Michael Thiele is a woodsmith who makes musical instruments and playable furniture. He spends most of his life either in the shop or out on the road buying wood and selling his work at craft shows. In recent years, his travels have begun to inspire his own writing, so he sends me his thoughts.
Daytime, Jan 30
Hope it’s not a harbinger of things to come. Stopped at Panera on the way to the dry cleaners. I knew that by 11:00 a.m. they’d be out of the only bagel I am willing to eat - the cinnamon raisin swirl. This time of day? Gone. But with me, experience be damned, hope springs eternal. Glory be, though. For the first time in my recollection, they had one of my bagels at that time of day. Beautiful. Or not.
The woman at the register asked first if I had a phone number with them. Jerk that I am I said no, I’m not currently dating anyone named Panera. She didn’t seem to get it and said ok then so what’s my name? Michael, I told her. She pecked at her screen for a full ten seconds before declaring she didn’t know how to spell “that” and said she’d “just call it Mike.” No prob, right?
I told her that I wanted the aforementioned bagel, double toasted with plain cream cheese. She repeated the order clearly and confirmed that it was “to go.” I paid. While standing next to a woman in the waiting area across from food prep she began asking me something in a language I don’t speak. This didn’t go well. We waited, she throwing out occasional commentary probably relating to how long they were taking with her order. Frowns accompanied the comments. But finally, her order showed up and she said something on the way out to me. No clue. Was it “Good luck,” or “You were no help at all?” Who knows.
In time, my name was called as a small bag was plopped onto the counter. I looked inside. Not what I ordered and not what the cashier had repeated to me and not what she actually typed in. The food prep girl told me to wait a minute while she made another, which she did. She placed it in the bag with the other, which I reminded her that I did not want.
“Just take it. It’s free,” she said. Free, in my mind, is not cheap enough for something one doesn’t want.
“What do I do with it?” I asked. “Set it on my dashboard and make it watch me devour its buddy?” I placed it on the counter and left. Glad my days are so uneventful…….