Thursday, April 29, 2010

Panera-geddon! (3 Good Things From 4/28/10)

I'm stuffed full of waffles and french toast; Sweetie made my breakfast this morning and loaded up on both, I think to try to prove to me that there is such a thing as too many waffles. Well, she was wrong, and while I nap and try to digest this stuff, here's my 3 Good Things from yesterday to keep me happy today -- focusing on the bright spots of otherwise bad things.

1. The kids at Panera got it right (almost).
In the past, I've wondered how The Boy, with his anti-work surliness, can keep a job the way he's done at the Panera near us for almost two years. Lately, the answer became apparent to me: because everyone else who works there is so much worse.

We go to the Panera where The Boy works about once a week; Sweetie likes their "frozen mango" drink and the Babies! and I usually run in to get her one, along with a mini-Bundt cake. And each time we've gone, the service has gotten a little worse.

It begins, always, with them questioning my order. Panera serves two mango drinks: A frozen mango, which is like a mango Icee with whipped cream, and a Mango Smoothie. That's how the drinks are identified on their menu. So when I go in, I order "A frozen mango," and without fail, the Panera person asks me "do you mean the mango smoothie? Or the other one?"

(Imagine going into McDonald's and saying "A hamburger please," and they respond "Do you mean the chicken sandwich, or the hamburger?")

So I always clarify, and then go through the process of getting the cake, too, which is located about two feet to their left -- a two-foot journey that goes through some sort of memory vortex, because the clerk always... seriously, always... gets to the cake and says "What was it you wanted again?" (Or some minor variation.)

So it takes a lot to sort out the order, clarifying that I meant what I said, and then saying what I meant again, and all, and last Saturday when we stopped in there was the worst yet: I had to order twice, the girl rang it up wrong twice, she tried to give me the wrong cookie when we ordered one of those, and then nobody actually made the drink we ordered, so I stood there with two unruly 3-year-olds for 10 minutes before politely asking a guy if someone was making my drink.

"Nobody told me to make it," he said, "But I can," after which I thanked him and finally got the frozen mango, only it didn't have the whipped cream or raspberry syrup or other things that actually make up the drink. Like a noncomplaining sucker I took it out to Sweetie, anyway, frustrated with the whole process (but not wanting to complain to the boss and make trouble) and Sweetie agreed with me that the drink was terrible.

Last night, then, we gave Panera another try -- The Boy was working -- and this time, the clerk got the order right the first time, the girl made the drink perfectly, and everything went just the way it's supposed to... except that I ordered it to go and didn't get a bag, so I had to juggle a cake and a cookie and a drink and two 3-year-old's on the way to the car.

2. Towelie made a return to South Park! And presumably no linen-makers threatened the creators with death for defaming towels by depicting them as drug-addled prostitutes. I've always liked Towelie, and he was the only bright spot in an episode that was just another tired parody of other TV shows (something I've long been against)... an episode that didn't keep my attention, as I drifted in and out of sleep.

3. The drive home was pretty fast... which it should have been, since I didn't leave work until almost 6 p.m. I decided, at 4:30, to read every single email in my inbox, going back to March 30. An hour and twenty minutes later, I was done and headed home through traffic that was surprisingly light; if you've got to stay late at work reading emails, you might as well get an easy commute home.

125 down, 10,825 to go: For no particular reason other than I'm in the mood to hear it: Good Work by The BoDeans. Or, as I used to call them when I was a college DJ: "Waukesha's own The BoDeans."

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