Saturday, February 6, 2016

About a Beer (and the Absurd)

Last Friday night, as my family and our exchange student were returning home, we stopped at the local Walmart Neighborhood Market. I wanted to buy some bitters and cherries, Liao Sha wanted to buy toothpaste, and our exchange student needed some contact solution. While there, I decided to grab some cheap beer.

We arrived at the checkout line together. I was asked for ID, which I'm used to. The cashier than asked for Liao Sha's ID, which she provided. Our exchange student is underage (as you would expect of a high school student), so the cashier refused to sell me the beer. She even put it under the register, where I couldn't access it.

Eventually, the manager sold it to me without a problem. Yet, I left with an odd dissonance: In China, parents can send their kids to the neighborhood market to buy beer (or stronger). In the US, I couldn't buy it because not everyone I was with, someone who really could theoretically be my daughter, was 21. Isn't there a happy medium somewhere?

Two observations:
  1. Sin affects everyone. Breaking laws just because you want to is, in fact, sinful. If young people would simply be willing to follow the law, there would be no qualms about selling alcohol to a 37 year old man. If people did not buy alcohol for underaged young people, there also would have been nary a second thought about whether to sell the beer to me. As it is, because people are rebellious, others have to suffer.
  2. Broken community leads to distrust. In China, most people know their community shop people well. You know the corner grocery people, and they know you. You know their kids, and they know yours. People know one another. There's little danger of selling a 7-year-old a bottle of beer for his dad when the seller knows the child and the father. One way or another, the truth will come out quickly if it's not legit.
I expect Chinese society will become more restrictive in the future. In the US, I assume we'll continue to reside in absurdity.

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