The Eighth Page

Ezekiel O’Tool: Employee of the Month

The “Employee of the Month” is supposed to represent the store in which he works, being the ideal worker in terms of both ethics and determination. This month, one such employee exemplified all of the traits necessary to become “Employee of the Month”: politeness, perseverance, and complete lack of a social life. In a landslide victory, Ezekiel O’ Tool was this month’s most outstanding employee. Ezekiel is only 13 years old, but he has the heart of a lion and the balls of an elephant. Plus he looks about 35. Ezekiel was born in the Features Convenience Store and has lived here ever since. His mother, pregnant with the little rascal for roughly 11 months, came in one hot summer day to buy her daily six-pack. An employee at the time had recently mopped the floors and put up the proper caution signs. The warnings, however, meant nothing to Ezekiel’s mother, who only spoke Gaelic. She walked at a speed much too fast for the slippery floor, and she fell on her stomach. She hit the floor with such force that Ezekiel flew out of her into the soda rack. The woman got up, paid for her alcohol and went on her merry way home. I have allowed Ezekiel to live in the basement of the store and work here ever since. At the age of two, he was bagging groceries on check-stand seven. I’m not kidding when I say his first words were “Paper or plastic?” Now he is my top clerk, raking in more money than all of my other clerks combined. People from all over the area come to see, as they call him, “Ezekiel, the sideways-smiling cashier-ringing phenomenon.” Every day, he comes into the store with a smile—I guess because one side of his mouth runs almost up to his ear as a result of mommy’s big slip and fall. However, neither his facial deformities nor trials with puberty could have harmed his chances of winning the “Employee of the Month” title. Happiness and determination are always apparent in the young boy. The gleam in his eye captures the hearts of all who enter the store and his kindness makes him seem almost Christ-like, but way less kind and loving because, well, it’s Jesus we’re talking about here. Ezekiel is a shining light in this dark cave of a world. I have a great anecdote that truly depicts why Ezekiel is “Employee of the Month.” Just the other day, a man in a hooded sweatshirt came into the store, reeking of smoke and moldy cheese. He walked around the store for quite some time, eyeing a few gossip magazines in the process. After a while, he walked over to Ezekiel’s cash register and put a gun to the poor kid’s head. “Give me the mother (expletive) money, (female dog)!” the hooded man shouted. Ezekiel did not move a muscle, and his permanent smile became especially big. Lip touched ear. Ezekiel replied, “It’s too bad you didn’t come by a week earlier, good sir, because the trap doors hadn’t been installed yet.” The boy then pressed a button on his cash register, opening the floor beneath the moldy cheese man. I went over to see that the inexperienced thief had fallen into a pit of snakes below the floor. I looked to Ezekiel in amazement, who said, “Paper or plastic, sir?” At that point, Ezekiel had locked up “Employee of the Month.” He is definitely not like any of my other workers, but that’s what makes him all the better. Unfortunately, he can’t work here anymore because child services wasn’t pleased with his basement house or easy access to mass quantities of snakes. He will be missed. -Ryan Yost