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Braving the cold weather and snowy streets, my friend and I drove downtown to eat lunch at Pato Thai. Once we paid for parking and carefully rushed down the sidewalk to the entrance to Pato Thai, we glanced in the window and saw an empty restaurant, booths pushed up against the walls and the lights turned out, not a server in sight.

“No!” my friend yelled, drawing some attention from other people walking down San Francisco Street.

We hurried back to her car and drove around screaming how disappointed we were. Pato Thai is our place — we are loyal customers that go every week. For it to be closed on a Sunday because they were moving to a new location next to Firecreek Coffee Company felt like a betrayal to us, although it was actually for an understandable reason.

I looked up the hours for Dara Thai as we passed Swadee Thai a few blocks away from Pato Thai. We stopped on the street and looked at Swadee Thai’s store front.

“Is it open?” I asked at a closed window.

There was a young man shoveling the snow from the sidewalk. My friend rolled down the window and whispered to me, “Ask him.”

I call out to the guy and he said, “Yeah, they’re open.”

My friend and I looked at each other and I asked if we should try a new place. We ended up having lunch there and we were pleasantly surprised that Swadee Thai was almost as good as or, dare I say, better than Pato Thai. The atmosphere was nice, with customers chattering, and the aesthetic of the place was colorful and eye-catching. It was different from the Christmas lights that are always on at Pato Thai.

It’s always nice to find hidden gems in Flagstaff. I’ve lived here for four years and I still haven’t tried all the restaurants downtown. This whole experience taught both of us that we shouldn’t be so stubborn about trying new places and to just go with the flow sometimes. We were so upset that Pato Thai wasn’t open when they usually are, but if we went there, we would have never experienced Swadee Thai.

A lot of the time, I don’t like to change my mind about things because I want to stick to my opinions that I already passionately told everyone around me. There were a lot of times that people have told me that Swadee Thai was really good and I should try it. Every time I swore that Pato Thai was the best — saying anything else seemed sacrilegious.

I have to remember that it is OK to change your mind on your opinions because someone or something might introduce you to something that is way better. It’s good to practice an open mind in any situation. Especially now when opinions about topics seem to be so solidified for so many people about race, immigrants and healthcare.

If you’re living your life thinking your opinion is the right one, you’re probably wrong. All good journalists and politicians express open minds to subjects while still keeping their main morals. To understand where anyone comes from and to have empathy for their struggles, people need to have an open mind while listening.

I almost fell victim to this, on a smaller scale of course, but this whole Thai experience made me think of what could have happened if we stuck to our routine. We wouldn’t have experienced another good Thai place, had yummy sticky rice, spicy noodles or cute mason jars filled with Thai tea.

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Ariel Cianfarano is the managing editor of The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University's student newspaper. College Chronicles aims to connect FlagLive! readers to various aspects of campus life.

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