Opening the store as she did every morning, Moira had scooped a few spoonfuls of coffee into a filter before she noticed the notice, taped neatly to the front of the shelf.
“To: All BirdLand™ Employees (Including Management)
For: CUSTOMERS ONLY!!!!!
She pressed the brew button and spent more than a minute making sense of the sign before ripping it away. The owner didn’t speak to her often, choosing instead to communicate in these passive aggressive telegraphs. This was fine. He could make whatever edict he wanted, but Moira was the one running the store, and she couldn’t do that without first a cup of coffee.
All of her staff came a few minutes late, and she had to remind them that she was required to give them all demerits, though she wouldn’t. “But please, be on time. I know we don’t get customers this early, but it’s still important.”
She hated scolding these kids, because they weren’t kids. They were in their twenties. Some were even in their thirties, older than herself. They were only late because they didn’t want to come to work. She understood. The feather caps were but the smallest of their daily humiliations.
“You know what? Let’s not wear the plumages today,” she said, and she waited for them to understand. “Don’t follow your sentences with birdcalls either. In fact, let’s be human beings today.”
They seemed confused, but she urged and assured them. “Just relax.”
“She said take off your hats! F—weewweet!”
As they set up displays and checked inventory, she poured herself a cup of coffee. On her computer, she opened a new document and started typing.
“Coffee for management and customers only”