What Foolhardy Mortal Thinks He Can Shelve Faster Than I?Commentary • workplace • Opinion • ISSUE 32•17 • Dec 3, 1997 By Josh Lawler, Stock Boy Josh LawlerStock Boy I am hounded by vassals and impudent whelps who labor under the false belief that it is they who are the best stocking boys in the land. Fools! Their ignorance burdens them like the weight of the world itself. That is their lot. What folly doth flow from their mouths like silken lies from the trickster Loki's lips! Even the blind man can see that it is I who stocks shelves like no other! What foolhardy mortal thinks he can stock shelves faster than I? None, I say! Say you that the Food Lion wherein you toil has just received a large shipment of Knor's soup mix? For you, such unpacking, sorting and shelving is easily a day's labor. But such work is mere seconds for one such as I! Say you that a truckload of Coca-Cola products is being unloaded on the back dock as we speak? I would set to shelving it whilst you were still considering your first course of action! Say you that the clumsy Frito-Lay delivery man is despoiling my carefully crafted O'Boisies display? I would set him straight in an instant! Should one of these defamers of the noble title "stock boy" say in front of myself that they are the better of the two, I would smash him with all my might! For it was I, not they, who wrested space in the cereal aisle for a particularly large Quaker Oats shipment that arrived one bleak morning last February. A lesser stock boy would have done something foolish, like make a single front of the Crunch Berries and put the Quisp on the bottom shelf, the spot reserved for the budget-priced store brands and King Vitaman. In fact, one such fool was in the process of doing so when I tossed him aside like a brittle twig and set to the task myself. Ordinarily, I save my wrath for those truly deserving, such as children who pick up items from the canned-foods and pasta section and place them among the frozen juices, but I have no tolerance for those who defile the bug-eyed, propeller-headed Quisp alien. My manager, at first angered by my treatment of the other stock boy, turned delighted upon learning that I had managed to double front the Crunch Berries and find a prominent spot for the Quisp, as well. He rewarded me with an extra 10-minute break and thrashed the other stock boy like the cur he was. Vengeance! Dost thou not believe me yet, puny mortal? Then hear you this! It was I who had the wherewithal to break free of the confines of grocery-store shelves. "What?" you say. "Such a thing is not done!" Silence! Do not tell me what is and is not done, for I have done it! My story is this: My other manager, the cruel Don, had given me a task that could not be accomplished. What Don demanded of me was to put more canned goods on a shelf than would fit. For days, I struggled with this task, all the while enduring Don's mockery. "Keep up the good work," Don would say. "You've done great with what you have, so maybe you should just move the rest to backstock," Don would say. "Why don't you go on break," Don would say. Each time, my response was the same. I would shout, "Leave me to peace, foul villain!" and assault him with a hail of canned goods in order to drive him from my sight. Finally, on the fifth day, I was nearly broken. No amount of shifting, moving, or dropping could make room for all the Progresso soups in my possession. Then, in a moment of desperation, I called upon Odin to grant me the wisdom to do the impossible. And it hit me like a 40-pound bag of Fresh Step cat litter: I should follow the example of the Egyptians! I summoned all my strength to move the shelves further apart. I then placed between the shelves a foundation, 24 cans by 24 cans, upon which I could place more cans, each level smaller than the one preceding it until I had built a pyramid of cans. The can-pyramid was a spectacle to behold, and it freed up the needed shelf space. Don averted his eyes from mine as I approached, such was the look of triumph on my face. I grabbed him by the nape and verily dragged him to my monument of soups. "Tremble!" I commanded him. "Tremble before the towering face of your defeat!" And with that, I hurled more cans at him until he fled to his lair to mar my permanent record with an insubordination report. Coward! Some of you may think that I speak with a braggart's tongue, that I lack the humility to truly be the greatest stock boy in the land. To those I say this: Would thou cover a statue for the fact that it were too beautiful? Would thou gag a gifted castrato for that the song it sang were too melodious? Would thou bind the bellhop for the masterful manner in which he carries bags to rooms? I say thee, nay! You would not do that! Why, then, wouldst thou silence me? I will tell you why. It is because you are overcome by puny jealousy and simpering denial. You would like me to believe that I could not be so great. But lo, I am. I have gained my rightful place among the gods for my fearsome stocking powers. Go, you, and tell all that the legends are true. That a God walks among you.