On Monday I headed up to Panera bright and early to study for my midterm exam. I was anxious about cramming nine chapters into my brain for a mere four questions. I like going to Panera because they have free wireless and I can cozy up in the back corner and typically be left alone. Not this time.
A couple of hours into my study session a large family settled in for lunch behind me. Soon after, another gentleman sat himself at the tiny table directly next to me. I was deep in thought and had my earphones in, so I just quickly noticed him in my peripheral. A few minutes later he stood up and I noticed that among his greasy, tousled hair and unshaven gray beard, that he was sweating profusely through his heather grey t-shirt, particularly in his chest region. I initially thought he must have been working out, but he was in normal clothes. As he went around to the coffee bar, I studied him as he walked away. That's when I noticed that he had two large poop stains on the back of his shorts. I could not believe it. Nor could I believe that I was going to be camped out next to this guy for who knows how long.
He soon came back to his tiny table and tiny laptop, and all the while he was trying to talk to the children at the other table and was laughing at every little thing that they did. I was anything but focused on studying at this point, and as my husband has communitcated to me, I am not the most discreet observer. :) Glancing his direction occasionally, I noticed that his socks were filthy and that one of his soles flopped when he walked. He was an absolute mess, but he did not appear homeless, but rather unclean and extremely socially awkward.
When he finally said something to me, he simply pointed to the tattoo on my heel. He said, "I just noticed your little cloud there. It's cute." I simply said thank you and then returned to my reading, to politely relay that I was not able to engage in conversation. A few minutes passed and he said, "Your feet are so small. If you ever committed a crime the police would be looking for a nine year old". I managed to curve my lips into some kind of polite smile and again, returned to my reading.
All that I could think was, "I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT A CRIME"!
About this time, another women sits on the other side of me and she is the most odd little pregnant woman I have ever seen. She looks intently at me and gives me the strangest smile while holding her belly. She sits and continues to look about - as if in a daze.
Then, following her is another women who I would say is in her fifties. She headed straight to the back asking where another outlet was. She then starts chatting with everyone around her and starts climbing the furniture to close all of the blinds in the back of the restaurant. I noticed while her back was turned that she had these high-rise jeans on with a shirt that only connects near the neck, exposing her entire back. "So odd", I thought to myself. She sat down and announced that she was going to be getting on a conference call and that she can be quite loud. Of course.
I turned my music up.
Then the gentleman taps on my desk to get my attention. I remove my earphone (becoming a bit frustrated at this point) and I focus my attention on his face.
***Disclaimer - I have this awesome disposition where I feel like I am "on to people". My husband calls me Crime Dog McGruff because I am always convinced that someone is doing something wrong or bad and it's my job to bring these people to justice. Hilarious really. So, please picture Crime Dog McGruff kicking in at this point.***
Back to the gentleman...he was typing on his computer and stopped me to ask a question. This is what I heard, "How do you spell mass killing". Can you even imagine the horror on my face? I am quite certain that I looked at him in disgust as I shook my head, while also trying to look past him for a manager, police officer, body guard, a grown-up! :) I repeat back to him after a while and say, "Mass killing"? He said, "Huh? No, how do you spell mas-cu-line?"
[body begins to relax]
"Oh, masculine", I say cooly. What an idiot.
After the spelling bee incident, I can't help but laugh at myself. I text my hubby, who I know will get a kick out of this and then I simply step out of the building to phone my mom to let her know about my Crime Dog McGruff faux pas. We have a good laugh and then I am really ready to get back to my text book. I walk in, sit down, put on my earphones and pick-up my textbook. It's after maybe a minute that I realize the woman from the conference call is now off the phone and wait...is she...no, really?...is she talking about me? I remove one earphone and look in her direction and yes, she absolutely is talking about me. She then says to me, "Must have been a really important phone call for you to take that call outside. You can talk in front of us you know?"
I am so confused. I let her know that it was a private call. And left it at that. I wish she had too.
I put my earphone back in and then I soon notice the woman packing up her things, all the while chatting with the gentleman and pregnant woman. Before I realize it, she is standing right next to my chair. Again, I remove my earphone and ask, "Can I help you?" She then looks at the man, and says, "See what I mean? She sees me as a problem child. Once a problem child always a problem child. If you don't conform with the masses...yada yada yada".
At this point, I have been looking for a reason to leave this psycho-section of Panera for an hour and so I stand up, quite ruffled mind you, and begin packing up my things.
She then says, "You don't have to leave, I'm leaving soon anyway".
I then tell her, "I am just trying to study for a mid-term. I don't know what I did to you, but I don't have time for this". She replies, "I am just looking for some involvement here". I quickly announce, "I came here to study. I am not looking for involvement".
Again, she says to the man, "See what I mean. They just don't care. This generation...."
I walk away in complete bewilderment. Did I seriously just sit next to a guy in poopy shorts AND get into a heated argument with a manic, middle-aged woman (who apparently thought I was in high school)?
And the worst part - they made me CRY! :)