Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Dilemma at Panera Bread

In order to save gas, I drove Steph to work and then I came to Panera -- I mean, we have two cars, and I could've stayed home easily, but you see, we're meeting up with friends for dinner close to where Steph works and instead of driving two cars, well, you get the picture..

I dropped Steph off and came over to Panera (or as I call it "Panda-Bear-a"), ordered a Frozen Caramel and sat down to bathe myself in their free Internet (screw you, Starbucks and McDonalds! It's like charging for air...). I powered up and began working with Windows Live Mail, updating mail and such, when I began to feel the sudden urge to...poop.

I had coffee this morning, so much, in fact, that I should've seen this coming. Then I order a frozen coffee beverage...I mean seriously. I might as well have sat on top of an active volcano. I began sipping my beverage, and then the prairie dog poked me.

I thought to myself, "I can hold this..."

But the Panda-Bear-a started getting busy. And on the opening website, it says to stay only 30 minutes if Panda-Bear-a is busy. I started to feel guilty. I didn't have a sandwich. No soup. Not even a crust of bread. Just a half-finished beverage and here I was hogging a four-person table. The Catholic guilt sunk in, and strong. And the urge to poop was even stronger.

I gathered up my wires, my computer, my wireless mouse and stuffed it into my computer bag. I ran, screaming, to the bathroom, hitting other customers in the head with my bags, and was happy to see the bathroom stall open and practically clean (minus the toilet paper that gathered on the floor, probably used as a toilet seat cover).

Now, I had gathered everything up and decided (while in the stall) it would look weird and paranoid if I sat back down at my table. I mean, who actually takes their whole computer work station to the restaurant bathroom with them?

Minus myself, of couse.

But who?

Nobody wants to steal my laptop. It's four-years-old and constantly tells me I have 46 out of 200 megs of RAM available and that I should delete a bunch of programs (OK, not anymore...I fixed that). I could have left it at the table, but of course, I figured I should give up my table even though I was only there for about 15 minutes.

So I over-reacted (which isn't rare, it's pretty much my middle name), left Panera and drove to the library close by. I find a spot at the library and decide I can work again, when, I turn on my laptop and, to my unsurprise, the library doesn't have wireless. I shove everything back into the bag and walk out, realizing that I have to go back to Panera. At this point, I've drank all my Frozen Caramel, because drinks aren't allowed in libraries.

I get back to the Panera parking lot, park in the spot next to the one I gave up, and walk back into the restaurant with my empty cup, go back to the table I was sitting at and, luckily, the people I was sandwiched between were still there working. They didn't seem to care. I left in such a rush, that I'm a business person, in their eyes, and I had to go to the bank...

I was already to tell that lie, something like: "Haha...I realized I really needed to go to the bank."

But the man across from my table, nestled in a booth, was new. He gave me a dirty look, like I came in with an empty cup from a week ago so I didn't have to buy anything, just so I could use the free Internet. Then I really wanted to stand up and proclaim: "I was just here! You can ask this man to my right and these two women wearing white socks with their Crocs!"

But I remained silent instead, and got back to work.