Joni Evers curls her feet up to balance on the wooden seat of an old metal stool. She leans forward, resting her elbows on the workbench and scribbles numbers into a spreadsheet detailing parts, order numbers, and invoices. The jangle of the Auto Shop’s bell disrupts Joni’s emerging state of zen.

“I’m closed,” Joni says.

“Uh… Ms. Evers?” The voice is so sheepish, Joni can barely make out the words.

With a sigh, Joni dismounts her stool. A scrawny teenage boy waits just inside the threshold of the shop, as if he’s afraid any further movements will be taken as trespassing. “I said I’m closed.” Joni meets the boy where he stands. “Something I can help you with?”

“Um, yes actually, maybe.” Joni’s eyes draw downward to the pieces of paper the boy clutches at his chest.

“Looking for a job?”

The boy’s eyes light up. “Yes!”

“I’m not hiring.”

And then his posture deflates. “Oh.” He straightens again in what Joni supposes might be one of the few acts of defiance this kid has ever mustered. She feels bad for him, because it’s not personal. Not with him, at least. “I really think I can add to your operation here, Ms. Evers. I’ve been taking classes in school, and my dad’s been teaching me stuff since I was little. Might not look like it, but I’m good with cars.”

Joni lets the boy finish before bringing the hammer down again. “I’m not hiring. Nothing personal, kid, but I work better alone.”