Vibes at Panera

The back room is packed when I arrive at Panera. Pass young couple discussing immigration policies of national politicians, father feeding infant girl, mother restraining young boy. Woman with mole on her cheek sits by wall, recounting shopping adventure with hollow-eyed woman in shawl. Young couple holding hands, eating bagels, solemnly planning tasks of the day.

Spot lone empty seat. It’s mine!

When you sit long enough at one table, the table becomes marked as yours. Your spirit remains when your body leaves. Even first-timers leave it free. Vibe becomes your maître d’.