It’s 3am in Sterling, CO and the Eagle Travel Stop gas station is packed. Outside temperature is hovering around zero, maybe just under it.
Windshields are frozen. The cars sit idling outside while the workers are inside filling up their thermos and grabbing gut bomb burritos. Like other wage laborers doing infrastructure everywhere across the nation, the 9001 gang are at the gas station getting their breakfast many hours before the rest of the community wakes up.
Did you know how many biscuits and gravy they pump out at that hour of the night? Before this shoot, I had never seen a gallon of milk sitting on the counter. This the second one of the morning says the service clerk, who could not keep up with the refills.
What I noticed about gas station coffee is it is crucial. More than water. More than a candy bar. For most, it is the least expensive and fastest option for liquid. And it boosts the body with much needed caffeine on the worst of the swing shifts.
We grab some great shots of the early morning rush and head for the jobsite. We jump in the car with the new hire. He is young in the game and doesn’t drink coffee. But he knows enough to buy all his food here before he’s on the jobsite.
Nothing is open at this hour. Gas station coffee is pumping through all our veins. No doughnut shops, $5 cup of Starbucks, or barista to write names on holiday cups. It’s the American gas stations that are fueling workers’ bodies.