Today I skipped lunch, which is something I absolutely hate doing. Today I’m running from job to the next with almost no end in sight. Fortunately I have a tiny 30-minute window which will allow me to eat. Or so I thought. Briskly walking through No.3 Road in Richmond, I make my way to Nooch Snack & Chill. I’ve passed by it almost countless times on my bus trips to work, and I figure it’s high time I actually pay that place a visit.
While No.3 road sits as one of the most busy and prosperous areas in Downtown Richmond, the area in which Nooch is located is surprisingly dilapidated. Ironic that such a neglected area stands right in front of City Hall. Oh well. Further musings on irony will saved for another time. As I draw close to the entrance, I’m not really expecting a whole lot. Maybe just a cheap sandwich joint staffed with illegal immigrants.
Opening the door, I am rather shocked to see the place so…well…CLEAN. The walls are a sparkling white with red highlights to accent certain areas of the interior. The building is spotless, the area sparse, but with pleasing artistic drawings, couches, tables and chairs sparingly placed rather tastefully.
“I used to have a classmate in high school that kept cheeseburgers in his pockets. Seriously. And this was before Napoleon Dynamite ever came out.”
A friendly smile emerges from the cash desk. I’m hesitant. I have no idea what kind of stuff this place serves, so the man behind the counter helpfully suggests the more popular dishes. I choose one.
“Would you like that for here, or to go?”
I glance at my watch. It’s 5:45.
I sigh. So much for enjoying a relaxing meal. Ah well. It’s either 15 minutes or nothing. Sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have, and it’s either eat here real fast, or eat on the bus on the way home.
I do not like the idea of eating a meal on the bus.
I used to have a classmate in high school that kept cheeseburgers in his pockets. Seriously. And this was before Napoleon Dynamite ever came out.
I do not want to have that reputation with the people on the bus.
The decision is now obvious and easy.
“…I’ll just take it for here anyway…” I wince a little as I say this.
I hate being that jerk customer that stays after-hours to bug service workers. I work in a food court, and every time someone approaches me for coffee after the store has shut down, I feel like a little part of what makes me human dies inside.
Surprisingly enough, my host seems rather good-natured about it, offers me a seat, and gives the cook my order. Ham and Swiss Cheese Panini.
As I do my usual rounds of picture taking, my host strikes up a little bit of small talk. I try to explain to him that I’m really just a writer; I’m not trying to stake out the place. Nothing to worry about here!
The food arrives pretty quickly. I start ogling my plate. Sourdough Panini Bread encases a layer of Ham and Melted Swiss Cheese. Kettle-Boiled Potato Chips and Salad drenched in what appears to be a Balsamic Vinaigrette stand guard between the main course. I dig in.
The bread is delightfully warm and crunchy; a welcome change from the gross soggy Oatmeal-like sludge that often passes for warm Panini Bread. The Cheese is warm and thick, with a pleasantly mild tang. The Ham…is I think Safeway Select. Oh whatever, Ham is Ham.
The Potato Chips are either Miss Vickie’s or Kettle Boiled Chips. That’s fine, I like both brands.
I hastily down the meal as quickly as I can. I’m the only one left in the restaurant at this point. Ugh. I feel like that straggling, sickly Wildebeest (which always gets left behind in the group and dies) that you always see in those nature documentaries on Africa. It’s 6:05.
Expecting to see a menacing frown on my host, I do my best to excuse myself. He grins, seeming pretty chill about it, shakes my hand, gives me his name, and waves.
Well, Nooch Snack & Chill delivered on the chill part for sure. I guess even the sickly Wildebeest can have its place in the pack after all.