The explorer in me is always seeking out new experiences. As much as I love my Coffee Shop it is good to get out and see what else is out there. This is a study in contrasts between my beloved Coffee Shop and a Panera Bread in a shopping mall.
My mission for the day was to travel to the big shopping mall that is about 45 minutes from our house. My main objective was the men's clothing store where we purchased three pairs of pants for Glen back in November. One pair needed a small repair on an inside seam and I brought the other two along to get pressed. The gentleman that helped me at the store asked me if I had any errands to do, he would have everything repaired and pressed within the hour. Awesome!
I had been planning to look at the mall for some throw pillows for the new couch anyway. After looking around at a few stores and coming away empty handed, I was starting to get a little hungry.
The mall has a Panera Bread and I thought it might be a good experiment to go there for a snack and do a little writing. After a quick stop at Barnes and Noble to purchase a small journal that I could keep in my bag, I entered the Panera Bread at quarter to eleven.
The young Order Takers behind the counter could learn a few lessons from The Order Taker. Mainly they could work on cheerfulness and presentation of the food. There was no "Would you like that warmed with butter?" today.
I ordered a Chai Tea Latte and a Wild Blueberry Scone. I do love a good scone and I am partial to Panera's Chai Lattes. But after my weeks at The Coffee Shop, I felt a bit short changed here. I paid more for my Chai and I got less. Although the Drink Maker didn't seem all that confident in what she was doing. She kept scratching her head through her hat. Probably not a good sign.
I really love that my Coffee Shop brings me my muffin and Chai. No standing around waiting, feeling awkwardly out of place.
Once loaded up with my scone, my Chai and my bag, I looked around for good place to sit. I chose a table in the corner, closest to the register, yet looking out over the whole dining area.
Part of the reason I chose this table as well, was at the table next to me were two couples in their 70's. Seating arrangement at this table was, both guys on one side and both ladies on the other.
I got the impression that they were planning a trip together since the guys were huddled around a laptop looking at maps and making plans. The trip seemed to be focused northward towards the Upper Peninsula and Canada.
As I started listening in, the gentleman with the laptop was talking about traveling this route during some nasty weather one winter. The worst area being where I-75 and 127 merged together. This made my heart catch because that is the exact area where my daughter, Mallory had a serious accident two years ago. I can still close my eyes and see it unfold behind me. If you have a tissue handy you can read that story here. I still consider this one of my best pieces of writing. Yep, it still gets me. Not sure why I joined their conversation right at that point.
The Laptop Guy was very tech savvy for a guy in his 70's. He was alternating between his laptop and his iPad Mini, while the table also contained the mouse for his laptop and a Mobile Hotspot Jet Pack.
It was approaching time for me to pack up so I turned my attention from The Trip Planners back to the greater whole of the restaurant. Here are a few more observations.
Most of the diners were young. Young moms with strollers, probably taking a break from the salvia and snot coated indoor play land. Young college age girls with no classes to keep them occupied on a Friday. Occasionally a sturdy, silver plated walker would be pushed up to the order counter. A look of puzzlement on the face of the Walker Pusher, so many choices, where to even begin. How about just a cup of black coffee.
With all the activity going on there was also so much noise. The noise from the Mall, the noise of so many conversations swirling about, the cries of the restless in the strollers. I missed the peacefulness of my Coffee Shop.
I felt so much more like just an observer here. Where as at my beloved Coffee Shop, I feel like an observer but I also feel like a part of the story.