My office is in the middle of a freeway. This is unfortunate when I forget/don’t make/don’t like my homemade lunch, but cannot afford to take an hour to drive the 100 miles or whatever it is to the nearest shopping center. There are only three options within walking distance: a questionably clean or fresh Asian-run deli, an overpriced, super greasy Asian-run deli, or a Subway™ brand sandwich shop. My choices basically boil down to: food poisoning, afternoon nap in my cube, or cheap, flavorless lumps of bread and stuff.
The choice I am forced to make is sadly obvious.
Somehow (probably due to some karmic, cosmic mischief I don’t understand) I always manage to get stuck in line behind the most disrespectful, tragically inarticulate individuals at Subway™ sandwich facilities. It never happens in a Quiznos™, so it cannot simply be my luck with line-style sandwich shops, and it has never happened while waiting for a table in a sit-down restaurant, leaving me to believe it is isolated to the strange world that is Subway™.
I have a theory that Subway™ suffers from the “Walmart Phenomenon“. Due to advertised low prices and a multitude of locations, these places seem to draw crowds of cheap, ignorant, poorly dressed people. These people are quite possibly the worst kind of people on the entire planet. The kind that take advantage of anything and everything they can, enjoying a standard of living unseen in many other parts of the world but still constantly complaining about their downtrodden plight. They are quite astute at verbally projecting this attitude everywhere they go, however socially inappropriate it might be.
The first time I had an encounter with a disheveled denizen of Subway™ was on Benning Road, in South East Washington DC. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it is the kind of place a person like me should never be for any reason whatsoever. I was in the employ of a man who did not at all care about his workers, doing IT work for a public charter school. It is very difficult to bring a lunch with you as a roaming IT professional; you cannot keep anything fresh if you have to leave it in your car/parked oven, and very few clients are happy with you squatting like a monkey in a corner of their server room while you eat a chicken salad sandwich. You are pretty much forced to eat on the go, or not eat at all.
One day at this school, I finally got sick of my stomach digesting itself, and decided that the Subway I spied in a strip mall was the safest lunch option available. Upon entering, I noticed that this particular Subway had no tables, chairs, displays or other sundry items that are normally scattered about the room. Instead, it had 6 inch bullet proof glass with tiny holes carved at strategic points, so that customers could literally yell their orders to the Sandwich Technicians™ on the other side.
I got in line behind several other customers, most of who seemed angry with something even though nothing in their immediate environment was actually a problem. I quietly minded my own business and avoided eye contact with everyone until it was my turn to order. Just as I was about to step up to the “window” and yell my order, a young women stepped directly in front of me in a very fluid, ninja like fashion, and began to order her sandwich. Given the location, I decided sheathe my contentious side.
The woman was easily the most indecisive person I have ever seen. It took her nearly 2 full minutes to choose a bread style (from 5 possible options), and then she changed her mind from turkey to roast beef, then back to turkey, in 30 seconds flat. She was yelling far louder than necessary, even with the bullet proof glass, making all of the already uncomfortable customers even more uncomfortable. She finally arrived at the vegetable selection window, where she demanded the Sandwich Technician™ add copious amount of “MATERS” to her sub. The employee was clearly confused, so the woman repeated, louder, “MATERS!!! RED, ROUND; MA-TERS.” The employee pointed at the onions. This was a bad idea. The woman exploded into a beserker rage, akin to a viking warrior charging into battle screaming, “TO-MA-TOES!!MATAS! WHAT IS SO #$@^ HARD ABOUT THAT!?” The poor, minimum wage sandwich guy quickly loaded her sandwich up with many tomatoes. In defense of the employee, technically a mater is one half of a set of breeders, not a sandwich topping.
In a huff, she moved to the payment window (which was actually a bulletproof lazy-susan) where she informed the clerk, upon seeing the total price, that she did not have enough money to pay for her sub. The clerk would not relinquish the sub through the bulletproof lazy-susan. Surprisingly against all prior evidence, the woman calmly said, “&#$% you” and walked out.
If this had been my only run-in, I would have chalked it up to an angry lady and some mis-communication caused by counter-to-ceiling bulletproof plexi, but this kind of thing happens all the time. Not a month ago I came across a woman who wanted more banana peppers than humanly reasonable, but did not want to pay the 35 cents for an extra topping. She regressed into a sort of animal rage, snorting all kinds of obscenities and wailing her limbs wildly over this 35 cents. In most cases, a person is only paying 5 dollars for the 12 inch, 900+ calorie sandwich, so an argument over 7% of that seems a tad ridiculous.
I was also witness to a girl who requested to speak to a manager because her chocolate chip cookies were too “old”. This girl had no business eating cookies in the first place (nor the 3 lbs of mayonnaise drenched meat she had ordered before that) but that did not stop her from demanding that the entire place grind to a halt to bake her fresh cookies. If not for my fear of being publicly murdered by a stranger, I might have said something.
I will attempt to chronicle any future, extraordinary Subway™ tales in this blog. To close, and offer a little more insight into mental processes, here is a picture of what I was imagining the entire time I was writing this post: