From behind the furniture boxes in the warehouse at the back of the store, Jerry could hear them looking for him. Instead of standing to answer the calls of his manager and his kiss-ass cronies, Jerry picked up a miniature Snickers bar and rested his head on the boxed gun cabinet that he had strategically placed to serve as one wall of his secret hiding spot. The other was the gray cinder block wall of the Wal-Mart’s storage room, constantly cold and appropriately dismal-looking. When he sat down on a mop bucket between the wall and box, Jerry was invisible. Over the course of several months, he’d stashed wasted candy and snacks from the torn package bin and even a magazine in the space.

The manager finally resorted to paging Jerry over the intercom; he was obviously serious this time. With a sigh, Jerry left his cubbyhole and its cramped solitude, picked up the worn industrial-sized broom and snuck through the plastic doors. He swept up the pets department first. When his manager found him there a few minutes later, he pretended he’d been there the whole time, sheepishly admitting he had forgotten to turn on his walkie-talkie and that he’d somehow missed hearing their pages.

Though he’d been there eleven years this November, Jerry hadn’t made many friends in the Wal-Mart. For the most part, he kept to himself, doing what he was told, other than disappearing now and then. If nothing else, he was reliable (something most of his coworkers weren’t) yet his manager never seemed to get off of his back. Even when his rundown Toyota didn’t start, Jerry walked the mile and a half from his dirty efficiency in the historic (nearly abandoned) downtown to the giant glowing building on the edge of town to make it to work on time. Year after year he stayed, not because the pay was good, or for the companionship, or even because he liked this town. It was just his way, to put up and shut up.

He could tell his anger with his situation was coming to a head, though.

Hallie Weibel
Customer Service
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