*This is a post I wrote for The Red Dress Club.
The alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. and I groan as I sit up in the dark. Around me my high school girl friends lay sleeping where they will most likely stay until around nine or ten on this Saturday morning. But me, I'm up, dressed and driving in my dad's hand-me-down Camaro to be there when the donut truck arrives at Spencer's Short Stop promptly at 5:30 a.m. Mr. Spencer is a retired school teacher and baseball coach in this sleepy Oklahoma town who realized his dream of being a small business owner when he opened a gas station / donut shop on the main street in town. Each morning the Dunkin Donuts truck arrives with fresh donuts on plastic yellow trays that we display in a corner of the store. There is a small counter with barely enough room for a cash register and six plastic booths in front of the window overlooking the parking lot of gas pumps.
I put the trays away in their proper places and begin to make the coffee. The first customer is always Walt Guthrie. He pulls up in his old pick-up truck before the doors open at 6 a.m. and I usually let him in early so he can settle in with his coffee and newspaper. We sit there together, the elderly man and the high school girl and watch the sun rise over the flat Oklahoma land. Although I'm only seventeen years old I feel like I have an adult's appreciation of the reds, oranges and yellows that slowly creep over the sky bringing another day. I love the quiet and the anticipation of the sunrise. It is my favorite part of every Saturday.
As dawn gives way to morning the street begins to come alive with dads in mini-vans coming to get Saturday morning breakfast for their families, moms grabbing a quick bite on their way to the grocery store and cars of children yelling from the backseats, "I want a glazed! No, a bear claw!" The hometown heroes of last night's Friday night football game stop by for a half dozen donuts each on their way to watch the film of last night's game and to work on the game plan for next week's rival. These sleepy boys caught between adulthood and childhood with the bodies of men but the easy smiles of children are my childhood friends. I cannot fathom that one day they will be husbands and fathers. I can't imagine that I will be anything other than a daughter, cheerleader, student, friend.
I pop a few donut holes in my mouth between customers but rarely do I eat more than a few during my shift. I'm like the kid in the candy shop who has eaten so much candy that it's no longer a treat. I fill Mr. Walt's cup for the third time and chat with the other familiar faces who come and go on this fall morning in America's heartland never knowing that these memories will remain with me for the rest of my life. That these seemingly innocent mornings spent trying to earn a little bit of spending money are shaping a young girl on the precipice of life.