Shelf-stocking technique has some saying they’ll never shop at the branch, or even the chain, again.

They say that living overseas changes your perspective, and since moving to Japan my attitude about convenience stores has done a complete 180, going from “a place to buy gas and maybe Gatorade” to “a viable option for tasty prepared meals and beautifully made, mouth-watering desserts.”

A lot of that has to do with how seriously Japanese convenience stores take health and hygiene. Multiple times a day the staff checks for expired foodstuffs and swaps in fresh replacements, and the shelves, floors, and even bathroom are kept as clean as many people’s apartments.

But while this is all remarkably refreshing to an American ex-pat like myself, in Japan, it’s simply how things have been done for as far back as most people can remember, which is why this snapshot of a worker stocking the shelves at a branch of Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart is causing a huge stir online.

The photo, tweeted by @sh12_17, shows the employee putting drinks into the refrigerated section, but apparently the upper shelves are a bit of a reach for him. So to make his job easier, he’s stepped up onto a pair of shipping crates filled with cartons of milk and fruit juice, placing the soles of his feet along their edges.

Since the crates are designed to be stacked on top of each other, the edges ostensibly protrude past the top tips of the drink cartons, which means the employee isn’t technically stepping on the products themselves. Still, his shoes are pretty close to the merchandise, and this probably wouldn’t be something customers in any country would be necessarily happy to see. But for @sh12_17, and many other Japanese Twitter users, this conduct is so revolting as to have permanent consequences. “I’m never shopping at this Family Mart branch again,” Tweeted @sh12_17, and many others agreed, retweeting the photo over 25,000 times and leaving comments including:

“I’m never going to any Family Mart ever again.”
“Wow, that’s nasty.”
“What the hell does he think he’s doing?”
“This is stupidly wrong.”
“Seriously, you should know enough not to do this by the time you’re in elementary school, and I’m talking about the lower grades even.”

Some speculated that the pictured clerk must be a no-good teenager, but @sh12_17 says the worker is a middle-aged, fully adult man. One commenter, claiming to be a current Family Mart employee, pointed out that standing on top of the crates like this is against company policy, and more than one person implored @sh12_17 to take this incriminating photo up the chain of command by sending the photo to the store’s manager as well as Family Mart’s corporate headquarters, which @sh12_17 says he plans to do.

In the meantime, sharp-eyed commenters noticed the Family Mart branch ID number on the shipping crates and used it to deduce that the store where the photo was taken was likely the Nishi Yodogawa Nozato branch in Osaka. Given Japanese consumers’ customer service expectations, @sh12_17’s photo is likely to give local nearby branches of rival convenience stores a nice sales boost, provided they make sure their own employees know how to use stepladders.

Source: Twitter/@sh12_17 via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@sh12_17

Follow Casey on Twitter, where despite the unappetizing photo, he still thinks Family Mart’s instant curry packs are pretty tasty.