Last Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., I arrived at a local grocery store in Atlanta and called Simons Addai-Mensah, the Coca-Cola merchandiser I would be working with for the day.

“I’m inside already,” he said, “Aisle 13.”

I groggily made my way through the empty store and saw Addai-Mensah loading dozens of cases of Coke products onto the shelves. I knew right away that this would be much different than my usual workday interning for the public affairs and communications team at The Coca-Cola Company.

I volunteered with the merchandising team on a whim. They asked for assistance preparing for the busy Fourth of July weekend, and I was curious to see another side of the business. I could not have asked for a better employee to show me the ropes.

Coca-Cola Merchandising

Throughout the day, Addai-Mensah displayed a tireless work ethic and a bright smile, humming as he moved hundreds of cases and bottles. He had just returned from a 12-day vacation and could tell that he was sorely missed.

This was his territory, and he took pride in perfecting the details of his job.

He led me past the “Employees Only” sign to the back store room, which looked like a maze of boxes and cases. He was masterful with the forklift, stacking and rearranging huge pallets like he was playing a game of Tetris. The Coca-Cola section was one of the most organized. From climbing on top of a pallet to reach the products he needed, to getting down on his hands and knees to precisely arrange a display, Addai-Mensah didn't hesitate to go the extra mile.

As I helped Addai-Mensah move cases from the pallets to the shelves, he shared some tricks of the trade with me. These included pulling the top row of cases out a couple of inches so they are easier for customers to grab. He also suggested positioning drink packages with the plastic handle out to minimize dropped bottles, and moving cold drinks from the back to the front when refilling a cooler. And, perhaps most importantly, I learned to rotate each bottle so the Coca-Cola logo faces the customer.

Coca-Cola Merchandising

These may seem like minor details to the untrained eye, but Addai-Mensah knows they make a difference.

Other employees around the store clearly admired him. “Hey, the Coca-Cola man is back!” more than one exclaimed as we weaved pallets through the back storeroom. Addai-Mensah smiled and nodded, happy to be recognized by the brand he took so much pride in.

I was inspired by his work ethic… and I learned first-hand that there will always be more cases to stack, more labels to turn, and more happiness to spread.

Michael Agrippina is a summer intern at The Coca-Cola Company.