Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's not just an overpriced food chain

I have a lot of people to thank in my life. There are countless people who have shaped who I am today, whether they were a positive or negative influence in my life at the time. Everyone’s in your life for a reason because they can make you stronger. That being said, I feel like I have a lot of people that I’m grateful for simply having their presence. 

But today, I’m going to thank an institution that I owe a great deal to. I really want to thank Panera. Now, let me really explain this.

Panera is more than just an overpriced food chain that acts like a bowl of macaroni and cheese and pastries are gourmet foods (they’re still really good), it’s a symbol of my whole high school experience. I don’t think I had even stepped into a Panera until my freshman year, but now Panera is really my home. We started our relationship when I got sweet teas before volleyball practice my freshman year, but stayed together for multiple other reasons. Sophomore year brought on new challenges. Academy chemistry meant cramming for tests where my friends would quiz me and basically teach me everything I had been lost on during the whole chapter. AP World History kept all of my friends behind on our long notebooks, but I was always there to help them out with it. It’s where many friendships began because people were constantly there helping me with whatever I needed, and I treated them the same way.

Junior year, ahhh, the dreaded junior year. Panera provided us all with the ultimate study place, even when we weren’t buying anything. And you know what Panera did about our frugality? They still loved us. They still provided us with free wi-fi and didn’t kick us out when they closed. They let us all sit there, not having bought anything over $5 total and using their internet and ‘working’. Or rather, trying to get work done but mostly socializing. Panera is where I learned to do web homework and have others help me and give my limited physics expertise to others, and it’s where we studied in the masses for US History tests. 

By the time senior year rolled around, it had a different feeling. College essays and applications loomed over our heads and it became every man for himself. On the days where I thought I was going to die because my home internet was broken or because my house was just too crazy for me to stay and work, I counted on trusty Panera, whether it be the one by my house or the one by school. Home is home when it has the name of 'Panera'. With nothing more than exactly $2 for a drink and my computer, I slaved over countless essays and scholarships. It became the resting place for 6th hour shenanigans when we had our mentoring hours, and eventually, it became a known fact that I was going there three days a week before babysitting. Though the workload wasn’t bad, I was still counting on the iced teas and coffees to keep me going and pushing through the day. There were many days of macaroni and cheese as my refuge, and like any good friend, Panera never failed me. They never let me down. And when my last real test as a senior came and I could meet my friends there to help me understand what the heck had been going on for the past few months in Calc 2, I smiled thinking of all of the memories we have of staying there until 10 when they close at 9. Thank you, Panera, for getting me through high school.


I think all people should be like Panera. Offer your best and give it a fancy name, but keep loving people all the same. Let people in when they're crazy and gossiping about random things, but also let people in when they're desperate for study help. Be a place of love and acceptance and don't be extremely disappointed when people don't want your $5 macaroni and cheese and just want your wi-fi, but love them even more when they buy the You Pick 2 + a drink + pastry. 

May the world be as good as it is at Panera,
Meredith

10 comments:

  1. This post speaks to me on a personal level

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    1. Panera really hits everyone right in the heart (and the arteries) :)

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  2. That was so cute! I strive to be a "Panera person"!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Hahaha thank you!! Maybe I'm a Panera person... maybe I'm just cheap and go there too much.

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  3. I love panera omg I knew I liked you for a reason

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  4. YES! This post is perfect and so adorable.

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