Today I had a late lunch at Panera Bread, and decided to “live blog” the experience. If it turns out OK, maybe I’ll do the same with other not-so-special events? We’ll see how it goes.
Please note that I arrived at Panera around 2:20 in the afternoon. They don’t like people hanging around in there with their laptops, between 11:00 and 2:00. I respect their wishes, and don’t do it. By 2:20 more than half the tables were empty, so I could set up my little command center without causing problems for anyone.
The rest of this update was written inside the restaurant itself. I had lunch, took advantage of the free WiFi, observed, and typed my thoughts. Hopefully there’s some entertainment value buried in here somewhere?
Before I arrived at Panera, I went into Wal-Mart to buy contact lens solution. It’s the only reason I ever go to that horrible place, and usually try to do it in the middle of the night, while on my way home from work. But I ran out of the stuff this morning, and decided to bite the bullet in broad daylight.
Yeah, and I saw an old man there – probably 65 years old – buying condoms. I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep my lunch down. I’m imagining the various scenarios where a muddy-booted old bastard like that would be purchasing a box of Trojans the size of a cigarette carton, and all of them trigger a full-body shiver. Wonder if there’s a dungeon involved? And teenage runaways?
I had to urinate like Man o’ War, and headed straight to the bathroom before ordering. And when I was halfway back to the cash register, I noticed my pen was gone. I’d put it in my right pocket, which… has a hole in it. Dammit! It was a good pen, so I went looking for it. It was on the bathroom floor. Some other guy had been in there peeing into the toilet – full blast straight into the water – but had apparently not noticed the thing, or ignored it.
Blecch. I didn’t really want to pick it up, but also didn’t want to forfeit it. So, I pulled off a section of paper towels, and scrubbed my pen down. I decided Panera probably doesn’t attract too many floor pissers. If it had been, say, Burger King, I would’ve had to bid farewell to my cherished writing instrument… But I put my faith in the more sophisticated clientele of Panera. Am I misguided?
The woman in front of me ordered an apple with her lunch, instead of chips. I don’t trust such actions. I believe that people who go apple over chips are doing it for everyone else’s benefit. I think they’re full of shit, and are committing side item fraud.
An apple?! Am I Man o’ War, after all? Can I stomp my foot for a sugar cube, too?
I ordered the Smoked Ham and Swiss sandwich on rye, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. The cashier asked if I wanted mayonnaise or mustard, and clearly didn’t approve when I said no. I wouldn’t have minded a little mustard, but there’s always way too much of it. Even when I say VERY LIGHT mustard, they put it on with a ladle. So, I go without.
Last time I was here they strong-armed me into signing up for a club card. The woman today asked if I had it with me, I said, “Oh, yeah!” and handed it to her. And I got a free cookie added on. Excellent. The thing is huge. I’ll be eating the shit out of it later.
Even with the price of the giant cookie taken away, my lunch still cost $8.25. It feels like a lot. But it’s a firewall that keeps the floor pissers away. Right? Money well-spent.
FYI — Whenever I overhear someone order a baguette, I change it to faguette inside my head. Then I chuckle, like a 6th grader. Yes, I’m 50 years old. What of it?
I feel like my crack is showing. I wish they had the kind of chairs here where the back goes all the way to the ass platform. Unfortunately, there’s an opening, which frames – exactly – the high crack region. Hopefully it’s just my imagination, but I think I just felt a breeze. I’m going to stand up, adjust my pants, and sit back down. Everybody will know what I’m doing, but it’s better than the alternative. …There, it’s done. No applause, but maybe someone will come over and thank me, discretely?
If I owned a restaurant, I’d insist on chairs with backs that go all the way down. For us men of size, it takes away a lot of the pressure. Ya know?
Some guy just came in wearing a shirt with an elastic band at the bottom. A good look. Elastic at the bottom, whether it’s shirts or pants, is always the way to go. Sweet sainted mother of Pat Harrington!
Holy crap, this sandwich is good. The bread is fantastic, and everything tastes so fresh. How come sandwiches at home never taste like this? Even when I have all the same ingredients, it’s not nearly as good. Why? Can anyone help me out with it? I need closure.
I think I might’ve eaten one of the little flags that go on top of the toothpick. You know, those blue or red cellophane situations? One is missing, and there’s a good chance it’s in my stomach right now. Oh well. It’s not the worst thing I’ve eaten, not by a longshot.
The man behind me is POUNDING on his computer keyboard. Dude, ease back on it; the thing is about to start flying apart. And if I’m hit by Toshiba shrapnel, there’s going to be trouble.
