The 99 Percent: Morning coffee, Summit County 7-11

After refilling the half-dozen coffee pots, Joaquin pulls his beanie down over his ears and heads outside to scrape an inch of fresh snow off the sidewalk in front of our neighborhood 7-11.

“It’s cold,” he says, rubbing his hands and zipping up his fleece.

I tell him that it’s about to get much colder — Summit County is known for brutal November weather, when icy winds drive sheets of needle-like flakes across the land. I can see that Joaquin, a recent immigrant from Senegal, doesn’t really have a good sense yet of what winter will be like in the Colorado high country.

99 percent jpgLife here isn’t all gingerbread chalets. We live in a brick townhome in the gritty part of Frisco, just off Tenmile Drive, where you won’t find any souvenir shops. Instead, there’s a plumbing supply shop, the Sherwin-Williams paint store, NAPA and a windshield repair place. Just across Lagoon Drive, the town’s maintenance yard rumbles to life each morning with big bursts of steam issuing from the chimney, and from our kitchen window, we can see the gridded wires at the XCel substation.

We love our neighborhood. Nothing against tourists — they help pay the rent — but it’s nice to be at least a few blocks away from the constant stream of window-shoppers.

And we love being right next door to the 7-11. Along with being able to easily satisfy a case of the late-night munchies, it’s a great place to watch the real Summit County come to life each morning, and it’s probably one of the most multicultural spots in the community, with clerks from Russia and Lithuania serving customers from Mexico, Ecuador and who knows where else.

This morning, Debra, from Jamaica, handles the cash register, as plumbers, painters, electricians, dry-wallers and roofers stream in and out, chattering mostly in Spanish, filling up their canteens with coffee and snagging three-for-a-dollar taquitos and pizza slices from the heated display case.

Joaquin comes back inside and pours himself a cup of coffee as the morning rush winds down. Ski season may be starting in Summit County, but we’ll be keeping it real down at the 7-11.

[ Image: Emilia, from Guatemala, helps fuel Summit County with coffee at the Frisco 7-11, by Bob Berwyn. ]