Sunday, April 20, 2014

Leslie Bruni and Panera Girl

Photo:  Panera Bread
This op-ed in today's New York Times about the several-hundred-mile car trek Frank Bruni's niece and her grandfather took together recently reminded me of the young girl I saw in Panera the other day.  Although Leslie has only four or five years on "Panera Girl," she's eons ahead of her in wisdom.

They were standing in line in front of me--a bat mitzvah-ish age young woman with, I surmised, a bubbe and a tante, out for breakfast together during spring break.  Surly, exasperated by their questions about what she might like to eat, and preoccupied with her phone, she could learn a thing or two from Leslie.  

Had it been appropriate, I might have made these suggestions to "Panera Girl" as we waited in line:
  1. Smile, say cheese, and take some selfies of the three of you.  Bubbe and Tante will be amazed at what your phone can do, and someday you'll treasure those photos.
  2. Give them your earbuds and let them listen to some of your favorite songs.  Tell them about the singer or ask them about their favorite songs.  
  3. Tell them what you're learning in history class.  Ask if they remember that time; they just might be able to give you a first-hand, one-of-a-kind perspective that's not in any of your textbooks. 
  4. Ask them what books they read in junior high school.  Jane Eyre?  Anne of Green Gables?  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?  Try to find one or two of them the next time you're in the library or at Barnes and Noble.  You might be pleasantly surprised with what you'll find in the pages of these classics.
  5. Ask where they went on their honeymoon.  How did they get there?  How long did they stay?  What did they see and do?  
As the three of them carried beverages and a small tray of goodies to a table, I left with my coffee.  I hope they enjoyed their breakfast, found some common ground for conversation, and created a few sweet memories to treasure.