Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another Panera Visit

Frequent readers of my site are familiar with my visits to Panera (a local bakery/coffee shop/specialty sandwich shop). I’ve noticed that on the weekends, get a little coffee and a bagel in me and I wax poetic.

Actually, what happens is that while I’m at Panera, life slows down for a few minutes and I can watch the people slip past me like bits of flotsam in a woodland stream. I watch their expressions, their stances. Written across their faces you can see their doubts, their concerns, their joys, triumphs, and mistakes.

It has now become an almost weekly journey to visit my local Panera as I have now become addicted to their raspberry cream cheese on my chocolate chip bagel – I know, it’s not exactly the most healthy breakfast, but it’s got to be better than nothing.

But this isn’t what I wanted to comment on. For the past three weeks, I’ve had the same woman wait on me. She’s a sweet woman with a pleasant smile even they are extremely busy. But what strikes me is her wonderful accent. I’m not sure where she’s from, possibly England, but I could be way off.

The accent stands out because most accents where I live are varying degrees of a Southern drawl. I love her accent because it’s clean and lovely; a caress of the English language. I love her accent because despite the fact that she now finds herself in this small town in Northern Kentucky, she’s carries with her a part of her past to share with the world.

When we travel or move, we can change our name, our appearance, and even lie about our past, but an accent can be so much harder to shed. It’s ingrained into our brains as if it were burned into our tongues. I’ve worked hard to get rid of my southern accent with mixed results. In most circumstances, my accent is slight, not extremely noticeable. Yet, when I lose my temper, the accent comes screaming back as I’m no longer consciously working to mute it. An accent can be very much a part of who we are, no matter how hard we try to change it.

5 comments:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I love accents. I'm from N.Ky and I know people that have different ranges of accents, and it's definitely cool to hear.

I must say that I LOVE Panera bread though. Do you go to the one by Borders?

-lauren

Chris said...

I've lived in Georgia since I was six, and I've always been told I have a neutral accent--not southern at all.

My mother has a definite southern belle accent. When she speaks I want to go out on the veranda and sip mint juleps. I have some lady friends who also have a pronounced southern accent. To me, it comes across as classy and charming. Who knows. Maybe it's because they're classy and charming ladies to begin with. But the southern accent doesn't hurt. :)

I love going to the Atlanta Bread Company (the more prevalent version of Panera here, although there are some Panera shops). I think a bagel is calling me...

Heather Harper said...

I worked hard with my voice and diction coach to achieve a generic American accent when I was a Theater major. Totally reverted back to my Southern Okie accent after college.

Sigh.

And when I lived in Boston, it only took a few months before I was saying "park the car" like a native. ;-)

Christine said...

I love accents, too. I think I even pay better attention to what people with accents say, just because I'm a bit enthralled. ;)

I love Panera's Fuji Apple Chicken Salad. But they took it off the menu for the summer. *pout*

Driftsmoke said...

I have a thick accent from my old home days. I could drop it with a little concentration and effort, but I make a conscious choice to keep it. I somehow believe that if I forget the past, I'll be destined to repeat it. ;)

That said, I love sitting somewhere, especially in a coffee shop and people watching/listening.