Shops cash in on drinking minors
Tyrone Reid, Sunday Gleaner Reporter
The illegal sales of alcoholic beverages to minors are moving smoother than the booze being purchased.
No questions were asked - literally. The money was just collected and the alcoholic beverages delivered to the children, some of whom were wearing their school uniform at the time of the purchase.
In the words immortalised by super sleuth Adrian Monk from the hit television series, Monk, "Here's what happened:"
Darren Priestman, 17, visited the Select convenience store located on the premises of the Shell service station in Liguanea.
He was dressed in street clothes. The cashier sold him a Guinness stout and a Red Stripe beer. No questions asked. The manager was out. When confronted with what she had done, the cashier told our news team that Darren "looked big" for his age.
Another cashier admitted that her colleague had erred and pledged to be more vigilant.
Our team then headed to Empire Supermarket across the street. A security guard stationed at the liquor section told one of the students that he could not be in that area in his school clothes.
But 17-year-old Samantha Grant, who was in street clothes, was able to purchase a Smirnoff vodka and a bottle of Red Label wine. Again, no questions were asked. The booze was just cashed and bagged.
When confronted with the cold, hard facts (liquor and receipt of purchase, with the minor in tow) that his store had just broken the law, Gavin Williams, store manager, described the sale as unfortunate.
He could not say how many times Empire Supermarket had broken the law by selling alcohol to a minor, but pledged to tighten up the store's operations to prevent recurrences.
"It should probably open our eyes now in how we move forward and handle minors who seek to purchase liquor," said Williams.
Sixteen-year-old Natasha Francissuccessfully purchased a cold Red Stripe beer from a corner shop. When confronted, the young man who sold her the beer nonchalantly said this was Jamaica, where anything goes.
After being told about the law and the consequences of selling alcohol to a minor, he sobered up somewhat.
No questions asked
Lisa's Pub, a bar along Old Hope Road, was visited by Marissa Williams, 16, who bought a Guinness stout. Once again - you guessed it - no questions were asked.
When tackled with the facts of the law, the bartender who sold Marissa the popular stout, even though she was wearing her school uniform, said she did not know if a parent had sent the 16-year-old to make the purchase.
She explained that, in the past, when she refused to sell alcoholic beverages to minors, the parents would come to the bar and tell her to do so because the child was running an errand on their behalf.
Sixteen-year-old Akeiba Chamberswas next. She, too, purchased a Guinness stout while wearing her school uniform, but this time from a sports club in central Kingston.
Barring a wisecrack about her being underage, nothing else was said, and she was sold the stout with no questions asked.
Permission for the teens' participation was received from their schools and parents.