Snoke is on vacation again, because they have the literal worst manager in the galaxy. The general perception is that he's probably a malevolent being of some sort — the morning crew, in particular, seem to view him as straight-up evil. But then, they have to work with him more often. One of the many nice things about closing shifts, in Ren's opinion, is the relative lack of managerial oversight.
The problem with Snoke being on vacation is that they're currently short on shift supervisors. There's Snoke, there's Poe, and there's Phazzy — and that's it. That's normally fine for their level of business, but with Snoke gone it's throwing the whole game off. So they've got a rotating cast of borrowed shifts for the next week, and none of them will know what they're doing and all of them will be terrible.
Ren has been told he can be a little melodramatic. This is a lie. Ren has a dramatic soul. It's part of his charm.
The borrowed shift — Susan? — squints at the schedule. "Which one of you is Benjamin?" she asks.
Behind him, Hux snorts.
"It's Ren, actually," Ren says.
"Ren," he says again, slowly, enunciating it clearly. "I go by Ren."
Susan looks unimpressed, but quickly plasters on a smile. "Okay, Ren. Good to meet you! Are you the regular closer? I haven't worked at this store before, so you might have to walk me through it."
Ren sighs internally, but does his best to put a smile on his own face. He can feel it twitching at the corners. "We're not very busy at night, even on weekends, so it shouldn't be too hard for you. And we've got that one —" He hooks a thumb over his shoulder toward the bar "— until 5:30."
"Hi!" Hux calls. Ren can feel his smile. It's a slimy, unpleasant feeling. He's put on his talking-to-customers voice. He's probably waving. What an asshole. "I'm Bren."
Susan's smile brightens. "Ren and Bren? That's so cute. You two must be quite a team."
Ren breathes in, one two three; out, one two three. "Quite a team," he says through gritted teeth.
If Susan notices, she wisely doesn't say anything.
The phone rings. Ren is closest, so he picks it up with a sigh. It's going to be some moron who can't use the internet asking when they're open ‘till, he just knows it.
"Thanks for calling Starbucks Republic. This is Ren. How can I help you?"
He can see Hux laughing at him from on the bar, like it's somehow humorous that Ren answers the phone like a civilized human being.
"Eight o'clock tonight. Yes, thank you."
He hangs up. It's going to be one of those nights.
The shift progresses. Nothing exciting happens, aside from Hux being an ass — and that's not really exciting so much as a sort of depressing status quo — and honestly, Ren likes it that way.
There are pros and cons to working at a small neighborhood store like this, but especially during the summer, the slower speed is a definite pro. School's out for the kids, so there's no mad after-school Frappuccino rush, just a general ebb and flow of people. With the sun out, most people don't seem to be in too much of a hurry; they're content to get their iced coffees and go about their days. And school's out for Ren, too: nothing to do but work and write his novel.
Being slow affords him plenty of time to do both. He can't keep his notebook on him on the floor, unfortunately, so his apron pockets are stuffed with ideas and notes jotted down on bits of receipt tape. These frantic scribbles are no real substitute for proper writing, but at least the slow pace affords him plenty of time to daydream.
His breaks, of course, are dedicated to getting real work done.
"I'm going to write a scathing critique of coffeeshop culture," he tells Hux, "and you will be the villain."
Hux raises an eyebrow. "You will do no such thing," he says, and starts steaming milk. It's very loud, from where Ren is sitting at the counter next to the bar. It's very rude, and very final, and Hux is probably doing it wrong anyway.
"Grande white chocolate mocha," Hux calls out, putting the drink down on the hand-off plane.
Ren glares at the espresso machine, and chews on the end of his pen.
"Ren," Hux says, almost pityingly, "You don't need to watch me. I know how to do my job."
It's without much fervor that Ren says, "fuck you." He gnaws on his pen some more before flipping to a fresh page in his notebook.
Brad scowled at him. He slammed his beer down on the countertop. "Get out of here," he said loudly.
Matt scowled back. "I go where I want," he said. "I've been coming to this bar longer than you have. You get out."
"Yeah," the red-headed man shot back. "And everyone's sick of your face."
Matt couldn't understand how anyone could be sick of his face. He knew Brad had to be lying. Matt's face was super handsome and dramatic, especially with the dramatic scar bisecting it. He got all the girls, and he knew Brad couldn't get any. Probably Brad was gay.
"What do you know, anyway?" Matt said. He scowled some more.
"More than you," Brad said. He sounded very sure of himself.
Matt grew tired of this repartee. He plotted his next move.