A woman sitting at two o’clock just blew her nose with one of these natural-colored napkins. The thing went dark, and I had to look away. Are you supposed to blow your nose in a restaurant? I’m unclear on it. It feels like the answer should be no, but I can’t remember anyone ever commenting on it. What do you think? It’s pretty gross, when you stop to think about what’s happening.
That sandwich was freaking fantastic. I want to come back here every day, for the rest of my life. Now the free cookie… Wow, it’s thick. It tastes good, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to eat the whole thing. There’s a lot of volume here. Ha! Who am I fooling? It’s as good as gone.
And I hope you’ve enjoyed this live-blogging not-so-special event. Next time maybe I’ll do it from the dive bar? Heh. That would be interesting. I’d probably get my ass kicked.
Have a great day, my friends!
I’ll see you next time.
Now playing in the bunker
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The Qweezy Mark says
It’s the extra sodium that makes food out taste so good.
Joe T. says
Your theory about lunch price and the crowd it brings is a good one. Also, they’re a little light on kid meals so the thrify folks have to take their little booger machines down the street where there’s a dollar menu and a ball pit.
Which they”ll promptly lose their Pull-Up in.
Talk about your full-body shiver.
T. Farty McAppleass says
The lovely Tiff.
Gentlemen’s Club next time, please.
WB in OH says
A pre-recorded, live blog.
Piss splatters out of those urinals no matter how much a sandwich costs. PISS PEN, PISS PEN!!
Jeff Bauer says
The urinal piss splatter quotient, aka UPSQ, is generally inversely proportionate to the number of faguettes sold that day. But of course there’s nothing to prevent some faguette chomping piss squatter from getting off the throne, leaving the stall, and furiously shake the dew off his lily right where that pen landed.
Joe T. says
Live blog an Eninen visit whydoncha?
I really like the play by play thing, btw.
Cynical Bastard says
I totally agree about the prices being a firewall against the dredges of society. It’s amazing how a dollar or two will keep out the grungiest and nastiest of society, and is totally worth it.
That’s why I shop at Costco. Sure, you gotta pay fifty bucks a year to shop there, but at least you don’t have to deal with the people at Wal-Mart. Or…(shivers)…free day at Sam’s Club.
Joey Jo Jo says
Dude. Let the pen go next time. That’s some Eninen-level “frugality”
It’s a $10 pen, not a 25 cent Bic. It was outside the splatter radius of the urinal, so I think I was fairly safe.
Jeff Bauer says
Somewhere in the greater Scranton area, there’s a CEO saying to his wife:
“That’s the very last time I stoop so low as to grab a quick lunch at such a low-rent place as Panera. Believe it or not, there was a guy in the restroom who apparently had dropped his cheap, $10 pen in the urinal, had retrieved it, and was washing it off in the sink.”
Panera’s not bad. The live blog is pretty good too. However: as a general rule, the better the establishment, the less likely you are to see something interesting.
Costco is good, but I have learned what (not) to buy. Food products are not a good value if you end up throwing half of it away because it went bad before you could finish it. Although the beef really is excellent.
Ozzie Bucco says
I’ve noticed that whenever I have a sandwich that has been held together with toothpicks, there is always a missing streamer on the toothpick.
I wonder if I’ve eaten a bunch of them in my lifetime.
Lee Harvey Ramone says
Lester Bangs says
I was in a band called Toshiba Shrapnel in high school. We played a lot of Vibrators covers.
Unless it is an absolute emergency, I agree with you on the question of whether or not to blow one’s nose while others are eating! Don’t do it! But if you have to, apologize profusely to everyone around you, then promptly go wash your hands!
Jeff Bauer says
“…and I saw an old man there – probably 65 years old – …”
In time, you’ll pay for that snipe.
Nosey, jealous, or both? Remember that creative visualization isn’t that much of a stretch from voyeurism.
I was raised by a Miss Manners Momma and she set it straight to me years ago. A lady dosent groom herself at the table. That includes hair brushing and lipstick application. Blow your nose!!! Good God off the chart! Man or woman must excuse themselves and go to the restroom. Mom didn’t talk like that but you can see it made a lasting impression.
I vote for more remote blogging. I love people watching and Jeffs interpretation of what he sees is great!!
Absotively!! This is a “must do” again! Great update!
I love Panera but was very disappointed…and pissed…with the last visit. I ordred take out…two sandwiches with the sides, soup, and a couple of those to-die-for shortbread cookies. It was over 40 bucks. Got it home and it was like Subway… one piece of meat, one piece of cheese, wilted lettuce and a slimey tomato all on 3 inches of bread. It was like trying to swallow a hairball. Wotta rip off. I don’t mind paying the money but, shit, make it worth it.
