You have probably read about the massive power outages in CT that left about 750,000 residents without power, and definitely without Internet service. As I write this, one-week after the freak October snowstorm that knocked down power lines, cable Internet is still out although lights and heat have returned. In our connected world, people must have their Internet; that’s why the few coffee shops in the Canton, CT area that had power and wireless connections have looked like refugee camps the last week. I have hung out with my laptop at the Panera in Canton a couple of times, sharing power strips with other refugees and sipping on a single cup of coffee for an hour at a time. And that’s what has been remarkable about the Panera in Canton; not once have any of the employees strolled through the dining room looking for malingerers. They haven’t even encouraged anyone, even subtly, to buy a cookie, soup or a sandwich. Sure, they are probably selling more soup and sandwiches than they typically do because they have been wall to wall, but Panera seems to have captured more of the spirit of community than of commerce during this trying time for its patrons. The food at Panera, which is always decent, is nevertheless not destination worthy. But I’d bet that many of the first timers who came to Panera to log on, not strap on a feedbag, will return at later times. The restaurant’s kindness will be repaid, by me and by others.
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