Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Fear of Cashiers and Police Cars

I find these days that there are some ordinary day-to-day things that give me a huge thrill. Like waking up on Sunday mornings with a clear head, no guilt, and loads of energy. Like being able to do my belt up on the third notch. And like being able to go into any shop without fear of the cashier...

Until I started this blog I thought I was the only person in the world with Cashier Fear. In this, like many things, I quickly discovered that I was not alone.

I used to buy wine on rotation from several different shops because I was worried that the cashiers would clock how much I was buying and judge me.

There's a small Sainsbury Local near the children's school that I use quite a lot. I made me really, really cross that the same cashier seemed to be on duty whenever I went in. I would say to the children, really loudly, as I hauled my bottles of vino up to the till, "mustn't forget Daddy's wine!" or "Godfather Billy's coming for supper!" with an eye roll.

Needless to say, the children thought I'd gone slightly mad. They weren't wrong.

Every time I go into that shop now I get a buzz. I put my alcohol free beers on the counter and find myself, yet again, talking too loudly as I say "why is there an age restriction on these when they are alcohol free? Isn't that funny? It's not as if there's any alcohol in them! Ha ha!" Still acting like a mad lady.

I would love to know whether cashiers ever give a toss about who's buying what, and which of the Mums they serve are secret lushes. I suspect that the only person judging me was myself...

Another thing that gives me a vicarious thrill (I have to get my kicks somewhere these days) is police cars.

Now, I never thought I drove drunk. Whenever I got into my car I convinced myself that I was totally sober. Looking back, this can't have been the case.

If you drink a bottle of wine in the evening (10 units) it takes ten hours to leave your system. Given that I'd usually pass out before 10pm, I'd probably by ok to drive in the morning.

BUT,  if I'd gone out to a party mid week it was likely I'd have drunk up to 20 units and gone to bed at 1am. There is no way that by 8am I'd be under the limit.

Plus, towards the end of the dark drinking days I'd often have a glass or two of wine at lunch time. Then drive at 3pm. I felt totally fine - I had a very high tolerance by this point - but I'm sure the breathalyser would have said different.

People with alcohol problems are notoriously adept at convincing themselves that they are perfectly safe to drive. This is what killed my friend Juliet (see When the Wine Witch Wins). But, the giveaway that, in my heart of hearts, I knew I wasn't really okay to drive was my fear of police cars.

I loathed driving past police cars, at any time of day. And if a police car just happened to be driving behind me (bound to happen in central London) I'd be riddled with paranoia. Why are they following me? What have a done? Am I driving too fast? To slow? Weaving? Aarrggghhh!

But now I love driving past police cars! I wave at them like a lunatic (are you seeing a pattern here?). I'm desperate to be pulled over so that I can say "Oh no officer. Not me! I don't drink."

To read more about my first year sober, read my book The Sober Diaries. Click here (UK), or here (USA)

Love to you all,

SM x

Related post: 5 signs that you're a problem drinker


  1. I went through a checkpoint and got breathalyzed last year in Mexico. My Russian friend in the backseat kept saying, "Refuse to do it, they can't make you do it." (She has a problem with authority figures). I said, "Heck no, I've been waiting all my life for this." I think the police officer was quite taken aback by my enthusiasm.

  2. I had that little inner knowledge too. I hated having to drive anywhere in the morning near the end of my drinking. I was SO ANXIOUS I could barely drive. And forever afraid of being found out.

    I think cashier madness is a universal thing. And rotating stores. Everyone does it. Lol.

    See, we really are all the same!


  3. LOL, I worked in a liquor store for a short time - yes, the irony - and I can confirm that most cashiers couldn't care less, except if you are me, and comparing my drinking habits to everyone that comes in......

  4. It is funny how similar that sounds. I too constantly ask the cashiers at Sainsburys why my Kopparberg 0% sets off that annoying "Approval Required" alarm at the self service tills. "It's alcohol free" I proudly exclaim to them in a louder than normal voice, hoping that someone else might hear me. It is the closest I can comfortably get to shouting from the hilltops that I have given up alcohol!!! Lovely post SM x

    1. This is hilarious - I do this too!!x


  5. Too true SM! I used to spend a fortune at the supermarket, making it look like 1 bottle of wine was just part of a regular shop. I reckon that in addition to the wine I would spend about 25€ on "disguising groceries" plus the cost of the wine. Himself used to say he should just get half his pay sent direct to Del Haize. The shame!

  6. Funny because my hubs and I went into a liquor store yesterday, to buy AF beer for a friend of mine who has stopped drinking.
    There was a little itty bitty shelf with a little itty bitty selection.
    Big store that I never went into before.
    Yes I always rotated, but then my favorite store, was a local one where the guy drank a lot!

  7. It is quite interesting that we often cause our own paranoia because the guilt that lives deep within us. I sympathize with your story, I had drinking demons for quite a while as well. It got to the point that I would even lie to my kids about it, because it made ME feel better. When I started to make better decisions, my paranoia and guilt melted away.

    Joanne Krueger @ Kurtz And Blum

  8. This is so funny that you would post this. I am the same way. But it is especially true for buying anything that is intimate. That includes everything from tampons to condoms. I just always wonder what they thing. I do not know why it matters. And I always get butterflies in my stomach when I see a police car.

    Raymond @ Nova Legal Group

  9. Been there, done that. I know what you mean about going to the counter with wine or liquor and wondering if they are really monitoring how much I'm buying in the back of their head. If I go on consecutive days they probably really do wonder. It also makes me wary of police cars. Not so much now.

    Leticia Holt @ KHunter Law

  10. Hi SM. I've been reading your blog for months and have now finally stopped lurking! I just wanted to comment on this post as it's one of my favourites out of all the ones I've read. This fear is SO me, and the day I read it I'd driven back from the same shop, ashamed to have been served by the same person, buying the same (large amount of) wine, and looking around as I drove, totally petrified of seeing any police cars, in case I was still over the limit from the day before.

    I'm now 12 days in and saw a police car today and I really wanted to wave in a moronic manner, almost to entice them to pull me over and breathalyse me. Normal!!!x

    1. Welcome Unknown! Huge congrats on 12 days! That's the hardest bit done :-)

  11. Thank you! I tried to reply with my Wordpress user name ( but it won't let me. It seems I may not have grasped the intricacies of blogging just yet!! 😀