Dylan had wanted, really wanted, this job. His first, aside from mowing lawns and stuff. He had been really happy when he got it. He was still kind of happy about it. He did need to make some money. He knew there were plenty of worse jobs.
He remembered that story about a pottery maker’s apprentice, in China or Korea or someplace like that, who spent years doing the most menial, repetitive tasks before he was allowed to even handle the clay. There was another one about a kitemaker’s apprentice. So this could be that part of having a job. What awesome and noble skill it could lead to remained a mystery. Dylan had only been hauling and unloading boxes of groceries for three weeks and it already felt like a lifetime. He was only a little ways into today’s shift, and the remaining hours stretched before him, an endless desert. With a little lunch oasis. The lame music oozing out of the speakers was slowly turning him into an automaton. He didn’t realize he had come to a complete standstill until an older lady pushed her cart into his aisle. Not knowing how long he had been standing there, he turned and busied himself with the closest thing to hand. He diligently moved the Uncle Ben’s Rice boxes forward and backward by fractions of inches so they all lined up. Focusing intently, as if it mattered. He became the shelf-stocker’s apprentice, displaying his craft.
“Don’t worry,” the lady said. “You’re not busted. I just need some tomato paste.”
“It’s right there,” said Dylan, pointing, in another impressive show of expertise.
“I know,” she smiled. “But thanks.”
She took a couple of cans, put them in her cart and moved on. He looked down at his sneakers to remind himself that he had a life. Then he started in on the soup shelf.