Hey Mister

"Hey Mister, the guy inside knows that I'm under 21, but would you be able to buy us some vodka?"  We clearly stated that we were under 21 years of age, and yet two middle-aged members of the community bought us, a 17 year old female and 18 year old male, vodka and a six pack of beer. 

Recently, two HC DrugFree Teen Advisory Council Members went out with the Howard County Police Department Liquor Inspector.  We did two different operations: the "Hey Mister," where we would stand outside of liquor stores asking customers to go into the store and buy us some alcohol, and the other was where we would actually enter the store and try to buy some alcohol.  For the "Hey Mister," we would say the line given to us and say we are under 21 years old, and then the person would usually reply with a laugh and a "No, sorry I can't do that."  For the other operation, we actually drove to different liquor stores in Howard County and went into the stores, picked out some alcohol, showed the cashier our real IDs, and then tried to buy.  The cashiers would usually look at the ID, looking confused, and then would say that I am underage so cannot buy the drinks.  Of the three different liquor stores I went to, none let me buy because my ID says that I am only 17.  On the other hand, the other HC DrugFree volunteer did get one store to sell him alcohol even though his ID clearly shows that he is underage.

During the "Hey Mister," we stood outside of the liquor store for about two hours, asking people going into the store to buy us some alcohol.  It took two hours for a customer to go inside the store and tell the cashier that kids are hanging out outside asking people to buy them vodka.  So after these two hours, the manager came out and told us to leave.  But, it took two hours and about twenty people for this to happen.  Out of the twenty people we asked to buy us something, two people actually accepted the offer.  So on average, waiting one hour outside of a liquor store asking strangers to buy, gave us one success.  One success in one hour is not a big time commitment as a way for desperate teens to get their hands on some drinks.

It is far too easy for underage teens to get their hands on alcohol.  It is even more appalling that two members of our community were willing to risk so much in order to "do us a favor."  But not buying teens alcohol would be doing the teens a "favor."  Not only does the adult buyer get a citation and fined for giving underage teens alcohol, but also puts the kids and other peoples' lives in danger.  The adults in the community bought us alcohol, with which we could do whatever we wanted.  We could drink and drive.  We could get into a car accident.  That car accident could be fatal.  Not only would it be putting our own lives at risk, but also risk innocent lives of people who have friends, family, and loved ones.  We could get alcohol poisoning.  We could ruin our futures by getting suspended.  We could not be able to walk at graduation.  We could lose a job.  All of these outcomes are the consequence of one bad choice of the adults for buying and the underage teens for drinking.  We all have choices to make in life; choices can either be beneficial or detrimental.  It is up to each and every one of us, no matter the age, sex, religion, or race, to make the right decisions.