Thursday, August 19, 2004


Let’s delve into selfish, tedious minutiae, shall we?

I burned the hell out of my hand today at the Au Bon Pain in Tufts-New England Medical Center. Foreshadowing for this years came ago, when, knowing the site was open around the clock, I went there for dinner while working a late shift at the Boston Herald. The door I usually go in was locked, and to get in I had to (through an intercom) ask, beg, debate and finally heap scorn upon a security guard controlling access to the building.

What I should have done is take the long walk around the building and to the emergency room entrance, which is what I’ve done since for late-night visits. That door’s open all the time. I wonder if the security guard knows.

Regardless, the clam chowder burn I suffered on my left hand came of holding a weak cardboard bowl while scooping -- awkward. The bowl warped, wilted and the blistering-hot soup glopped onto me, then the counter.

This is how it’s done now. This Au Bon Pain did away with its trays, you see.

When they disappeared a few months ago, I didn’t catch on immediately. Chalking it up to the chain’s usual poor sense of organization, I spent a while walking around looking for them before finally asking a manager, who explained that so many trays had disappeared from the restaurant that it finally made sense just to cut them out of the budget.

To save me incendiary agony they could have:

... offered an intermittent reward for people bringing back a tray, such as 10 percent off a meal. This would have worked as coupons do, making more money for the company while making customers think they’re getting away with something (other than something to put under their office’s potted plant);

... inundated the restaurant, and therefore the hospital, with so many of these cheap plastic trays that their value -- even as something to lazily steal each lunchtime -- drops into minus territory. With translucent plastic trays multiplying like the creatures in the later reels of “Gremlins,” chances are good that people would be begging Au Bon Pain to take them back.

But these things did not happen. And now I will be suing Au Bon Pain for millions of dollars. Although there are no visible burns on my hand, and it is fully functional, I am clearly suffering. My readers may also want to sue, for their second-hand pain and suffering.

1 comment:

Indri said...

Perhaps they're actually concerned that patrons suffering chowder rage will use the trays as blunt objects?

Perhaps the trays could be fitted with those exploding-ink things they put in expensive clothes at fancy boutiques?

Sorry to hear about your hand. Ouch! Sounds like we're having the same day.