I think a live blog at KFC would be entertaining! Or any fast food establishment…
That woman should have excused herself and went to the restroom to blow her schnozola. My mother always drilled it into my head that women should excuse themselves to apply makeup, nose blowing (or any blowing), or any other issues. That’s just gross and rude.
Jeff Bauer says
“…two sandwiches with the sides, soup, and a couple of those to-die-for shortbread cookies. It was over 40 bucks.”
No complaining about lack of sex, dear, as you most certainly got fucked. Hard.
$40??? Holy shit.
I love the remote blogging!
Most sandwiches, when made by somebody else, always taste better (to me).
An apple? Really? Gimme a break. We all know damn well she’s got the milk carton size of Goldfish at her desk and an assortment of Nabisco products in her drawer.
Enjoyed the live blogging bit. Sounds like you’ve got support for future live blogging endevours. Taking any suggestions?
Did the 65 year old condom buyer also have one of those gallon sized jugs of ‘personal lubricant’ w/ pump dispenser? Because that would have been really gross.
Live blogging from Panera is a great idea, but next time try a more colorful place, like Golden Corral or something. I’d bet you couldn’t type fast enough to keep up.
WB in OH says
Oh gotdam, Golden Corral would be right up Jeff’s wheelhouse.
I think blowing your nose is fine if it prevents a sneeze… because a sneeze in public is much worse than a blow
Definitely enjoyed the update, but I can’t say the same about Panera. Always thought it was overpriced honestly.
Hey Jeff, try ordering the mustard on the side
Yes!! Please live-blog from a Golden Corral (now THAT gives me a full-body shiver)…
T. Farty McAppleass says
This man is good, he’s real good.
Would you say the cookie was girthful?
Buzz in Wheeling says
They *look* healthy, they *talk* healthy, but I don’t think they *do* all that much healthy. Plus, I think that they are food snobs – all their talk of “artisan” bread and napkins made from 100% recycled snipe feathers or whatever. Lots of posturing going on in that place, believe me.
Listen, the best place to take your laptop to get some actual work done is the public library, hands down. Very few distractions, it’s *quiet* and there are usually places to eat only a block or two away.
If, on the other hand, you enjoy watching a parade of poseurs, by all means, have a Panera.
Just include me out.
Buzz in Wheeling says
And while we’re on the subject, Mr. Kay, I would like to remind you that 60 is the new 40. It’s true! So that would make the dude buying the ‘French letters’ 45 years old. This also demonstrates that even if there is snow on the roof, there can be fire in the furnace.
I say give the guy an A for attitude. Because, as we all know (or should know), attitude is everything.
Hopefully, your ageist attitude and remarks are used here for comic effect only. As my Dad used to say, “Just you wait.”
The onions on the Smoked Ham and Swiss sounds a bit off to me. Seems somewhat intrusive although I’d imagine they “pair well” with a Mountain Dew.
Another thing I thought…a man of your stature (I’m not talking width and girth here so relax) need not wear clothes with holes in them. I’m guessing the hole is in your right pants pocket. You don’t strike me as a double breasted shirt pocket kinda guy. Pant pocket holes were quite the rage when I was 13. Now, they’re for guys in trench coats and ride the bus a lot. An author who has sold millions and the most rare copies fetching upwards of $200.00 as you have achieved can do better. However they may very well be you favorite pair of pants and are hard to let go. Like the pen…which….insted of feeling any guilt or shame and being subject of ridicule for your actions regarding that “piss pen”, I suggest you turn it into a positive. Have thousands of pens printed up. Some that say, “Official Piss Pen”, and others that say, “Jeff Kay Shit Here”. Add the Surf Report.com or the Crossroads Road.com link. Leave them in public restrooms all ove the place. Men’s and Women’s alike. Just a thought.
Next time in wear a beret and a cape. Let out your inner Bohemian. First of all you’ll show the fashion offenders how to dress. You’ll let know Apple Annie you see right through her and you’ll never be preoccupied by fretting over, “UACD”…(unintentional ass crack display). Flip your cape around now and then. Lean back and throw up your hands and laugh out loud at your latest paragraph of comedy genius. And when ordering your nurishment, let them know in no uncertain terms that if they insist on stabbing toothpicks into your food, demand the toothpicks are the ones with a parasol. Perferably one yellow and one turquoise with little Chinese symbols.
Not Oprah says
Loved this update. I had to look up Panera as we don’t have them here (Vancouver) but it sounds like my kinda place – I love soup! But it makes my nose run. I would dab it but certainly not blow it at the table.
I hate subway when they slather on the condiments – disgusting I make them scrape it off.
DTO you’re hilarious