Panera Ponderings.

Before I get into this latest entry, in case you haven’t heard, Apple releases the iPhone this afternoon at 6 p.m. I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about this latest gadget as the media has been very, very quiet about this technological breakthrough so I thought I should warn you that things might be a little crazy around your local Apple and /AT&T retailers. By the way, I’m not getting one, he says rejoicefully.

I am sitting in Panera while en route to my sister’s to do the brotherly chore of mowing her lawn. Since my sister’s boyfriend is a Canadian Hockey Player, she ends up spending a lot of time north of the border in Prince Edward Island. Stateside she has a townhouse in one of those sort of snobby developments so there is much pressure to keep her lawn under control. Therefore, I must drive 100 miles round trip to do this.

This is what older brothers do.

I always find a trip to Panera to be a fascinating experience. I don’t know if it’s the effect of Baby Bush and his cast of idiots or what but there seems to have been a general dumbing down of the American public since the dawn of the 21st century. Panera does a great job of posting their menu in bold print, using words with no more than three syllables to describe what they have to offer. The prices are available to all, there’s no secret handshake required.

Can someone please tell me why almost all customers have such a difficult time ordering at Panera? To begin with, they stand 10 to 12 feet away from the counter, seemingly like they’re fearing an appearance of Barbara Eden (in the dark wig) smoking out of a jelly roll or something. Secondly, those waiting their turn at the register make no attempt to sort out what they desire prior to getting to their turn. They talk on their cell phone, scratch their nuts, leash their kids, lash out at their kids and “ooh” and “aah” over the pastries in the display case but by all that is holy they DO NOT make any decisions or try to figure out what Asiago Cheese is. Why is this?

I would bet one thin dime that they know what they want when they’re ordering a Burger Bomb by yelling into the clown’s mouth.

I don’t feel I’m unreasonable. Perhaps I expect too much from people. Is it crazy of me to wish that people stand in line, formulate their order in advance and move through the ordering process in a timely manner?

Perhaps Panera should install a clown’s mouth on the counter.