“I need you to finish these pallets before you leave today,” Sandy said, making a sweeping gesture with her arm toward the maze of stacked boxes.
Colleen scanned the hopelessly clogged stockroom. “There’re at least thirty pallets left. How are we supposed to get all of this done with only four people?”
Sandy grabbed a pallet jack and pushed it under a skid of cereal. “When I used to work freight, I could put away six pallets in an hour—sometimes more—by myself.”
“In the snow, walking uphill,” Mike grunted. He rolled a heavy flatbed filled with cases of bottled water out of the stockroom and onto the sales floor. Sandy ignored him.
“If we only had paper towels and plastic bins to put away, then sure,” Colleen continued. “But you and I both know that putting away a case of cosmetics isn’t the same as a case of laundry detergent. All those tiny little lipsticks and bottles take forever.”
“Then start on toilet paper,” Sandy said.
“I’m working on toilet paper,” hollered Dominic from somewhere behind a wall of boxes.
“Fine, work on rugs.”
“Why do I always get the worst pallets?” Colleen whined.
Sandy pulled her pallet of cereal to the sales floor, hobbling on a foot that hadn’t healed correctly—couldn’t heal correctly—because she wouldn’t stay off her injury long enough to make a difference. Her shoulder ached from the strain. Sandy wasn’t supposed to be stocking shelves at all, not since she’d been promoted to store manager. Even still, there weren’t enough payroll hours to put the truck away without her help. Sandy wore the scars from climbing the retail ladder, but if she could just hang on a few more years, she would be eligible for retirement.
“Guess who quit?”
(297 words Carrot Ranch 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo)