That. Has got to be. The worst fucking job in the known universe.
You mean at least people who do things like sort out septic tanks get paid a decent wage and after like seventy Silkwood-style showers probably even get to have interpersonal relationships. The fucker who twirls the signs on the little anemic grassy median by the entry to the strip mall? That guy is not racking up pension benefits.
You drive past him twice a day. That means he's there the whole fucking eight hours you spend at this hilarious wreck of a computer store.
Sometimes out the windows of the store you see someone come up to him, give him something. You hope it's a big fucking thing of iced Gatorade because it is ninety-nine point five out there at ten AM and he is never not moving.
You wonder: is he really that much of a fuckup that this is the only job he can fucking land?
After two weeks you pull off in the goddamn strip mall entry and put on your blinkers. The guy behind you honks and gestures, but drives round; the kid in the shades waving the 60 % Markdown All Mattresses sign glances over, stops twirling said sign, and approaches.
Fuck, he's pretty. You weren't expecting that. He's....really pretty. From a distance you'd only been able to tell he was slender and blond and wore gigantic fucking sunglasses, for the which you do not blame him, it is bright as fuck out here. But god, he has very good lips, flushed with heat, and the bits of his face you can see make you want to see more.
"Help you?" he says. There's Texas in there.
"Yeah," you say. "What's your name?"
He lets go of your window and backs away. Behind you, some asshole honks, and another asshole, spurred on by the first, and you think: fuck, never mind, and drive on.
Three days later it is a particularly foul fucking afternoon. You've been dicking around with the innards of a computer that honestly by all rights should be taken out back and shot, but its owner steadfastly refuses to countenance buying a new one, so you're stuck every month or two trying to make old hardware less inefficient. You've already installed as much extra memory as this fucker can handle and your client refuses to do anything like, oh, you don't know, UPGRADE, so you're stuck with what you can do for heatsinks. Your iPad warbles to let you know there's a game starting in half an hour: right, fuck, you have to take the other way back into town, escape the herd of asshole sports fans cluttering up the freeway.
You pick it up and stare. Shit, it's still 107 outside?
Looking over the top of the iPad you can see through the store's gross windows to the little grassy median in the entryway where that blond kid stands waving his sign. He's there. He...fuck, even as you watch he's sort of leaning back against the broiling steel of the main strip-mall sign.
You may have to spend your days doing stupid shit you hate but that does not make you an unperson, and you go back to the little fridge where you stick your Monster and Gatorade and you hook out a bottle of lime-flavored Gatorade Rain and you put up the I WILL BE BACK PLEASE BE PATIENT sign and you push open the door and the bell goes dingle and the heat fucking hits you like a plastic bag to the face. Fuck, this state is not meant to be lived in by human beings for like eight months out of the twelve.
By the time you make it from your shop to the little median strip where the dude is still twirling his sign, exhaustedly, your shirt prickles with sweat over the shoulders and a little awkward drop is working its way down your spine. When you get close enough you can see he's sunburnt, shit, that pale hair must mean he's got some kind of pigment fuckup thing, shit, that'd explain the sunglasses even on cloudy days, and they have him doing this?
"Hey," you say, holding out the cold bottle of Gatorade. Fat drops of moisture have already condensed on its surface. "You look like you could use this."
He jerks and twists to stare at you, and you can't tell what his eyes are doing.
"Seriously, dude. It's hot as fuck and you are standing right in the sun, okay, just...just fucking take it."
He stares a moment longer and then reaches for the bottle, rolls its coolness across his forehead, and wrenches it open. Most of it's gone in two or three vast swallows and he pauses, gasping, and burps enormously, then goes back to drinking.
"...thanks," he says, panting, the bottle empty in his hand. "Fuck. Uh. Thanks."
"I'm Sollux," you say, idiotically.
"Dave Strider." He sways a little, catches himself against the broiling-hot sign, hisses.
"Do they really make you stand out here all day?"
"Yuh." He blinks down at the bottle, then at you: you reach out to take it back, and he picks up his sign again. "Minimum wage, but hey."
"Can you take breaks? I'm, like. Pretty sure that's illegal if you can't."
"Oh, fuck, we're all beyond legal, you should know that," he says, and waves his sign. MATTRESS DISCOUNT WAREHOUSE, it says. CRAZY SALES!!!
"Then fuck legal, and, like, come be in the air conditioning for a couple minutes, dude. Seriously. This is no weather for bullshit like discount mattresses."
Dave Strider waves his sign again, halfheartedly. "I can't. I'll get written up."
"You know anything about computers?"
"Yeah," he says guardedly.
"Like how to fix them when people do shit like randomly download stupid obvious viruses and/or can't work out how to install printer drivers?"
He groans. "There should be an eleventh commandment. Never tell your aunties you know computers."
"Word. But we could use another guy who knows computers. I work over there." You jerk a thumb over your shoulder. Big, pearly sweat drops are already beading at his temples: it's only midday, the heat is going to get a fuckton worse before he's done his shift. "Skaia Computing. It's shit work, cleaning the dust bunnies out of granny's tower, sucking viruses out of facebook duckface girls' laptops, but it's indoors and they pay min wage."
Just then a car pulls up beside the two of you and some douchetard cackles and tosses an empty Red Bull can: despite Strider's instinctive wince it bonks off his shoulder.
"Fuck," he says, so tired. "Take me to your leader."
"Best goddamn thing you've said today."