If you’re over 30 and it made your day when you recently got carded at a bar, don’t get too excited. They may not have asked for your picture ID because you look young. It may simply be company policy!

These days, a lot of bars, liquor stores, and sports stadiums, card everyone, even people who have gray hair, stooped shoulders and wrinkles and couldn’t possibly pass for 51, let alone 21. Some say they do it because of the “embarrassment factor.” In other words, they don’t want to card someone who’s 40 but looks 20 and not card their friend who’s 40 but looks 60. 

Other companies say they want to eliminate the guesswork, and make sure they don’t accidentally serve alcohol to anyone who’s underage. And the numbers bear that out, because in cities where ID checks are mandatory, liquor sales to kids have evaporated.

But a lot of people who are obviously older than 21 complain that being asked to show ID is ridiculous, annoying, and a total waste of time. Plus, a lot of people, especially women, are reluctant to reveal their age, or they think it’s an invasion of privacy.

After numerous complaints, some bars and liquor stores requiring mandatory ID checks backed down and stopped carding people who look older than 50. But a lot of managers don’t see why anyone would complain. After all, senior citizens have to prove their age to get a senior discount at restaurants and movie theaters. Why should it be any different to prove you’re old enough to drink? So, if you’re in your 30s or 40s and you get carded, it may not mean that your wrinkle cream is really working. It could just be standard policy.