i'm in milwaukee, at panera bread, ordering my "usual" -- half a frontega chicken sandwich and a cup of creamy tomato soup (which happens to be vegetarian creamy tomato soup although i don't order it because it's vegetarian, i mean, obviously -- the chicken sandwich) when suddenly, another customer mysteriously appears from somewhere inside the restaurant and interrupts to speak to the delightful but curiously large asian man/boy taking my order.
the customer whispers something in man/boy's ear while carefully gesturing toward the back of the restaurant. "you're serious?" man/boy says. the customer grimaces, nods, and slips back into the mist.
moments later, as i'm waiting for my order, i hear a shrill, trumpet-like voice from behind the counter: a saucy teenage girl (as saucy as teenage girls get in wisconsin) announces to her fellow employees "okay are you ready for this?" all the employees immediately stop what they're doing to listen to her. this girl has power. customers stop chewing. birds stop chirping. the muzak pauses. there is now complete and utter silence for what promises to be the announcement of the decade.
"there's a homeless guy in the bathroom, pants down, asleep on the toilet," saucy says.
no one moves.
birds stand still.
"ohmygod what?! what did you say?" another employee mumbles.
"homeless guy in the bathroom. pants down. asleep on the toilet." she reiterates, full trumpet-voice.
there's a beat of silence. then a quiet but extended groan from the customers, the birds, and the other employees, including the skinny guy ladling out my creamy tomato soup. "did anyone tell chris?" skinny says, as he drops cheesy asiago croutons in my soup (i usually ask for extra croutons, but i'm trying to slim down a bit.) "chris is not gonna be happy."
"i know," saucy says, "this is the second time today."
as i enjoy my chicken sandwich and tomato soup, i watch poor chris mope off toward the men's room, shaking his head in disgust, and i think to myself, "ahhh, feels just like home." of course in new york, it wouldn't be only the second time.