Bill Tillman’s nerves were already on edge. The Fourth of July weekend was coming up. It was going to be busy. He had been hard at work restocking the shelves for the coming holiday. Bill took pride in his neatness. Not like some of those dropouts they hired. He was precise.
He had just finished the condiment section. Ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish, pickles. He stood back, admiring his work. Every bottle precisely arranged. Like soldiers standing at attention. It was across from the the tabloids. He hated the tabloids with a passion. The downfall of America. Stories of two headed aliens. Flying saucers. Noah’s Ark discovered. It was all shit.
A customer came up, took a bottle of mayo, and put it in his cart. This was when everything was in glass jars, before plastic took over. The shelf looked like a beautiful woman with a missing tooth.
Bill said: “Would you put that back?”
The man said: “Why?”
“It ruins my new display. I’ve worked hours on it.”
“Tough”, said the man, and took the mayo again.
Bill grabbed it out of his hand and replaced it. Label front, like the others.
“Screw you”, said the man. He took the mayo, held it at arm’s length. Looked Bill straight in the eye, and let it drop. Then he did the same thing with the ketchup, relish, and mustard.
The mustard was the only one in a plastic bottle. But you would be surprised how it would squirt when you stomped it. “YOU FUCKER!” screamed Bill, and punched him in the nose. The man punched back.
They went at it. Bouncing around the isle, knocking off more bottles and tabloids. His scream had brought the manager running. He joined in the fray. The floor became slippery with the goop. Soon they were rolling around on the floor, screaming bloody murder. Not just the bruises and black eyes. But from the broken glass that filled the colorful mess. Mustard in cuts had to be experienced to be believed.
They called 911. The Cops, the Press, and ambulances arrived. But no one wanted to mess up the ambulance interiors, and refused to take them. The Cops said: “DO IT!”
They were taken to Holy Mary. Who didn’t want to deal with them either. The Cops said: “DO IT.”
Admitting didn’t know what to do with these colorful loonies, dripping and bleeding all over the floor. They took them down to Hydrotherapy, where they had a big whirlpool tub filled with warm water, big enough for three. They forced them in shoes and all.
They called Housekeeping for some detergent. Housekeeping dumped in a full gallon. Unfortunately, it was high foam hand washing kind. They hit the ‘Pump’ button. Instantly the foam overflowed the tub and raced toward the walls.
The attendants ran through the double doors, leaving them open. The foam filled the room, muffling the cries of the three men. and rolled down the corridor, filling it. By the time the Fire Dept. arrived it had filled all the halls. It looked like a picture of the Titanic sinking in foam.
The Firemen dispersed the foam. The now clean men, went to the ER with tubes in them. Everybody sued everyone else. It was on national TV, all the newspapers and magazines.
The tabloids had a field day. They said that Bill was the worst stocker in the U S of A. Talk about irony.
(Written Sept. 12, 2016)