Minor in Possession…
I was grocery shopping of Friday night. Yes, yes, I know, the glamorous life. But I saw something that I thought was rather fascinating and has stuck with me for the past few days and thought I would write about it. Not sure why it’s still in my head, but hopefully this mini-essay will help clear it up.
At the grocery store, I went to pay for the groceries as you do when you’re finished and something was afoot beyond the registers. A flurry of activity.
A little backstory. Washington State had just passed a law making liquor available…well practically anywhere. Target, Rite Aid, grocery stores, Costco…any retailer that applies for the license can sell it. I am not much of a drinker…and when I say much I mean hardly at all. Once Ina blue moon do I engage in any sort of alcoholic activity…and even then I can probably count the number of drinks I’ve had on one hand in my 35-year life. As far as I was concerned I didn’t even know you had to go to a liquor store to get alcohol. It was just something that never occurred to me.
With this new law, retail stores are seeing a major uptick in shoplifting a tremors by minors who think it would be fun to get drunk on a Friday night.
As I stood paying for my groceries a clerk hurried past the store manager and said something to him about something going down. Because the store was nearing later hours they had closed one of the entrances and the suspected shoplifter was apprehended by the store’s security team.
And then the pleading started. This kid, who was no more than maybe 16, 17, reasonably dressed, had been caught putting a $40 bottle of scotch under his shirt and attempting to walk out. The security team took him in and basically told him they were calling the cops, filing paperwork and calling his parents.
Honestly, I don’t know what was the more serious threat. Clearly the kid didn’t relish the thought of having to go through the court proceedings but his parents were going to be called in and that is what prompted him to start pleading with the clerks to let it go, he’d never do it again, etc.
I’m not saying that their punishment was too harsh or not harsh. But it made me wonder at what led him to believe that this was an acceptable course of action…and now, because of his choice, he would most likely have a record.
The clerk and I made small talk as she came back to help me, and she mentioned that with beer it was usually a “don’t do it again warning,” but that they were much more serious about the hard liquor. And they were pressing charges.
I get it. I understand that it’s just another revenue stream for the stores…and that this kid was, in fact, shoplifting. But clearly this was t thought out on their end. Their security team consist of store employees who need to catch the thief and then detain him until the police get there. And because it is a grocery store, they obviously can’t ban children from going in there. They are a crucial demographic as well, and while they may not have the same type of income their parents have, cereals, sodas, chips and candy bars are marketed to them rather heavily. And what parent hasn’t heard the constant nagging of, “Mommy can I PLEASE have that????”
But if the store is going to enter into something that previously had been restricted to over 21 establishments, such as the state-run liquor store, while not changing their general model, then maybe they should also invest in hiring a security guard who is more able to deal with these sorts of problems Ina n effective and controlled way. It only seems fair. That way the safety of the store employee is t at risk and can go back to checking out the other customers and let the safety security officer do their due diligence and their job.
What is most heartbreaking about this entire thing is that this kid made a stupid choice and now is going to have to pay for it. Perhaps he’ll only have a warning or perhaps it’ll be on his record for much longer than that. But as these bigger chain grocery stores start protecting their bottom line even more so, they are going to go after this generation of kids that really didn’t think of the consequence. Their customer service will suffer and in the end the kid, the store, and the other customers will suffer.
I guess this long missive really comes to the fact that while the proponents of this new law that passed won, more than enough people have lost.
but maybe I don’t get it. As I said, I’m not a drinker and therefore chasing the liquid dragon is something that has never appealed to me.