CONVERSATIONS. tipless jobs, little apartments, frozen yogurt.

How's your day going?
I asked the 20ish fellow, alone behind the register as I paid $4.10 for me and my son's frozen, non-topping-ed yogurt.

(him: Dutch chocolate, banana. me: New York cheesecake, after sampling every other kind generously.)

he said, smiling big.
I'm only working one job today. It's like my day off!

I said.
So what kind of hours do you work?

he said.
I'm here nine to five. And I work over there -
(he gestured to the next building over in the plaza)
- when I get off here until 11.

He grinned.
Plus, I live out in Hillsboro, so that's a 50-minute drive.

That's some hours.
I said, stating the obvious.
So...any light at the end of the tunnel? Are you...in school? Saving for anything in particular...?

No man,
he said.
I'm paying off my car, and I'm moving in with my girlfriend. So, I'm moving into a bigger apartment. That's progress, right?! That's the way it goes, you know: workin' my way up to a bigger apartment.

I just shook my head.
That's a lotta hours, man! I hope you get a chance to slow down a little soon.

He smiled big and gestured around.
I'm serious man, this is like my day off! Usually I come in and I got so much I gotta do and all kinds of stuff I gotta be thinking about, but I came in today and I got to make some cookies, catch up on some stuff, just have some fun getting things ready here. I'm good! I don't even know what free time is at home anymore!

He noticed me looking around.
Whatcha looking for?

Is there a...tip jar?
I asked.

No man,
he said.
There used to be up until a few months ago. But there was something with the second shift...I don't know, I just know we don't have one anymore. But thanks anyway!

Sure thing,
I said.

And then with a quieting finger to his lips, he asked if me and my son wanted a complementary freshly baked cookie. I have a policy to never turn down cookies.

We waved, and left to yogurt-dine outdoors. May good things and a little free time be in his future.

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