Noah sat inside the sub shop, waiting for his ride. He looked out to the street, anticipating his new coworker’s red sedan pulling up to the curb. It was four in the morning and the street was empty.

Noah lived on 23rd floor of the apartment building adjacent to the sub shop. He was good friends with the owner and had made the arrangement to wait for his morning ride inside the sub shop.

New job. New coworkers. So far, things weren’t going that well. Noah had been late twice in his first three weeks. Extremely late. On account of blowing a tire the first time and having his car break down and die on him the second.

Their shift started at four-thirty and the commute was about 20 minutes. Noah started to worry. This was the first time he had asked for a ride.

A text from his coworker. Coming. Be there in five minutes.

Noah had taken the light rail last week, but the nearest stop was still a 15 minute walk to his workplace. His shift was so early, he didn’t like having to give up that extra quarter hour of sleep.

10 minutes after four. Dang. Where was his ride?

Noah checked the light rail times. It’d just left his stop. Wouldn’t be back for another 30 minutes.

He texted his ride. Where are you?

No response.

Late three times in his first month. He would be fired for sure.

Four twenty-two and no red sedan. Noah called an Uber.

Arriving at work at 15 minutes before five, Noah walked through the shop doors. He was greeted with a termination slip from the production manager.

Noah surveyed the shop floor, spotting the no-show coworker. He was working on a weld, busily, mask on and head down.

Emblazoned on the sign above Noah’s head was the company’s cheesy, corporate motto: We’ve always got each other’s backs.

Noah thought about explaining the no-show ride to his manager, but he knew it wouldn’t help. One of the company’s core values was personal responsibility. There’d be no sympathy if he blamed his lateness on anybody other than himself.

“I don’t think the guys on the line really liked me anyways,” Noah said to his now ex-manager who nodded. He nodded in neither an affirmative nor a negative manner. Nothing mattered besides the work that had to be done. At least, not at this shop.

Noah turned around slowly, then quickly walked out the doors. He’d never been fired before.

Maybe he could get a job at the sub shop.