“You Don’t Want to Know”

Long-time Panera regular comes by to shake my hand and wish me good morning. Says Shalom because she knows we’re both Jewish. Cups my right hand warmly with both of hers and smiles, then moves on to next table.

Makes the rounds greeting regulars and first-timers: old couple sitting side by side eating oatmeal and drinking coffee, four concerned citizens parsing the week’s events.

“Where have you been?” the old man asks. “We missed you,” his wife adds.

“You don’t want to know,” she answers, then adds, “You missed me like a cold.”

The First to Know

She studied so hard under the watchful guidance of her tutor. Math was a stickler subject but so was science. She prepped for her grad school exams, took her grad school exams, and failed her grad school exams. She prepped again, took them again, failed them again. Then she prepped for them once more.

In time we became Panera friends and I learned that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother and become a scientist. I became a source of encouragement.

Today she approached me quietly but excitedly. I felt her approaching presence and looked up from my screen. She whispered, “I just wanted you to be the first to know: I passed.”

She hurried off to the restroom as I called, “I’m proud of you.”