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My first job, other than the paper route, was as a stock boy at a national office supply store chain. I still have the name badge. And the box cutter. And a bunch of stories. Adeline drew one out of me tonight when she asked me how come I don’t do pranks on April Fools.

“You’re no fun.”

It’s a matter of self defense at this point. So I tell her about my first job and how one of our key duties as stock boys was to keep the shelves stocked. The extra pencils and other officey items were kept high up on the tippy top of the aisles. Ladders were provided, the staircase-on-wheels variety. They jingled like a shopping cart as you rolled them into position. Then they jangled like a garbage truck when you locked them into place.

Stocking the shelves was a one person chore that we routinely expanded to require two. One pulls the boxes down. The other fills the shelves and sends the leftovers back up. When one finds themselves at the top of the ladder one gets inspired. (It must be the thinner air up there.) Like how all the boxes look like they weigh about the same from down below. You can’t tell the difference until your partner slides the box down one of the ladder’s railings into your waiting grasp. I succumbed to this temptation when I pretended a box was really heavy, and then let it “slip” out of my fingers. I did this several times to several different coworkers. The box was always empty. I found the final time as funny as the first. That was me at 16.

This made Adeline smile. I could see all of her dimples. Even the one on her left temple.


A little more about Erik Eustice...