I’m sitting in a Panera right now (because I’m a corporate sellout…and Dagny’s was too busy) listening to No Doubt at a teeny-tiny table with an empty chair across from me.
I’m at table number thirty-four as the little gold medallion pressed into the wood is telling me.
The engraved doubloon is also telling me that I can order from my table at http://www.panerabread.com.
The front counter is literally thirty feet away (give or take a thousand feet because I’m so bad at estimating these kinds of things) and I sat at one of the far tables (one of those half-booth/half-chair types).
In fact, there is actually a shelf set up near the front of the store labeled alphabetically…so now when your food is ready you can find it waiting for you under the letter of your last name.
You could enter this “restaurant” without ever talking to or seeing another soul. (Aside from all the other lazy, socially anxious people avoiding eye-contact with one another while simultaneously ordering chocolate croissants from their phones and catching Zubats in the corner by the restrooms. That’s all there is in Bakersfield, by the way. If you’re playing Pokemon Go in Bakersfield then you realize we have a terrible, terrible Zubat epidemic.)
I’m not sure what I was going to write when I sat down here, but isn’t that how life always goes?
I just finished my twenty-fifth rotation around the sun. Originally, I thought I was going to write something like “25 Things about Being 25” or some other Buzzfeed monstrosity that has been done a hundred million times now (100 Things to do Before You Turn 100…#1 Don’t die).
But I think what I’ve realized while sitting at this Panera is that our lives are not-so-slowly evolving to the point where we don’t need one another anymore. And I don’t even think we want each other anymore.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever turned down an aisle at Target only to be met with someone you went to high school with and immediately turned the other way because you didn’t want to say hi. (Oh, just me?)
And it’s not like these interactions would be bad. These people are acquaintances, not murderers. But it would be AWKWARD because we would have to be SOCIAL (and you’re just trying to find the jynx, amirite?!).
Raise your hand if you’ve ever waited until you got home to go number two because you knew the person in the stall next to you would memorize your shoes and then tell everyone about the smelly deuce you just dropped. (Oh, just me?)
You see, I get the convenience and the comfort of the hermit life. I get not wanting to interact with the world around you because you could get hurt or embarrassed or just…mildly uncomfortable.
But will the self-checkout be there to help you when you drop your change all over the ground? Will your online ordering app tell you that they love your new Free People pants? (The ATM did tell me Happy Birthday though. Score one for the machines.)
So I guess what I’m trying to say is…we have to stop avoiding one another. (Because pretty soon the robots are going to take over and then none of us will have jobs. See: Humans Need Not Apply.)
Those awkward, uncomfortable, anxiety-ridden parts of life are what separates us from the animals! We need each other.
So say hi even when you don’t want to.
Use the actual checkout lanes. (Except maybe just don’t go to Panera anymore cause that place is whack. Clearly.)
When you’re watching a movie, which then sparks a debate with you and your boyfriend over what other movie that guy with the scars on his face is in…don’t look it up. Just hash it out until you come up with an answer (even if it’s not the right one).
We are spending so much time trying to take the uncertainty out of life that we’re not becoming more comfortable, we’re just becoming more complacent.
So I say…go outside! Meet new people & find Pokemon…together!
Be unsure about your IMDB knowledge, but argue about it anyway!
Be uncomfortable, but say hi to whatsherface anyway!
Be anxious, but go number two anyway! (It’s really not healthy to hold that in. I could probably go right now, but I’m afraid someone at this Panera is going to jack my laptop…probably to order more self-conscious croissants.)
Also, Panera, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry…and I could use a refill.