The Stipend

The alarm went off at four thirty in the morning. Mike had to get up this early because he was scheduled to open the store. Not much sleep because he had to close the night before. It was the first week of January in the year twenty seventeen. It was twelve degrees below zero, dark, and a quarter inch of solid ice coated Mike's car.

Mike stared out the window overlooking the frozen parking lot with a hot cup of coffee. He was going to be late. He worked in the lumber department of a home improvement store. He only the week before was on the night crew unloading trucks and stocking shelves. His pay went up thirty five cents to around eight dollars per hour. 

Mike was about to put down his full cup of coffee and race to get dressed when something dawned on him. Some strange intuition drove him to his computer. He was getting direct deposit from work and was so fully conditioned to live within his means that his debit card hadn't been declined for over a month. Mike had to check his balance.

There were deposits from the United States Treasury for twenty four hundred dollars in addition to his meager six hundred and fifty two dollar paycheck. At first he thought it was tax related but the summary description said 'stipend.'

"What the Hell is a stipend?" he muttered aloud. He Googled it, then immediately left a voice-mail on his supervisor's phone to say he was never coming back to that shit-stain of a job ever again. He didn't have to, and that day neither did anyone else who hated their jobs in America, because the Sanders administration gave every citizen a national basic income equal to fifteen dollars per hour at a full-time job. Mike's supervisor never heard the voice-mail. He didn't have to anymore either.