The Clueless Masses

My membership in the Writers’ Room doesn’t start until next week,  so I spent the afternoon at Panera Bread, nursing a diet soda and indulging in a lot of people watching and very little writing.

I came in right around noon, and the place was mobbed.  Dozens of impatient office workers tapping their feet, checking their watches, emailing, calling; anything other than just standing around wasting time.  Adults seem to have turned into toddlers-they need constant activity and distractions to keep them from whining while waiting in line.  How many times has that woman in front of me sighed loudly?  Wow.  Maybe I should let her play with my keys to pass the time.  Or perhaps the nice manager could bring her crayons and some crackers to prevent a complete meltdown.

The good news is that lunchtime was primo eavesdropping.  I’ve learned a lot.  Apparently everyone in the world works for a moron, with a bunch of idiots, for a completely incompetent organization about to crash and burn.  Man.  If they were running the place things would be a lot better.

First of all, what’s up with the sales department?  Those guys do whatever the hell they want all day, and when they finally get around to closing a sale they want a freakin’ parade or something.  And IT?  Do they stay awake at night thinking of ways to make sure the system sucks?

HR?  Don’t even ask.  They live to make everyone else’s life miserable.  And marketing?  Where do you even start with that crowd?  They spend a lot of time “brainstorming” which is really just code for goofing off.   When it comes right down to it, my department is the most understaffed, overworked, undervalued…you get the idea.  There are apparently a lot of heroes out there saving the world from worthless people.

Later, closer to 4:00, the after school crowd is starting to wander in, and it appears to be dinnertime for the elderly.

The school kids tell their parents all about the clueless teachers and mean principals and insane amount of homework, and the elderly complain mostly about the cost of everything, including the lousy little bowl of soup they’re tucking into as we speak.  The overall theme, once again, is just how annoying it is to deal with the world and its inhabitants.

When I was leaving I decided to grab Dan a cookie or something.  I was back in line, and when one of the cashiers waved me forward I hesitated for a moment because the previous customer was still standing there.  She waved to me again and I sort of stood to the side of the register while the guy who had already ordered and paid stood right in front of the register chatting away on his phone, oblivious.  At some point as the cashier and I shouted over him he caught a clue and very, very slowly moved forward.

The cashier gave a fairly respectable eye roll (a 7.3 on a scale of 1 to 10) and said she gets customers like that all day.  Idiots, every last one of them.  I told her I understood.  I really would have loved to tell her that the guy in front of me was preoccupied because he was singlehandedly running an organization in which he was surrounded by morons, but the timing just didn’t seem right.  Maybe next time.

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6 Responses to The Clueless Masses

  1. mimijk says:

    All of this is fodder for your writing…It helps when trying to write ‘real people’ dialogue (depressing as it may be).

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      Ah Mimi, yet another reason I can’t write fiction and no longer try. The Great American Novel does not seem to be anywhere inside me. 🙂

  2. Betsey says:

    I don’t think any office in America has a conference room anymore. I’ve sat in on countless meetings and trainings as well as a few interviews in Starbucks, la Madeleine and Panera.

  3. Lisa says:

    Love panera. Were you really there for four hours?

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