'Honey, why are you trying to buy beer?'

"Honey, you're too young to even buy cigarettes. What are you doing in here buying beer?"

Words to live by.

They came from Amit Kataria, a 21-year-old clerk at Eagle Gas, when a 16-year-old girl tried to buy a 12-pack in the store on Wednesday evening.

Little did Kataria know at the time he was doing himself as much of a favor as he was the teenager, who had been sent in as a decoy by Carson City sheriff's deputies.

Had he sold her beer, the clerk would have faced fines of $632. Had it not been a sting, a 16-year-old girl would have been hitting the streets with half a case of beer.

Fortunately, most of the stores visited by deputies and decoys on Wednesday didn't sell to the teenager. But several did, and the excuses given by clerks were pathetic.

One blamed poor eyesight, reportedly telling deputies he usually didn't bother to check IDs because he couldn't see the numbers on them anyway. Another said she wasn't paying attention.

Well, clerks and store owners better start paying attention. It wasn't like they didn't have warnings from the Sheriff's Department, which had conducted two earlier stings.

The first one was a polite reminder. The second carried a warning. This time, deputies wrote citations.

Although the Nevada Appeal cropped a photo so the 16-year-old wouldn't be recognized, she was clearly underage. No one who has the responsibility of selling alcohol could have been fooled -- if they were paying attention, and if they take that responsibility seriously.

Commendations to sheriff's deputies for conducting the sting and to the clerks that didn't sell beer to an 11th-grade student, especially the clerks like Kataria who took the time to deliver a little message of their own.

Instead of waiting for something bad to happen, they may well have prevented it.


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