Snakes and Pills

149 - pins

Lester grabbed the boxcutter off his tool belt and sliced into the tape holding the box closed. He unfolded the crisp cardboard flaps, and took a moment to revel in the bounty within. Fresh products, no matter expensive gadgets or simple household goods, always had a smell. In this case, he looked down upon the latter: a shipment of toothpaste that needed to be placed on the shelves.

He took in one more whiff of that new product aroma, and then wasted no more time dawdling. He plunged his hands into the box, throwing the neatly packed toothpaste into disarray.

Lester had been at this job for a long time, but he had always been cursed with a lack of grace and coordination. In a moment, the oral hygiene aisle looked as messy as his sty of a bedroom back home. Yet he knew what he was doing, there was a system at work.

He had by now learned where each variety of toothpaste went. It was important to make sure that each box went into the right spot, because the different varieties also had different prices. Customers would get angry if they grabbed a box next to a $1.79 price tag, only to later find out during checkout that it was actually $1.99. So, he had to get it right.

Getting it right was no easy task, either. There were so many different brands of toothpaste, and each brand had a seemingly endless number of variations. Lester liked to think his unique prowess in remembering what went where was why he kept this job. Sure, the rookies could handle stocking the candy or dog food. But nobody knew the toothpaste like he did.

Lester found the whole situation humorous, because he didn't use any of this high-end toothpaste. He bought the generic stuff from the discount store downtown. He doubted the efficacy of all the claims that the toothpaste manufacturers plastered their boxes with. Professional Whitening. Extra Gum Protection. Twenty-Four Hour Cleaning. Bad Breath Control.

It was all just paste for your teeth.

His shelving was going well. He knew the customers were the lifeblood of the store, but they could be a real nuisance sometimes. Most of them would just carefully inch past his mess, tiptoeing around him. Worse was when they would step into his semi-arranged piles of products, knocking everything out of place.

The absolute worst, though, was when customers would pull items off the shelves he was currently stocking. There they were: rows and rows of perfectly-arranged products, all in alignment. And then some neanderthal would just walk up, idly pick up a box, and ruin all of his hard work.

Lester knew it would happen anyway. All beauty stands only to be destroyed. But let him have his moment. Just one brief moment, to take pleasure in what he had created.

He was nearly done, and nobody had bothered him yet. There was just one more kind of toothpaste to shelf. He slid the boxes into place, and then carefully nudged them into the optimal position. He stood back and appraised his shelves. Perfect. He was done.

Perhaps he soaked in the moment a bit too much, because he jumped in surprise as he felt a light tap on his back. Turning around, he saw a little old lady with a shopping basket. "Excuse me, can you help me find something?" she asked.

He felt nervous. She was going to ask for a box of toothpaste and undo everything. But he still remembered his customer service training. He smiled, and said, "Sure."

"I'm looking for a Flaxis Ultrasoft toothbrush. Do you sell that?" the old lady asked.

Toothbrushes. Lester didn't know anything about toothbrushes.


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