“Who have I become?” I pondered this as I sat alone on a Friday night in a booth at Panera Bread after having eaten the saddest and most expensive item on the menu. I had just come from having a drink with co-workers with the pure intention of merely grabbing a sandwich to go and eating it in the solitude of my lair like a normal adult.
My pity here was twofold: for myself because of everything touched upon in the above statement and for the fate of the lobster which I had just consumed. I mean, if you’re a lobster who is destined to get eaten this certainly wasn’t a joint that would make your shellfish brethren proud for your sacrifice.
I was of sound mind when I made the verbal agreement to engage in said sandwich. I could blame it on the one drink that I had had but, despite being a lightweight, I was shamefully sober at this point in time. And it hadn’t been like past experiences with fast food chains where I’d find myself “panic ordering,” requesting something completely random (or nonexistent) from off the menu because of an invisible mounting pressure from the hungry customers surrounding me.
It was actually quite the opposite. It had only been me and three vacant checkout lines. I even took time to sit down with the menu and truly get to know it and consider each and every one of my sandwich options. But as I stepped up to order, “lobster roll,” just seemed as if it needed to be said. Somehow this felt more rational than say the Mediterranean flatbread or buffalo chicken sandwich (both of which I just made up because I refused to stand up and take a proper look at the menu, post-lobster).
So as the young girl (presumably new to the job) was being coached in her register duties, I was sure that the $19.25 total must have been a blunder on her part. But I then glanced up at the sign and saw that the only miscalculations that were made had been done by me. How did I just order the most expensive thing on the menu? And at a Panera Bread?! It was too late to turn back. I needed to accept my fate and take responsibility for my actions.
When my order was up the sandwich artist proclaimed, “lobster roll!” “Not so loud!” I wanted to say while shielding my face in order to hide my identity from possible onlookers. As I reached for my sandwich of crushed dreams the gentleman then asked me, while looking puzzled, “No sides?! Chips or an apple?!” Like I had done a great injustice to this pathetic lobster roll which sat lonely on its pale green plate next to a signature brown paper napkin. “Chips, please” I whispered, trying not to look him in the eye.
As I attempted to calculate how much each bite I was taking was worth I heard an excited fellow diner exclaim in delight “Oh! I’m eligible for a free bagel!” At least someone was having a successful visit to Panera this evening.
As I proceeded to eat my fancy meal, I bit down on (what I can only have assumed to have been) a sliver of shell. I let out a sigh while thinking to myself that someday I would really like to find my own happy “free bagel” ending.