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The first but not last time coffee shop minutiae would make newspaper headlines. This strip predates the larger cultural brain poisoning of equating real life struggle with Harry Potter. But maybe it doesn't - these young people are venturing into danger free of charge for their company, after all. Are their lives not already shaped by neoliberal fiction?
I got the premise for this story from a barista friend whose coffee shop was warring with another, with similar idea theft and covert training missions. It's strange looking back how all of the characters ended up sticking in the comic, and searching for value beyond their jobs. At this point their jobs WERE the value in their lives because an exciting, dangerous, libidinal culture surrounded it. It's possible I felt the same way about work.