Friday, March 31, 2017

Searching for Panera Bread


I'm giving up Panera Bread for Lent. Or is it Paradise Bakery? No, it's Panera Bread . . . maybe Paradise Bakery. They seem to be on every corner in the city, but I can't seem to find the right one. I like their squash soup, so I suggested meeting my friend, Martha, at Panera Bread at Arrowhead for lunch. I was running late because I had to take Larry to the vet, so I called her. "No problem." I turned into a shopping center next to Sweet Tomatoes, but didn't see Panera Bread. After checking Maps on my phone, I discovered there are two Panera Breads/Paradise Bakery's within a mile of each other. I called Martha again, "Is it on Bell east or west of 75th Ave." "East," she responded. I turned around and headed east - back from whence I came. No Panera Bread. Google maps on my phone pinned it as west of 75th Ave. - right next door to Sweet Tomatoes! Finally finding the correct Panera Bread, I discovered squash soup is a seasonal item - so I had to settle for chicken noodle. The whole episode reminded me of one of my frustrating dreams where I'm running in slow motion and going nowhere.

     Fast forward to Friday. I had made arrangements to meet Patience to pick up some books. She suggested we meet after work at - wait for it - Panera Bread. This one is located 30 miles from my house, where I will have to travel on 2 urban expressways, in rush hour traffic! Driving a freeway between 3:30 and 6:00 in Phoenix can be compared to riding a malfunctioning roller coaster at Six Flags. I thought I left in plenty of time - my phone said the drive would be 45 minutes. Not in a million years! Edging in line to turn into the shopping center took 20 minutes. Happy Hour Haven during March Madness is not someplace where you want to search for a Panera Bread on a Friday at dusk.

     Then there was my critique group who agreed to meet at Panera Bread on Scottsdale Road just south of the 101 on Sunday afternoon. I was just leaving my house when Joanne called, "That particular Panera Bread has been closed." (It must have been a Paradise Bakery.) At the same time, my phone buzzed with a call from Rita, "Joanne must have meant the Panera Bread on Tatum and Shea." I responded, "There's one at Tatum and the 101." Phone buzz, "Let's meet at the one on Raintree. I already called Rita." I found the one on Raintree, but Rita was driving around Tatum and the 101 looking for the Panera Bread - or is it Paradise Bakery? I found Joanne in the parking lot of the Panera Bread on Raintree, so we called Rita. She was not happy, but said she would drive over to meet us. Visions of the Keystone Cops danced in my head.

     Monday morning I had made arrangements to meet for coffee with Beth at - you guessed it - Panera Bread. "Which one?" "The one on the northeast corner of Tatum and Shea." My brain recorded Tatum and Cactus. I drove to the designated corner, but no Panera Bread. She must have meant southwest corner. Nope, no Panera Bread there. I could see one being built on the northwest corner, but it was not open yet. Out comes the phone, and I see a pin for Paradise Bakery inside the mall - that must be the one. I parked my car and headed in the mall, marching in step with the morning mall walkers. It was way on the other side of the mall, so I got my walk in for the day. No Beth. The only way I communicate with her is through messenger on Facebook. Pitiful, huh. So I pulled out my phone - and low and behold I discovered my note about the Panera Bread at Tatum and Shea. I messaged her, apologizing, and said I was on my way. I was certain she was sitting at a table scrolling through Facebook waiting for me. I got to Panera Bread at Tatum and Shea - and after sweeping through the seating areas - I didn't see Beth anywhere. She must have gotten tired of waiting for me. Hungry after my journey, I ordered some comfort food and settled at a table outside to calm down. As I was drinking my coffee, Beth walked up. She had forgotten about our meeting and came after she saw my Facebook message.

     So, no more Panera Bread for me . . . or until October when I can enjoy some squash soup!

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