Friday, March 21, 2008

Panic Buying

The first year I lived in Ireland, I learned about all sorts of interesting and bizarre little practises that you probably wouldn't stumble across as a tourist visiting for a couple of weeks. The one that amused me most had to do with alcohol. It is against the law to sell alcohol on Good Friday. I'm not a big consumer (in both senses of the word) of alcohol, so this is an issue that wouldn't even appear on my radar.

Except that I had to run to the shop to pick up a few things to cook dinner on Holy Thursday. The place was mobbed, which was unusual for a Thursday afternoon. Then I noticed that nearly everyone in line had multiple cases of beer. Was there a sale going on? No. This was a case of panic buying, pure and simple. With the pubs and off-licenses closed on Good Friday, everyone was stocking up. I smiled at the thought of anyone feeling that they had to lay in massive supplies of alcohol to cover one dry day.

Fast-forward three years, to my life in the Middle of Nowhere. I was doing the weekly shop yesterday, which was even more massive than usual given that we're having four friends over for the holiday weekend. Peter had added a bottle of 12-year old Jameson to the shopping list and I'd asked him about beer. "No, don't worry about it. We'll go into Macroom tomorrow and get beer."

Fair enough. I finished my normal round of shopping (Lidl, Dunnes, and the butcher), then went to the off-license for the Jameson. Only the off-license has apparently gone out of business. (How is that even possible? And how long have I not noticed that it's gone?) I remembered the off-license in the Super-Valu was fairly extensive, so off I went, found what I needed, and was about to pay up when the realisation hit me - tomorrow's Good Friday, Peter won't be able to buy beer.

Forty-eight bottles of beer, 2 bottles of wine, and 1 bottle of Baileys (with chocolate cups!) later, I realised that I'd become one of those mildly amusing panic-buyers. But I was powerless to stop it, the thought of running out of alcohol with a house full of guests was not something I could countenance. Finally, three years later, I understand the great Irish tradition of panic-buying massive quantities of alcohol on Holy Thursday.


At 21 March 2008 at 08:04, Blogger Babaloo said...

Ha ha, this is so funny. And there's only 2 days in the year when you can't get alcohol in Ireland, Christmas Day and Good Friday. And both times people get into a panic. I always found that very funny, too.
When you've got guests, though, it's a different story. You don't want to run out of anything. And probably most people do have guests for Easter and Christmas.
Hope you have a good weekend!

At 21 March 2008 at 11:23, Blogger laurie said...

funny. but don't they sell it in train stations that day? for travelers who "need" sustenance?

i think i've read stories in the irish times and elsewhere about how train stations are absolutely mobbed on good friday with people who buy tickets just to be allowed admittance to the pub.

so if worst comes to worst, you and peter could give that a go. how festive!

At 21 March 2008 at 13:44, Blogger Kaycie said...

In Oklahoma all liquor stores are closed on Sundays, voting days, and holidays. You can buy beer in the grocery, though, any day of the year.

I'm not a big drinker, so the only time it's a problem for me is if I want to cook with wine on a Sunday.

I can't imagine being able to buy liquor 363 days a year. That's amazing.

At 21 March 2008 at 16:00, Blogger Tiggerlane said...

I love it! You are so like me, it's not funny...even though it is amusing to think that the preparation is like buying mass quantities of water before a hurricane (I'd still rather have the beer). We live in a dry county, so we have to drive an hour and a half one way to get alcohol - I just sent someone with my list today!

At 21 March 2008 at 17:53, Blogger Sandy said...

That is funny. I live in a town where you can't buy beer on Sundays so Saturdays are always a HUGE beer buying day.

At 22 March 2008 at 03:24, Blogger Alison said...

very funny Ann!! enjoy your weekend with your guests!!

At 22 March 2008 at 06:37, Anonymous Primal Sneeze said...

The sale of alcohol used be banned on St. Patrick's Day too. The only place it was sold was at the Dog Show in the RDS (Dublin). (See Decal Lynch's article in the Indo)

There used be what was called holy hour on Sundays. All pubs and off-licenses had to close between 14:00 and 16:00. Yes, I know that's two hours. In Dublin city, the rule applied on all seven days.

A much older law was that you had to be a bona fide traveller in order to be served in an inn/pub/bar. To get around this, folks from one town would walk or cycle to the next.

For a nation stereotyped as heavy drinkers we sure had some strange laws on alcohol. And, as you pointed out, Ann, we still do.

At 22 March 2008 at 16:28, Blogger Sweet Irene said...

At Easter time, we have two days, on Sunday and Monday, when we can't buy anything at all, so on Friday and Saturday there is massive grocery shopping done, including buying alcohol.

Luckily, we have no guests coming, so for us it was fairly simple.

At 22 March 2008 at 23:00, Blogger Col said...

Until a couple of years ago, you could not buy alcohol at all on Sundays in Massachusetts, except in restaurants.

Now you can buy beer on Sundays in most towns, but the supermarkets are all closed on Thanksgiving, by law. Guess how I found out about that particular law?

At 23 March 2008 at 23:30, Blogger Career Guy said...

As far as I know, you still can't buy clothes in New Jersey on Sunday. Crazy Blue Laws. Used ot be you had to go to a "State Store" in Ohio to buy booze. Those establishments are gone now. Pathetic attempts to regulate alcohol sales only make it more desirable as forbidden fruit. The laws don't keep people from getting drunk and shooting each other no matter what day of the week it is. Anyway--don't mean to rant--I just think such laws are silly, and people get just as goofy in response.

At 24 March 2008 at 19:25, Blogger IamwhoIam said...

I'll tip my cup to you for that one.

At 24 March 2008 at 21:12, Blogger stwidgie said...

Wow, no more state stores in Ohio? (I actually have a cherished photo I took in Cincinnati of a drive-through car wash which had been converted into a drive-through beverage store. It may have just been for beer, but what a concept.)

In Indiana, no alcohol sales on Sunday. I turned 21 (legal drinking age) on a Sunday in Indiana. :^|

Until the 70s, a woman could not sit at the bar in Indiana. Something about discouraging prostitution.

My favorite is when an underage cashier at the supermarket has to summon someone over 21 to push the sale button on the cash register for them because you are buying alcohol in their line.

Hope your supply lasted you all Easter weekend, Anne!

At 25 March 2008 at 14:21, Blogger Bren said...

How funny! Growing up in Louisiana, you couldn't buy on Sunday so we always had panic buyers.

At 25 March 2008 at 15:41, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Do they also panic-buy at Christmas like they do in the UK?


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