Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sting

There are just nights, that you wished never happened… Tonight was one of those nights.

The “sting” was on. The Minneapolis Police Department decided that September 30, 2010 was a great night to perform an alcohol compliance check on the vending department at Target Field.

For those of you who don’t know, an alcohol sting usually involves a college student who looks to be of legal drinking age, but is about 19 or 20 years old. This kid is given a $10 bill and told to try to buy beer from as many people as he or she can at a sporting event. The vendors who pass are rewarded, and those who fail are disciplined and can even face criminal charges.

In my 22 years of vending, I had managed to avoid every police sting.

… until tonight.

99 times out of 100, beer vendors come through with flying colors. After all, we are the “Pro’s”. We are on our own every night and are taught how to handle all sorts of situations. There’s a reason we have to sit through 3-5 hours of training each year.

We should be able to pass a compliance check 100% of the time.

Not 99% of the time…


It’s not that hard. Company policy is to ID anyone under 30 years old. This makes it pretty straightforward, and should protect all beer vendors from serving someone under 21.

Tonight, I was “Stung”, for the first time ever.

I had barely sold my first 6 pack in the concourse prior to tonight’s game, when a “young kid” approached me and asked for a Grain Belt Premium. I popped the top, set it back in the ice, and told him that it would be $7.

He handed me a $10 bill and I asked for his ID. So he handed it to me.


I did a double take, and then still had to look at it again. 1991?? Hey, that was the year the Twins last won the World Series… Wait a minute, that’s not right. Legal drinking age was 9-30-1989.

Could this kid really be trying to buy beer and he is not 21?

Is my math wrong?

Keep in mind that I had NEVER seen an underage ID before. Sure, I have had numerous customers over the past 20+ years who have “forgotten” their ID in the car, or “left it at home”. But this was my first customer - EVER - who had tried to buy beer and showed me his ID that said he was under 21.

After all that pondering, I handed this kid his $10 back, put his Wisconsin driver’s license in my pocket and told him that I couldn’t sell to him.

He just looked at me and said, “OK”, and walked away.

Really… “OK”… That’s all I get!!! You try to break the law and just walk away and say ‘OK”???!

Where are the fireworks and confetti from the ceiling?? I just kept a minor from buying a beer.

But, there should be no fireworks or celebration… I did nothing special.

I did my JOB!

That’s what I’m supposed to do. Serve beer to the adults, and protect my customers by making sure no one under 21 buys a beer.

Unfortunately, not everyone did their job tonight. Not everyone passed this compliance check.

I’m so irritated, embarrassed and depressed that two of my fellow vendors served beer to this kid.

These were vendors who have been doing this longer than I have… Guys who have 25+ years of experience. Vendors who are very close friends… Vendors who I might never see again.

Company police is very clear on failing a compliance check.


It isn’t even something that is up for discussion. … and maybe it shouldn’t be. After all, isn’t a beer vendors’ #1 responsibility to make sure that no one under the age of 21 is able to drink?

It doesn’t help my feelings that we are still all a team, and these are my friends. These are/were good beer vendors.

… and it all can end just like that if you are not careful.

Tonight, I did my job, and am thankful I get the chance to work another day.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jacket Weather is Back

What a difference a couple of days and 10 degrees make. Tonight was the first game since early May that I saw fans wearing jackets and bundling up for the game at Target Field. Two nights ago shorts and T-shirts were in fashion, and fans were hoping for a breeze to cool off. Tonight, I saw a few fans even covering up under blankets.

Hot Chocolate vendors returned to the seats. Strange… just last week, I sold water to help keep fans cool, and 10 days later we are working on keeping them warm.

I have worn shorts at every game since early May, but it might be time to consider going back to long pants in the next few days. It seems so long ago that I needed a long sleeve shirt under my bright yellow uniform shirt, but those days are about to return.

This can only mean the end of the season is near. There are only 16 more games to go in the regular season. Every vendor looks forward to the end of the season when we get our lives back and don’t have to work 8 hours at our regular jobs and then head downtown for another 4-5 hours at Target Field. It’s a crazy life when you actually look forward to Fall and Winter in Minnesota, but that’s what vending does to a person.