Pleasantly People Watching at Panera

My internet isn’t working at my apartment because, in short, Comcast sucks… a lot. It’s been down for over a week now, but because I’d rather shove bamboo shoots up my fingernails than be on the phone with those people, I have yet to call.

I digress.

I came to my local Panera Bread this morning, to borrow their wireless and indulge in a Pumpkin Spice Latte and blueberry bagel. (Hello fat pants).  I’m sitting here now, slathering my bagel with raspberry cream cheese (yup, fat pants for sure) and taking in all the sights with my still-sleepy hazels. You would not believe how busy it is! I was shocked when I walked through the door and couldn’t find a seat! I guess everybody is loving the carbaliciousness too!

And I really mean everybody.  There are blue-haired senior citizens sitting alone, sipping coffee and nibbling on danishes.  There are business-looking-men working away on laptops near the coveted electrical outlets.  There are women dressed in suits, talking on phones with large briefcases surrounded by Desperate Housewives and soccer moms.  There is one young mom, in an awesome hot-pink trench coat, tugging her toddler by the hand as she gazes in the pastry window. (I know hunny, they just look too good to pass up.) There’s a young man in a tacky white golf hat who’s been talking on his phone for the last half-hour, and walking around as though impatiently waiting with somewhere important to go.

Luckily, the gruff, cussing voice of Mr. I Don’t Have Time To Care That Chuck Pissed Them Off has left with his wife(?) in tow.  His stress was ruining my serenity, so I was happy to see him waddle out the door. Unfortunately, the Golden Girls sharing baking stories left shortly after. They were energetic and sweet, and I like to think they’re headed off to jazzercise together. I listened to them intently, hopeful that when I’m their age, I’ll be sitting here doing the same thing with my girlfriends.

Their leaving opened my path to see three senior citizen men perched around newspapers talking about, what else, the upcoming Steeler game. “Do you think the Steelers will wear blacks this week?” “Oh I don’t know, the whole uniform thing is getting a bit ridiculous, they have so many…” A few minutes later, I could swear I heard: “Well, when I was over in Germany…”  Really? This is so stereotypically wonderful!  Talking football? Sharing war stories? You can’t get more old-school American than that.  (Okay for real, they’re talking about when America made a treaty with someone back in the day. Priceless!).

A mother and daughter are sitting behind me now, and they’re talking about the usual stuff – recent doctor appointments, Aunt Sal, car warranties and weekend plans.  (Makes me wish my I met up with my mom today!)

There may or may not be a bingo-loving crack addict a few booths away.

This truly is more entertaining than anything I could find on TV right now, and I’m glad I forgot my earbuds and didn’t escape to Michael Buble Land.  This is a nice reminder of just how big this world is.  These are all strangers going about their daily lives, grabbing something carbtastic and caffeinated on their way to whatever their day will hold. I could sit here and watch all day, trying to piece together who they are, what they do, who they love, where they live.

Sometimes I wonder how I must look.  Do they think I’m writing a college paper, or do I look like a young professional? Have they caught on to me and realized I’m writing about them? Do they wonder where I live and if my heart belongs to someone? Do I look happy?

They probably haven’t noticed me at all, and that’s okay with me, because I’ve noticed them… and this group of strangers, going about their lives and seemingly enjoying it, have unknowingly just made my day.


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