Outside in the parking lot and on a “Green Sweep”—what Starbucks calls picking up lids, cups, and those recycled corrugated-fiber cardboard sleeves, which cost more than the lid, cup, and the coffee filling it—I walked by my motorcycle. My starchy apron caught around my knees in a gust of wind. The air thinned like the intake before a sneeze. I had two hours left of my shift. If I rode home in the rain, then my clogs would feel like buckets of cement.
Inside, Jeremy knelt by the safe. His frame hulked above the counter. He could’ve done some damage in high school football, but he was the assistant manager counting my drawer.
Jeremy looked up, beyond me, through the windows, and at the sky churning with clouds like frothed cappuccino milk. He nodded at me. Jeremy knew I was just a college kid who loved coffee, worked to pay rent, and wanted to leave early; while I knew Jeremy was a man who worked for his wife and two small kids. Weekly, he called the entire phone list asking for shifts so he would make 40-hours and keep benefits.
As I rode away, the hair on my knuckles lifted with the static charge in the air. I could taste the sizzle. One zap would melt my motorcycle and me into a chunk of metal and flesh. I rolled back on the throttle thankful to not be wringing out a towel, grateful to Jeremy stuck at work.