Overeager achiever


In cafe.
Manager walks over.

“Hey, Zero. I made the wrong bagel for someone. Do you want it?”

Not wanting to seem overeager, “Oh…” *sigh* “Oooookaaaay.”

Immediately followed by, “YES I WANT IT!”

This is what happens when I try to be cool (failure).

Doesn’t matter. Still got a free bagel, my precious.

And I did make him laugh (my intention), so it’s still a win.

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Confection defection


Walk into cafe. Go to order coffee.

One of the staff is talking to a manager while holding a pastry, “What do you think about this?”, he says, pointing at something on its surface.

The manager takes a close look at it, “Looks like chocolate.” (the pastry obviously bumped into something that had chocolate on it at some point in its journey)

I speak up, “Oh man. That’s terrible. You should probably throw that out –”

Which they do whenever they have a “defective” product…

“– but if you do, you should just toss it over the other side of the counter over there,” I say, pointing to where my laptop is set up.

They laugh.

I finish ordering my coffee and go back to my table.

Where a defective, but delicious, pastry is waiting for me.


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Walk into cafe.

Get into line behind someone who is talking to one of the managers behind the register.

The manager sees my (new) travel mug, stops talking for a moment and says, “It’s OK, you can go ahead and fill it up. It’s on us today.”

I smile and say, “thanks.”

I fill up my mug and then walk to the table where I’ve placed my laptop bag. All the tables with outlets are taken.

The general manager, who is speaking with someone else at a table nearby, stops and says, “Don’t worry, we’ll be freeing up your table soon.”

I smile and say, “No worries. Thank you.”

I swear, some celebrities don’t get this kind of VIP treatment.

I wish all people treated their “regulars” this well.

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The hook up

Walk into cafe. Setup laptop.

The manager, who has been on vacation for a few days, is on his way out, “Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Year, to you! And hey, it’s my birthday, too!”

“Whaaat? It’s your birthday? Happy Birthday! Hold on… we’ll hook you up…”, shouts to the other manager still working, “Hey, hook him up with a dinner.”


The gift of food attraction. I still got it.

There are a few reasons why I gave this location a 5 star review — and Leonard the manager is one of those reasons. Thank you.

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Panera Bread, 575 Grand Ave L100, San Marcos, CA

A good job

Cafe is closing early tonight for a store meeting. One of the regional managers sees me packing up my laptop. I’ve seen him a few times, but we’ve never talked.

“Hey, Buddy!”
“Hey. How you doing?”
“Good. We should get you an apron!”
“I know! Or at least a wash cloth. I could bus tables… Answer questions about the menu…”
He laughs, “You could work for coffee!”
“Count me in!”

Little does he know I got free coffee 4 days this past week.

But I also often bus the table I want to sit at. So I think it almost works out.

In fact, I might be getting the better deal. Muahahaha! *coff* ;)

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My mutant powers are growing.

Walk up to cafe counter.

Cashier is occupied with something. Doesn’t see me right away. Looks up, and completely out of character, “What’s up?”

“Sup!” I smile. “How yoooou doin’?”

She laughs. The other cashier beside her laughs, too. “Here you go,” she says, reaching behind the counter to hand me a coffee cup.

“But I was — (going to order a bagel) — oh, nevermind.”

“Oh! Did you want anything else?”

“Nah. I’m good. This is good,” I say, walking away with my free coffee.

With my coffee in hand, I go sit down with my laptop and put my headphones in.

*4 minutes later…* someone is standing in my peripheral vision.

I look up…

“Here you go.” The cashier hands me a plate with a bagel and cream cheese, “You’re my simplest customer.”

“I’m — wow — thank you.”

“You like Asiago cheese bagels, right?”

“Yeah… I do. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome.”

And she walks away.

My mutant powers are growing.

My mutant powers are growing.

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The Barista Whisperer

Walk up to cafe counter.

Cashier hands me a cup, “Get out of here.”
I smile, “Thank you.”

“Your talk made me feel a lot better.”
“Good. It was supposed to.” I say, walking away smiling.

Three days ago this cashier was sitting at a table next to mine while on break. And she was on the verge of tears. I didn’t know what it was about, but I spoke up anyway…

“Just remember, it’s temporary. You’re not [working] here forever. You’re here by choice. You’re in control of your life.”

It worked. I think I may be in the free-coffee-for-life club now.

Or at least as long as she chooses to stay.

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  • Thanks, Laura, for your brilliant comment that turned into the title of this post. :)

Try this

Walk into cafe.

“Hi Zero” calls one of the cashiers.
“Hi back” I say, and wave.

I put my laptop bag down and pull out my laptop.

Then I hear, “Pssst.” and look up.

The cashier is standing behind the counter holding something, but I can’t quite make out what it is, “Here, try this!”

I walk over thinking she has a sample of something.

She hands me a fork and a brownie.

“Try THIS!?” I say, “Ok!” and smile.

She wanders off.

Good times.

Try this.

My mutant power strikes again.

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Rewards coffee

Walk into cafe. Notice the long line. Put laptop bag down…

Turn around to discover a cashier standing there holding an empty cup out for me…

“Here. This is my rewards coffee. I’m not going to use it. You can have it.”

I smile and say thank you VERY much. And then she disappears.

Just like that.

Some days I question my effectiveness. Moments like this are always a reminder that I must be doing something right.

At least the coffee gods think so.

*And no, not the same cashier as the other day.
**And the coffee is self-serve — thus, the empty cup.

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