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New Year's resolution at Subway

Eat fresh or die.

It's the new year and one of my resolutions for 2007 is to eat healthier. The past two weeks have been filled with smoked meat, sausage balls and other afflictions. The snacking was interrupted only by meals, after which the munching resumed.

So now I'm bound to get back on the right track and start eating better. Based on what television says, Subway is just the place to go. The thing about Subway, I've found, is that you have to watch their commercials very closely.

You know how they tell you the ingredients of their specialty sammiches and you're supposed to be all impressed? They're not trying to impress you, they're trying to teach you! You must memorize those ingredients. If you don't, the people behind the counter will be lost.

I went out for lunch today to get a Chipotle Southwest Steak & Cheese (I'm easing into the healthy stuff) and when I ordered, the guy behind the counter, Curt, gave me the look. You know the look, the one where you order what's on the menu yet they look at you like you're the idiot.

I swear right after I ordered it, he stared at me for five seconds solid and then looked over his shoulder at the big menu for another five. Then he got this sort of confused look and asked me what kind of bread I wanted.

"Honey wheat."

Curt's two out of two for slicing the bread down the middle and looking puzzled as to what happens next.

"What, uh, what do you want on it?"

Now I know for certain I'm in trouble. See, he's not asking me what I want on the completed sandwich, he's asking me what goes on the sandwich. His hands are not moving, and will not move until I begin listing ingredients.

In all my life I have never been to a restaurant (fast food or no) where the people working there did not know how to make what was on the menu. How is this possible? Subway has a University, for chirssakes!

I mean, if it were Burger King I wouldn't expect to be quizzed on the ingredients of the Whopper. Though, thanks to their old marketing campaign, I could probably skate through that one. Unfortunately for Subway, "Hot steak, grilled onions and peppers, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, green peppers and Chipotle Southwest sauce" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, lyric-wise.

So here I am having to think back through the commercial and hope against hope they even have the required ingredients.


This is not my beautiful sub.

"It has steak on it, definitely steak. Lettuce, tomatoes. But I don't want any lettuce. Onions and green peppers. Hold the green peppers. And the onions. Cheese. And some sort of sauce."

"Teriyaki?"

"No."

"Ranch?"

"Hmm. No."

"What kind of cheese?"

"Swiss?"

"Which one's that?"

"The one with the holes."

I'm now staring at what appears to be a roast beef, not steak, sub with tomatoes and swiss.

"You want mayo?"

"Sure."

"How 'bout eight tablespoons?"

Up until this point I didn't realize the mortar and trowel played such a large part in the sandwich-making process. But I guess if I'd gone to Subway University I'd be more up on these things.

"What about the sauce?"

"You didn't want any."

"Isn't there some sort of chipotle sauce?"

Curt responded to this with the longest sigh in recorded history. I know that sigh; it's like the look, but directed at the universe in general.

"There might be some sauce in the back."


Artist's rendering, based on my imagination.

These sauces, all sauces at every restaurant, are stored in buckets. I wasn't in the mood to have him haul out some bucket and either a) pour from the bucket right onto my sub, or b) lose his shit and start bathing in the chipotle sauce.

"No, that's okay. How about just some oil & vinegar and black pepper?"

"Sure."

"And can you heat it up?"

Maybe I'm spoiled, but I don't like cold subs all that much. And Subway tends to not offer the toasting service up front. On the commercials it's hot sandwich this and toasty sub that, but when I was there the ovens were being used to hold bookbags, a laptop and a dozing Cambodian boy.

"Hey, wake up! Wake up! Customer wants his sandwich hot. Sandwich! Hot! You! Out! You out!"

There was a short argument between the two of them in what I assume was Cambodian, but eventually the boy shrugged his shoulders and climbed into a bread rack where he resumed his slumber.

Five minutes later, a hot roast beef and swiss emerged.

"You want chips or anything to drink?"

"Yeah, chips and a drink."

"You want a combo?"

"What's the combo?"

"Sandwich, chips and a drink."

"I'll take the combo."

"Yeah, good choice. It's cheaper that way. Okay, Chipotle Southwest Steak & Cheese Combo, that'll be $7.49. Credit or debit?"

"I only have a roast beef and swiss."

"What did you order?"

"The Chipotle Steak sandwich, but that's not what I have."

"I can't help you, sir. A roast beef combo is only $5.49 and if I ring that up you know where the last $2 comes from? It comes out of my pocket."

"But there's no steak or chipotle sauce on this thing!"

"Sir, if you had wanted a roast beef sandwich you should have said so at the start. I can't have people coming in here ordering the veggie sub and then substituting lettuce for a half pound of bacon. We would go out of business."

"But that's, that's about the most opposite of my situation as anything could be!

"Keep you voice down, sir, you'll wake up Rangsay!"

I looked over at the Cambodian boy who was snoring between two loaves of honey wheat. I lowered my voice to a whisper.

"Fine, charge me whatever you want, this is the last time I'm coming here."


Rangsay?

I picked up my sandwich and chips and made my way to the drink machine. Rangsay stirred and said something to Curt that I could not understand. They nodded at each other, and continued nodding slowly as they turned their heads in my direction. It seemed as though they were waiting for me to leave, which I soon did.

But something didn't feel right. I stopped a few yards outside the door, turned, and walked hurriedly back in. At this point there should be a really fast zoom-in on my face and, in particular, my widening eyes. There they were, Rangsay and Curt, doing a little victory dance, eating my steak and dipping it in the sauce bucket! I couldn't contain my anger.

"YOU!"

The two froze, the only sound was of Chipotle Southwest sauce dripping southwestily off of steak strips onto the floor. I began walking quickly towards them, but as soon as I made a move they took off running through the supply room. I pursued them only as far as behind the counter because I was distracted by the man tied up and gagged there on the floor.

I untied him and helped him to his feet.

"What is all this, what's going on here?"

The man caught his breath and explained that Curt and Rangsay had come in, threatened him with a gun and tied him up, then began robbing the register. But a customer walked in mid-robbery so they began taking orders and making sandwiches so as not to be suspicious. That was two weeks ago.

"You've been tied up for two weeks?"

"Yes, but thank you, thank you so much for rescuing me! Is there anything I can do for you?"

"How about a sandwich? I don't think I can eat this one."

"Oh of course, sir, of course. And what sandwich would you like?"

"Hmm...how about the Spicy Italian?"

He looked at me for a moment, then down at the counter. Then back at me.

"Bread?"

"Anything but honey wheat."

"Very good. So...Spicy Italian?"

"Yes, thank you."

"What, uh, what do you want on it?"

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