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Don’t Sell The Wine If You Can’t Commit The Crime

, , , , , , | Right | May 19, 2022

Retail is a chaotic environment, especially when you’re understaffed and unexpectedly busy.

Two of four registers are open, our manager is handling the delivery from our warehouse, and the other two staff members are sprinting around the busy store trying to fulfil [Popular Delivery App] orders before the drivers show up to collect them.

Then, the school kids show up. We’re queued around the store, but a group of them manage to sweet-talk their way to the front of the huge queue with only a handful of items. Some have sweets, a few of them have some fizzy juice, and a couple of them have large glass bottles of [Brand], a totally non-alcoholic grape drink that looks a lot like wine.

I scan them through as fast as I can and then call on the next customer.

Me: “Next on till one, ple—”

Customer: “You just sold those kids alcohol!

Me: “Wh… Oh… No, that was a bottle of [Brand]; it’s totally non-alcoholic.”

Customer: “Nonsense! Those were clearly wine bottles! I demand to speak to your manager!”

Attempts at further explanation whilst I desperately page my manager to come up the front just make her angrier and angrier. She demands to know why I didn’t chase them when she “pointed out [my] mistake” and berates me on the strict Scottish licencing laws, as if I don’t already know them.

My manager finally appears and tries to calm the woman down. She’s yelling loudly about how she’s going to get me arrested for selling alcohol to minors, spinning tales about how I was probably “in league” with the kids. She goes on and on until the manager gets fed up and demands she leave. Thankfully, she does.

A good twenty minutes later, things are finally starting to calm down when we spot a police car pull up outside. That’s not unusual; they sometimes stop in for milk or snacks for the local police station.

The officers leave their car, enter the store, and stride right up to my register.

Officer #1: “We got a report that a cashier here wilfully sold a minor alcohol. Can we speak to the manager, please?”

I sigh audibly and roll my eyes before responding.

Me: “We had a crazy woman in here earlier who saw me sell some schoolkids [Brand] drink. She thought it was wine and wouldn’t believe us when we tried to explain it.”

Officer #1: “We still need to speak to a manager, and we need to ask you some questions.”

I page the manager again and get a quicker response as it’s quieter. He explains the situation the same as I did, but there’s a procedure to follow.

I’m walked into our back office by the officers. One goes to speak to my manager and review the CCTV and the other starts asking me questions.

Officer #1: “Okay, how many kids were in the group?”

Me: “Four, maybe five. They come in as a big group and split up more often than not.”

Officer #1: “What alcohol did they buy?”

Me: “They didn’t buy any. One member of the group bought a bottle of [Brand] drink, which looks like wine but isn’t wine.”

Officer #1: “We have a witness that says you sold them a bottle of wine.”

Me: “The witness is wrong; there was no alcohol sale.”

Officer #1: “The witness says that you are friends with these kids.”

Me: “I am not. They mill about the store, and I see them for a minute tops maybe once a week. They gather in groups, make a lot of noise, and often cause hassle. I just want them out the door as fast as possible.”

Officer #1: “What is the name of the person you sold the alcohol to?”

Me: “I don’t know any of their names! And I didn’t sell any alcohol to them. I’ve not had a single alcohol sale all day.”

The officer narrows his eyes at me and scribbles something down.

Officer #1: “You know, you’re looking at a £10,000 fine and three months in prison, right? This would be a lot easier if you just told the truth.”

Me: “Wha… But I’ve not done anything!”

Officer #1: “Just tell me who you sold it to!”

Before I can stammer out a reply, the door opens and [Officer #2] sticks her head in.

Officer #2: “I just checked the CCTV and till logs with [Manager]. It was [Brand] drink, not alcohol.”

They look over at me and see me shaking, pale, and on the verge of crying.

Officer #2: “What the h*** is going on in here?”

Officer #1: “I thought he was lying.”

Officer #2: “Get out of here, [Officer #1]. Now.”

Without a word, [Officer #1] stood and shuffled out of the room. [Officer #2] sat down across from me and did her best to calm me down. My manager stuck his head in and told me to take the rest of the day off.

I told him I quit.

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