know that if you take a fake one and get caught seizing to a minor you WILl be fired, then yeah I can totally see not taking that ID.

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Pixi July 14, 2016 at 10:45 am

Wow, I had some serious typos in that post. That should have been Brattleboro, VT. And selling to a minor not seizing.

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klb4n6 July 18, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Vermont-related – I still vividly remember when I was working in my hometown Blockbuster Video (in NC) during the summer of 1993. I was working there while home for the summer from college. One night a man came in with a Vermont driver’s license with no photo on it, to get a membership. We were all flummoxed, and I distinctly remember him telling us that only the DMV in Burlington (or possibly Montpelier?) had a machine to make driver’s licenses with photos. I think we had a book to look it up in or something, because we did give him a membership. But I had never seen a driver’s license with no photo!

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AnaMaria July 13, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Huh? I’ve been a waitress and cashier in Wisconsin (so lots of Canadians passing through) and we always took whatever ID they had. Also, if you’re old enough to be being sent on business trips abroad (especially to a big, confusing city like DC) AND rent a car…maybe you look a little young, but does it really take more than two people and two pieces of legal ID to prove that you’re over 21??

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Just4Kicks July 14, 2016 at 6:42 am

I don’t get carded for wine or cigarettes, but I DO get carded for cold medicine.
When my now 13 year old daughter was around two years old, she had a bad cold, and her doctor said I should just get over the counter child liquid flu medicine because it had fever reducer and cough medicine all in one.
I took the bottle to pay for it and the cashier asked for ID. I just chuckled.
She said “No ma’am, I’m serious…..I need to see your drivers license please.”
I said “you’re kidding….It’s liquid BABY medicine!!!”
I know people use cold pills to make meth, but I was buying liquid and one bottle, not 20.
She said “nope. I will get fired if I don’t check your ID.”
As I handed her my license I said “this is a new one….I don’t get carded for alcohol.”
She explained it was a new policy for all cold/flu/allergy meds, and said in a whisper “and a huge pain in the ass….but I have to do it to everyone now!”

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Amanda H. July 15, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I know there are some people who will drink cold medicine as a cheap way to get a buzz, but I didn’t know they were carding for it yet.

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NostalgicGal July 16, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Pseudophrene can be used to make meth. Last place I lived at cracked down on it as they had meth labs everywhere (and it contaminates stuff, it’s a special abatement similar to asbestos and takes serious remodeling – they had forced a few cheap motels out of business by doing that in the rooms). I moved here and they still sold it on the shelves, and a few years later meth moved in and they regulated it here too. So, yes, if you want pseudophrene (which if you have a serious sinuses stopped up cold is about the only thing that will do the job) you either have to go get a prescription, or are only allowed to buy 24 hours worth of it every day. And be carded every time.

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MPW1971 July 14, 2016 at 10:18 am

My very close friend was denied a purchase in Arizona in the first few weeks after moving there. What was he buying? Soda and potato chips.
He was out for lunch with his wife and they stopped in to buy some snacks. The store they stopped at is a multi-state chain “big box” store for alcohol sales. In addition to all manner of alcoholic beverages, they sell gift boxes, glasses, corkscrews, as well as “complementary products” – soda and snacks.
He was asked for ID. He showed his government-issued Canadian driver’s license. Not good enough. He did not have his passport. But the thing is that he wasn’t buying alcohol, but soda and chips, and if they suspected he was underage, he should have been escorted out of the store as soon as they saw him.
My friend was 32 at the time and looked 40, having been cursed with baldness. No amount of discussion with the cashier helped, and they gave up before a manager was involved.
The funny thing is that as a 40-year old with a full head of hair, I have *never* been asked for ID at that store, for whatever I was buying.

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Skaramouche July 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

It’s the OP!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment. Besides the stories themselves, the comments section is what makes this site so much fun! There were some funny stories and some of you pointed out things I hadn’t considered.

I wasn’t trying to be unkind by mentioning a possible “mental issue”. It was simply a reminder to myself to be extra patient. The more time I spent interacting with the woman, the more I felt something, albeit minor, may have been off. It’s like what I was saying wasn’t being processed and the capability to think critically simply wasn’t there. Regarding terminology, there’s no way to win this one :(. Handicap, disability…whatever word I use, I will offend someone, unfortunately. I have no way of knowing if there was some issue, much less the exact diagnosis (and so, correct terminology) so I was as respectfully vague as I could be. In all sincerity, no offence was meant.

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Annie July 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm

I took it that you were giving her the benefit of the doubt, and I thought it was kind of you. It would have been easy to assume that she just wasn’t interested in doing her job.

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ErindV July 15, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Your description of sharing your wonderment with the cashier regarding the ability to buy alcohol in a regular store vs. a special government authorized store made this Canadian smile! My husband and I were exclaiming about the exact same thing while we were in the states not too long ago. (for the record, Canadians are well aware of this difference *before* we witness it, but the novelty appears to be too strong for us to not comment on in the moment) The cashier looked at us in bewilderment when we described the way beer and liquor is sold in our home province and then asked if that meant we didn’t have any alcoholics in Canada! We assured her that we did, they just all had to go to the one type of store to buy their alcohol.

