by Chris Okum

He was in between jobs. Previously, he had been an Associate at Whole Foods, where he worked in the cheese section from nine at night until six in the morning. One of his responsibilities had been to ensure that inventory was either stocked at acceptable levels or on order, especially the Humboldt Farm brand of blue and goat cheeses, which were the store's biggest sellers. He had been instructed to keep the entire section looking abundant from top to bottom. That was the key word throughout the store. "Abundant." All cheeses had to be re-wrapped and labeled. There was a proprietary wrapping technique he could not figure out how to perform no matter how many times he did it, no matter how many times someone more experienced showed him how to do it. He spent a lot of time in the freezer, where he had to wear a special coat, mask, hairnet, and covers for his shoes. "Being in a freezer at three in the morning isn't fun. I hate it," he said to his co-worker, June, a retired school teacher. He was employed at Whole Foods from October to December. He was fired half way into his shift, at two-thirty in the morning. His supervisor told him that everyone on the team had taken a vote and that they had decided unanimously to vote him off the team. He was also an insurance liability, according to his supervisor. "You're not following safety protocols," his supervisor said. Two security guards escorted him out of the building. "See you, June," he said. June waved at him and then she said something, he wasn't quite sure, but it sounded like, "You have Lou Gehrig's disease." When he got home he woke up his wife and told her that he was unemployed again. His wife, however, wasn't mad. "I'm too pregnant to get mad," she said. She told him her hands hurt. She asked him if he would go out and get her a Coke Slurpee. "Yes," he said. The last time he had gone to 7-Eleven at three in the morning a young man had tried to jump in the car with him. He had been able to talk the young man out of the car, but he could not remember what he had said, or how he had said it.