Today as I was walking to my hair appointment, on the verge of a mental breakdown due to various life tragedies that aren’t all real tragedies, I power-walked past a middle aged lady who appeared to be talking to herself. In Boston, whether or not someone is yelling to themselves or, wearing a set of headphones and engaged in a discussion with a real-live human being is a crapshoot. In this case, as I passed carefully under the fake-safe distance of an arms length, I noted that she was wearing headphones, signalling interaction with another breathing individual.
“And I went to Panera Bread. I ordered a bottle of water.”
“Oh really?” I thought to myself. This was front page news. “Tell me more…” I glanced quickly in her direction. Based on her appearance she looked like a capable human, more capable than myself at least. I tried to recall if I had ever advertised lounging in a Panera Bread before. No.
“And I sat in a booth with my cup of water, and I drank it.”
This confused me. Was it a bottle? Was it a cup? Did she buy the bottle and then pour it into the cup?
“And it was nice. I was there for a while.”
“Really?” I thought. “That’s the story? This woman went to a Panera, ordered water and just sat?” She sounded happy, if not excited that not only had this Panera time-out happened, but also that she was able to share it with someone.
My pace took me away from her before I could get any additional information and I did not want to suddenly bring to a halt what had clearly been my pseudo jog. This was fine, as I felt I had gotten the gist of the story and didn’t want any of her afterthoughts to ruin what had clearly been a meaningful morning.
What was really important in her life? Mental health is most definitely up there for most. Did she have no worries and spending time in a booth at a popular chain give her additional pleasure? Or was this her way of decompressing? Was the person on the other side of the phone line bored with her Panera chitchat and securing the knot to their noose or was he/she cheering her on for her bottled water purchase?
Should I be cashing in on my two-year-old Panera gift card?