That Fearful Demon Alcohol

This morning I went to buy some stuff downstairs. I came across some manchego, and decided it would be complemented very nicely by a cabernet from Washington State – a region I’ve heard much about but so far haven’t tasted.

Alas, the cashier pointed out that it wasn’t yet 11:00 (it was 10:30 or so) and he was therefore not permitted to sell me a bottle of wine on a Sunday morning. I asked if this regulation applied to the entire land of the free, or only in Chicago. It seems to be one of those quirky local rules I’ve learned it’s better not to ask too much about.

There’s a similar local law which makes sure that even after 11:00 on Sunday mornings “underage” adult cashiers are not permitted to touch a bottle of wine on the conveyor belt: they call for an older colleague to pick up the bottle, pass it over the scanner, and place it in the bag. That last step isn’t optional, either. I don’t need to carry my stuff very far and have on occasion successfully insisted on carrying a bottle without a paper bag, but it’s been a struggle so now I generally just let them have their way.

Drug regulation is hard to get right. It’s a confusing web of dilemmas and trade-offs. The Chicago pseudo-embargo on alcohol is obviously pointless (or is it? It’s hard to guess just what the inciters are trying to achieve), but at least it’s mildly amusing and doesn’t cause any harm aside from a bit of shopping inconvenience.

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