First day on the job and the only work shirt that fits Mohammad has “Bob” embroidered above his heart. Buttoning up the dark blue oxford, Mohammad jokes about how easy it is to spell. His first customer, a tiny old woman needing new windshield wipers, calls him “Bob” twice before Mohammad remembers she’s talking to him. By the end of the day, Mohammad has let his inner Bob in — a jovial neighbor ready to jump start your car on an icy morning, or a best bro to share a beer after another fight with your wife. The customers are eating him up. No one in his family would recognize the man standing behind the counter, cradling a phone on his shoulder, ringing up a sale, waving at the boss watching from behind his island of a desk. Each morning the bell jingles as Bob steps in, confident and crisp in his navy shirt, while Mohammad waits on the sidewalk for Bob’s shift to end.
Phebe Jewell’s work appears or is forthcoming in MoonPark Review, Pithead Chapel, Flash Boulevard, Milk Candy Review, Drunk Monkeys, SoFloPoJo, and elsewhere. A Seattle teacher, find her at https://phebejewellwrites.com.