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Amanda H. July 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm

I’ve heard too many stories first-hand from people I know about cashiers who just get it into their head that a specific form of ID is all that will work and nothing else (even legit) is acceptable. They’re too focused on the “what” to reason out the “why,” like people who fixate on the exact wording of a rule without thinking about why that rule is in place. In some places, it’s a driver’s license only, because a coworker or manager told them “like a driver’s license” and that’s what they fixated on. I actually know people who were refused alcohol because they presented a non-driver ID or military ID rather than a DL, because they simply didn’t drive and never got one.

And frequently at these places with poor cashier training, the managers aren’t much better (where do you think the poor training comes from?). When it’s not, in fact, the managers’ fault, the cashier just tends to be daft or one who fixates on something, *Maybe* a bit slow, but not to the level of mental handicap but rather someone who picks things up slower or doesn’t process information as fast as others.

I think you did fine in the situation. I understand getting flustered in the heat of the situation and I would’ve been too, and I do talk faster when I’m flustered. It’s frustrating when people won’t listen for two seconds to what you’re actually saying, and especially frustrating when the person you’ve been dealing with tells their supervisor you don’t have something just because it isn’t what they were expecting. I’ve had to deal with that before, with someone at a school health office claiming I didn’t have certain health-related information about my children when I did, it was just on a paper they weren’t used to seeing because it came from a different office. But the lady I was talking to still told her supervisor I didn’t have it and I had to reiterate that I did, right there, and point out the exact information I “didn’t have.” At least in that case, the supervisor realized the situation and did not make me go get another copy printed out in the format the clueless lady was more familiar with.

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Politrix July 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Ugh, meant to delete the top of my post before the greeting… no matter, I’m pretty much done with this discussion anyway.

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Shalamar July 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

My husband matured fairly early and had a full beard by the time he was 14. His friend, on the other hand – who was the same age – had a baby face. They decided to go to the movies one afternoon. The ticket seller said “Sir, this movie might not be suitable for your son.” Trying very hard not to laugh, Husband said “That’s fine.” His friend exclaimed loudly “Gee, Dad, it sure is swell of you to take me to the movies! Can I have a soda pop and some popcorn, Dad?” Husband: “Shut up.”

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Amanda H. July 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm

I had a couple classmates at my school who had full beards before they were old enough to drive. They could’ve probably passed for adults at the movies too.

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NostalgicGal July 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Love it!!!!!

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Betsy July 14, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Dear Canadian,
First off, my apologies for the absolute cluelessness of the cashier and manager. Secondly, let me tell you that I work at a museum close to the American/USA border. As an American I see many a Canadian tourist and school group coming through to see our museum. I have to admit, you should be schooling your American neighbors on manners. I would rather deal with a 9th grade group of Canadian school boys or the older Canadian tourist who we accidentally overcharged, than one of my own citizens. Best neighbors ever to boot! Thanks, friends.

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Kate July 16, 2016 at 5:57 am

This must have been very frustrating. I had no issues travelling in the US as an Australian, using my Aussie passport as ID to purchase alcohol.

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Sarah Jane July 16, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Reminds me of the person years ago who reported a similar experience trying to buy tickets to events at the Atlanta Olympics. The phone representative asked her where she was from, she said, “New Mexico,” and she was transferred to the “international tickets” queue. Once she figured out what had happened, she explained to the new phone rep, “No, actually I do need domestic ticketing, I’m from *New Mexico*.” And he said, “Ma’am, it doesn’t matter what part of Mexico you’re from, it’s still international…”

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NostalgicGal July 17, 2016 at 11:44 am

I am ‘disabled’ in that I have had accidents and health issues that have had lasting and permanent effects-things don’t work as advertised or I’m not at 100%. I am ‘handicapped’ as in I have to deal with those issues, and in most cases you can’t tell casually that the issues exist. Because I’ve had years of learning to cope with them. Example, I have serious nerve damage in one hand, especially the first finger, and it shows if I try to use a pair of scissors, or cut with a rotary cutter, or score glass. It caused me to have to switch handedness. However, most will never see it, and I’m used to it (just one of several things). If asked if I’m disabled, I will say yes, if I am asked if I am handicapped, I will say yes. I have avoided getting a state or federal handicap designation, because-at the present I can cope and deal with the issues with minimal life changes, aid, or practice. My spouse is fully medically disabled, and also has another issue that made him partially (and eligible for some aid) before the full disability cropped up. He is handicapped and has to have things adapted for him to be able to live a ‘normal and full’ life. So it varies a lot. Stateside usually it is ‘handicapped’ which has many many different levels. I prefer though, the term, ‘HandicapABLE’ which means I still have a full and normal life.

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admin July 14, 2016 at 3:46 pm

As a person with a handicap and who uses a handicapped placard for my car, I’m more perturbed by “disabled” than I am “handicapped”. If we break down the meaning of each word, handicapped merely means being somewhat at a disadvantage than the average person. It means to hamper, impede, hinder, impair, obstruction, encumbrance, constraint, restriction. I can do nearly everything most people can do but I am hampered, constrained, impaired by how I do it or how long it takes me to do it. “Disabled” however, means to put out of action, to deactivate, defuse, disarm, to “dis able”. For me to be disabled means I can’t do it at all. I prefer to be handicapped.

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Skaramouche July 15, 2016 at 11:21 am

Thank you for putting into exact words what I could not. This was also my general thought process when I decided to use “handicap” rather than “disability” which is certainly more common in Canada.

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