It's just not the same at Panera anymore. It used to be fun to go in there, make up names, and wait for the bread DJ to call you out. You only had to know how to spell the name you made up (see my previous post: http://carpoolguy.blogspot.com/2005/08/todays-sky-report_18.html).
Today, hoping to have more fake name fun, I went back. This time, I planned to give a name that was easy to spell, yet which still might garner some kind of reaction. Waiting in line with my lunch partner, it was agreed that she would give a guy's name and I'd use a girl's name. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned that they no longer depend upon names to match you to your repast. They now have the vibrating, light-flashing coasters popularized by chain restaurants that refuse to take reservations (the Outback, for example). So, I dutifully placed my order, at the same time struggling with my disappointment over the new and not-so-improved paging system. After she punched everything in, I was delighted to hear her ask for a name. Rather than ask her about the redundancy, I simply said "Sue". She never missed a beat as she punched it in. No eye contact, no quizzical look, no barely suppressed giggle. Nothing. All the fun of fake names is gone. I debated for a minute leaving my order on the counter for a bit, hoping that they would call me out, but hunger took first place over humor, and I picked up my order shortly after the lights flashed.
Incidentally, my lunch partner chickened out on giving a man's name.