On a Monday at 2:50 P.M., a young professional files his weekly unemployment paperwork from a hip coffee shop.
The coffee shop is on a street where, until 3 years ago, the only Mocha on the menu was an affable sex-worker. On its left sits a park, which will soon be an apartment complex. On its right sits a dilapidated parking lot, which will soon be a Millennial Affirmation Zone.
The coffee shop has sleek architecture with exposed brick and polished wooden surfaces. The millennial has on a short sleeve, loose fitting shirt that is not quite Hawaiian but certainly flirting with the big island. All the employees of the coffee shop have thick framed glasses and master’s degrees.
As he sips his chai, he types away the “work contacts” he made this week:
He indicates that yes, he was physically able to work during that week, seeing as he did a Crossfit workout in the park that will soon be an apartment. He also indicates that no, he did not receive a severance or a pension payment during this week—the form does not ask if he received an “allowance from his parents.”
The moment he finishes his online form, a woman he met on Bumble Gchats him, “How is funemployment?” He replies, “Staycation AF – bout to start happy hour,” as he wonders if he would rather see what she’s doing tonight, or get blazed and watch a 30 for 30 documentary.
Every day at 6 P.M., this coffee shop turns into a bar. Every week on Tuesdays, he receives $251 from a city that he describes as “drab and temporary-feeling.” Today, at this coffee shop, he purchased one vegan bowl (now that he is unemployed, he has the time and the emotional bandwidth to try a new lifestyle); one chai latte (because these forms are pretty complicated and he finds chai soothing); one double espresso shot (because he is on his grind); one craft beer he demanded be “local” (so he can keep up with beer discussions at networking events); and one Tiki vodka cocktail (because “it’s the end of summer”). His bill totaled $76. The avocado tattoo he is planning on getting that weekend will have to be charged to credit.
Why is he unemployed? Well, his boss was “out of touch, and just didn’t get Snapchat.” So when she somehow saw his Snapstory, the in one which he was rolling a spliff and talking about how the problem of food deserts would be solved if there were chiller people, and thus more Whole Foods, she did them both a favor in asking him to “leave now and never ask for a recommendation.” And because he had the patience to get fired, and not just quit, he receives a little something extra while he looks for his next move.
Yes, a blessing in disguise; because this way, he has the time to focus on something he really loves: like his friends do.
Stephanie, from behind the counter, is working on “Barista Review”—a Medium post about finding yourself in the wake of rejection from law school, which is socially meaningful, and his best boy from college is working on a script called “I’m With, Her,” a sci-fi romance centered on a fictitious Donald Trump who is privately in love with Hillary Clinton, who is actually just a digital entity struggling to be capable of human emotion. His boy is edits away from talks with Alec Baldwin.
But what does he really love? When he meditates, his mind often rests on two things: social media and Spikeball. There has to be a business in combining them.
Sure, he feels bad about his privilege—unemployment is much different for some of the people loitering on the corners of his neighborhood than it is for him. But he is in touch, he always says, “Whaddup brother?” to those guys, who will either nod or not nod in response.
He knows how to connect with people—he plans on buying Mocha, the sex-worker, a latte, in addition to giving her a pep talk that includes praise for sex positivity and entrepreneurship, but will also eventually end with them watching Brene Brown’s vulnerability TED Talk together.
He is sad the park next to the coffee shop will be gone because he will have to find a new place to meditate, but stoked his friend who grows her own spinach will be moving into that apartment, which he heard will have a pool. Lastly, he is more than thrilled about the Millennial Affirmation Zone that is popping up by the fall, because not only will it be good and healthy for the neighborhood, but there, he will find the only thing his parents’ money can’t buy.
Just as he is about to close his Macbook and prepare for a vacation with those parents, he gets a Politico push notification—the unemployment rate in America has just increased.
Oh, he knows.