I would normally leave the whinings about Swedish ways to either Smek This! or to The Hairy Swede, but this time I just cannot help it as I’ve also experienced how the Swedes can really be such tight asses, as grandpa in the news below experienced.
It says, “Per-Eric, 77, was forced to show legitimation to be able to buy beer.”
And so it goes that grandpappy went to SystemBolaget (the state-owned store which has the monopoly to sell alcoholic beverages in Sweden) to buy himself a case of light beer. However when he was about to pay, the cashier asked him to provide a legitimation to prove that he is at least 20 years old. (Another weird rule: it is legal here to drink yourself silly in pubs and bars when you turn 18 but you need to wait until you’re 20 before you can buy your own booze in Systembolaget.)
Of course, our grandpappy was furious and refused to be insulted like that! The store manager came but also wanted to see his ID card. So Per-Eric just left and fortunately found another Systembolaget branch where the personnels apparently have more common sense, as he was able to get his light beer without having to prove that he is not a minor.
What happened to me was in another state-owned establishment, Apoteket, which has the monopoly of selling pharmaceuticals in Sweden. One early morning I dropped by a nearby Apoteket to buy some paracetamol. I reckoned I was the only customer so I decided not to take this little piece of paper with a number (a queue slip). I found the merchandise right away and proceeded to the cashier.
No one was there but a pharmacist sitting in a nearby table, reading some morning paper. I’m sure she must have noticed me standing there waiting. After a while, I called out and politely asked in Swedish if I may pay. Somehow irritated (maybe because I interrupted her reading the cartoons section of the paper), she retorted back that I should have taken a queue slip first before going to the cashier. Then I said, but there’s no queue here. And she said, it doesn’t matter, that’s how we do it here. So I said, Ok, shall I take one then? She didn’t reply back and just took my payment. I took my paracetamol, and as I went out of the store, I popped two tablets directly into my mouth as my headache suddenly got worse!
There’s a saying, “the law may be hard, but it is the law.” Yes I’m all for this. But sometimes when this strict following of what’s on the paper takes over someone’s head, I cannot help notice that common sense indeed is not so common at all.
Now, if you counter me by saying “So if your country is so good, why don’t you move back there.” Then, you just lost your case not only by showing that you have the argumentative capacity of a ten year old but also by proving the point that you are indeed a tight-ass for not being able to take some criticism.
As pointed out by Rakotozafy in the comments section, this incident happened in an ICA grocery store (grocery stores are allowed to sell alcohol beverages provided it does not exceed 3.5% v/v).
My sincere apologies to SystemBolaget for barking at the wrong tree in this one. (Though there are worse incidents in Systembolaget where adult people are refused alcohol just because they happened to be in the company of someone who cannot show proper legitimation. See this link (in Swedish).)
Thanks again, Rakotozafy!