Like many of you brave souls, I once worked retail. At one of the largest video game stores in the United States, in fact. It was a glorious time, just before the advent of corporate's fixation on reservations and subscriptions, but during the heady days of the newly launched XBox 360 and PS3. Systems flew of the shelves, Jack Thompson was the source of many a knowing chuckle, and I truly enjoyed going into work each and every day.
Now, because Jack Thompson was still a thing at that time, we had all been briefed over and over again that we could not sell rated M games to minors, and had to in every single case get the purchaser's ID. If the minor wanted the game, we had to get their parent to approve. No parent, no sale.
Cue the 13 year old gangster kid. He waltzed into the store all dressed up, trying to look as intimidating as a short, chubby pre-teen with ego issues could. I kept an eye on him, asked him if he needed help, and went about my business.
After about ten minutes he came up to the front desk with GTA San Andreas. He slammed it down on the front desk and announced, "I'm getting this."
Cheerful, delighted me replied, "Of course! Can I see your ID?"
Blank stare. "What?"
I helpfully flipped the game case over to the ESRB rating. "I'm sorry, but since this is a rated M for mature game, I'm not able to sell it without your ID or your mother or father's permission."
His eyes lit up. Little did I know, I'd given him the perfect out. With a hurried, "One sec," he ran out of the store to fetch the parental unit. The parental unit in this case turned out to be his mother, or possibly grandmother, who clearly spoke little to no English as her frustrated chatter to her son revealed as she entered the store.
"What do you need?" she grumbled at him as they came to the desk.
"The lady needs your ID, just show her your license and say OK," her son told her as quickly as he could. "It's nothing, they're just stupid."
Now, you might have noticed I put that dialogue in italics. That's because it was conducted entirely in Spanish, and because, thanks to my public school education, I knew Spanish. Not well enough to write an essay, but definitely well enough to follow the conversation and know the son was trying to pull a fast one on Mom. Time for due diligence.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but your son wishes to purchase this mature game," I told her.
Her eyes widened. (Ed. note: I am the whitest white chick that ever walked the earth. I'm so white, my ancestors came over on the Mayflower.) "Ok, fine," she replied, "Let me get it." She started to rummage about in her purse while her son glared daggers at me.
"There's a little more to it," I told her. I pointed deliberately to the M rating. "This game has blood, violence, people having sex, naked people, drugs, and other assorted mature topics. I want to make sure you understand this before I sell him the game."
Her eyes got wider and wider with each strike against the game, as her son wilted more and more. When I finished, she whipped around, grabbed her son by the ear, and marched him out of the store flinging invectives and curses at him for trying to trick her into letting him get the game.
I chuckled, put the game away, and lay in wait for the next troublemaker to enter the store.