Monday, November 28, 2011

is that a stick in my eye? i hope so

I would be horribly remiss in my duties if I didn’t get one story off my chest, posthaste.

We made the one-day motoring trip from Brattleboro to the D.C. area yesterday; the Eleven and the Fifty. It ran about 11 hours, but a full two hours of that was passed by things you might consider screwing around: stopping at one bakery/sandwich shop, another deli, trying to find a Barnes and Noble, putting oil in the car (?!?), getting gas, finding a Barnes and Noble, and grabbing a bite to eat at the Panera in the B&N strip mall parking lot area. The Panera was my idea, and it’s the heart-and-soul of this vignette.

We walked in about 7:45pm, into a place manned (womaned?) by four teens who couldn’t possibly manage to lead actual lives that involve actual things. Yes, it was my idea to amble over to Panera from B&N – it seemed like such a grand idea. L. ordered a chicken Caesar salad, and we ordered two mozzarella and tomato Paninis, to go. Smooth. Done. Case closed. We are the only folks in there since they are closing at 8p; well, us and the woman and child ordering ahead of us – an order that took FOREVER to be completed. An order that included two bakery items. I should have known. We eventually get our bag of stuff and headed to the car, disregarding everything that Joe Pesci taught us about drive thrus and/or takeaway. L. has no chicken on her sorry looking salad, X starts to eat her Panini before ripping it open to see what looks like ½ a cherry tomato and an area the might have once seen mozzarella. We turn around. The smooth brains ‘working’ in the place have locked the doors by now and began ‘cleaning’ up for the night. We knock, wave, and eventually get let back in to the scene of the crime. Each and every one of the girls is totally confused by the situation as presented, one that involves bread, tomatoes, cheese, and salad. They continue cleaning while debating ciabatta and baguette, cheese and tomato, salad and salad. Eventually the manager is brought into the movie from his cubicle in the back of the restaurant – the bar is very, very low to be a manager. He looks at the sandwiches, says “those are all wrong”, and slowly begins the task of actually doing something. The girls are rallied, actual tomatoes are gotten, cheese is secured, and he manages to somehow make two new sandwiches. As for the missing chicken, one of the wedges pulls a little baggy of chicken from below the counter and shakes it out on L’s salad. Classy as fuck. L. decided she didn’t want the salad anymore. I tell manager-man that we’ll just take a refund on the salad. There are two rounds of questioning on the salad before he gives up. Two rounds before I pull my ServSafe qualification/culinary card and point out a few items. First, the chicken is clearly delivered pre-cooked in little baggies. Even with that, I don’t want to see the chicken disgorged from said bag onto the salad. Take the salad down off the counter, do your thing, and re-deliver it. I think there’s some old saying about sausage and making. Second, the minute we walked back in with a food issue, and there was a determination and agreement to make us some new stuff, you need to get the fucking minions to stop cleaning the counters, leaving the cleansing buckets and cleaners on the counters, and take care of us before going back to cleaning. Nope. Not these geniuses: scrubbing away, nasty sanitation buckets on the counter near the chicken – pretty bad. I understand they were in a hurry to close on a Sunday night and get home in time for Kickin’ it with the Kardashians, but really? It was probably the worst encounter ever in a food place. I don’t say that lightly. But, the good that comes from it all is that I’m even less likely to eat ‘out’ then I already have been of late. I’d like to thank the good folks at Panera Break, near 84 S 32nd ST, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

p.s. Don’t think me sexist. All the employees just happened to be girls. I’m sure we would have had the same outcome with dudes.

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