Jacob, 28, kind of a writer, playing for the other team, like to pretend my boots & I are vegan.
Go ahead and ask
From the drive-thru, I watch the nervous girl standing in line with her little brother (brother?) while her parents wait in the car, focused on their own phones. Her brother laughs with some other boys but she’s staring at the small group of people at the edge of the parking lot, trying not to be obvious—but she’s obvious.
“Want some coffee?” Dad asks, “I’ve earned a free one.”
“Seriously?” I ask. The seat belt constrains.
“Hon. Drop it. These are not bad people.” He points to the drive-thru menu as we creep forward. “This is a franchise. Okay? And remember when you were in band how they had band appreciation nights and portions of sales went to raise money for y’all? These are not—”
“Hey, sweetie,” calls a voice from the intercom.
“Hey, how’s it going, Hon?”
“Just a quiet morning. Haha.”
When I look through the back seat, I can see her reflected in the side of black Hummer two vehicles behind. She’s almost to the entrance. Is she even in high school, yet? And through the space between the Hummer and the Tacoma behind it, I can see the posters: Kiss In. I demonstrated in one once. My dad is still laughing as he orders.
“And I’ve earned a free coffee,” he says. “Also, my senior discount?”
“Alright, sweetie. See you at the window.”
We turn from the girl and the others. More people are coming from where they parked in the Walmart lot.
“It’s free speech, you know. I’m for it. For it both ways. I’d be just as proud if you joined those kids protesting over there. You know…job search tomorrow. I’m not making you pay rent, Hon. You can come back.”
“I just can’t believe that today when I need to borrow the car—”
“I always grab breakfast here. Before this started. It doesn’t mean anything when I do it.”
“Hey, sweetie,” a woman half Dad’s age says. “Oh! Is this your daughter? He tells us all about you. She is gorgeous.”
I flash a ‘good girl’ smile.
“Well, you might see her back here in a few minutes,” he says. I should’ve made him breakfast instead of agreeing to buy him some. I didn’t know where he meant to go.
“Well, it’s a long line. We ran out of a lot of things yesterday so get here soon, sweetie.”
As we pull away, as I realize there are too many pushing through the entrance to see her again, I wonder, Is there even one of us for every one person in these lines?
“You can use my card. There’s also a free—”
“No thanks, Dad,” I say, building my best ‘good girl’ face. “I need a job more than ever.”