She gives a smile and nods before heading to the back of the store, the invoice in her hand. Counting up the ones I have in hand, there are ten wrong bottles between three boxes and two boxes missing a bottle each. Today is easily one of the worst days I’ve had working here. Thankfully, the hard part is done. The only thing left is to find the person and tear into them.

I untie my thin, black hoodie from around my waist and put it on before heading into the downstairs cellar storage. At the bottom step I peak into the small storeroom to the left to see if anybody’s there. There’s nothing but reused wine boxes that were repurposed as storage boxes. I head right and start walking through the maze of metallic shelves of unopened wine boxes, taking quick looks at the different label designs.

When I reach the back aisle I see a few opened boxes lining the tile flooring, all of them leading to a person standing at the end of it. Normally showing off his shiny, bald head, he has on a bright blue baseball turned backwards. The thick strings to the matching apron are tied tightly, almost like they could leave deep marks on his skin.

Every time I see this mother fucker, I just wanna punch him straight in the face.

“Hey, Tyler.”

The sounds of papers shuffling echos at the end of the aisle as he carefully turns around to avoid hitting the wine bottles organized on the wall rack. The bright ceiling light illuminates the thick, bushy facial hair hanging from the bottom of his chin. The small pouch on the front of his apron is covered in a light layer of dust and has some folded up papers in it.

The man who’s been working in this wine store for the longest, at least among the stock members, Tyler gives me his full attention, “Hey, Eliza. You down here looking for bottles, too?”

“Not exactly,” I reply as I hand him the papers I have. He licks his thumb and quickly looks through them as I continue, “I went and checked the few boxes you left open, the ones over in front of the Spanish aisle.”

When I mention the fact that I was checking his pulls his entire face beams with a proud smile. He even pounds his chest with his fist, “Ah, you’re checking my work. Though, to be honest, it’s just a waste of time: I never pull wrong bottles.”

Working stock in a small wine shop is already stressful when I have to balance pulling orders that need to be sent across the country and pulling orders for nearby deliveries. And on top of that, I also have to check orders that other people did before they leave the store. And then there’s the wine storage aspect, doing bi-monthly inventory checks, washing the glasses for our weekly tastings, and a whole bunch of other boring stuff. Having to deal with an arrogant dickhead for a co-worker is the last thing I want to worry about.

In Tyler’s eyes, he can never do wrong. If the world worked based on Tyler’s ego, it would be impossible for him to make mistakes. Unfortunately for anybody who has to talk to him in the real world, speaking to him his always an argument. And after having to deal with three months of his shit I’m done about caring about somebody’s personal feelings at the workplace.

I snatch the papers back and take out the pen resting in my back pocket. I circle different items on each invoice and pass them back to him, “You pulled the wrong bottles on each of these invoices. I took the wrong bottles out of the box and left them on the floor. You need to finish the rest.”

Tyler gives me the most confused expression I’ve ever seen: his eyebrows scrunch up, his thin lips pucker, and he even tilts his head as if he were a puppy. He doesn’t look cute at all making that face and it doesn’t help that he’s a thirty year old man. I don’t understand how hard it could be to process what I just told him.

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