For a short time, I worked as a barista beneath the staircase in the Bismarck airport.
It was a kiosk, and travelers would tromp up the stairs overhead, stairs which weren’t solid and I remembered how my sister referred to cowboy boots as “shit kickers” and I wondered how many travelers wore cowboy boots as they walked over me and if that was just dust falling to my head below. The owner insisted we hang a huge French flag that said “OPEN” in the middle white stripe over the side of a pop cooler to drum up business and I referred to it as the French Open flag only once. She would leave yellow post-it notes for me, telling me what I had done wrong the day before.
“You did not change out the vanilla syrup bottle and I had to. Never forget to do that again,” she’d write. My loathing grew.
The kiosk was busy only when there were flights, where it would explode with half-caf soy lattes and impatient travelers from the East feeling the pain of having to even be in North Dakota.
The days were agonizingly slow. I invented coffee drink recipes.
I brought my sketchbook.
I drew the patrons who waited for flights to leave and arrive, and imagined the stories.
I’m pretty sure I got the stories wrong.
But I only worked there for about five minutes so I was kind of in a hurry.