March 06, 2007

Cutting All Ties

Okay, I'm not one for small talk. In fact, I think my skills when it comes to inter-personal communication have been deeply hindered by a combination of Web-based communication tools and a 9-5 office job with little interaction with actual, you know, PEOPLE. I'm most comfortable communicating via keyboard. Stephan Hawking has his voice synthesizer, I have MSN Messenger.

It goes beyond that, of course. I'm hyper-sensitive to ambient noise, so more often than not I miss over half of what's being said directly to my face because my focus is on that strange thumping noise coming from the wall 30 feet away. Because, seriously, what the hell is that noise? It's driving me CRAZY!

Anyway, all this is a segue into my sandwich purchasing experience at Subway last night, wherein the Sandwich Artist working the counter was one of those incessant chatter-boxes I've grown to know and dread.

For most people, perhaps 80 percent of the population, when you say "hey, how's it going?" you get the standard "Not bad; yourself, Rose McGowan?"

So, when I said "hey, how's it going?" to the Sandwich Artist last night and got back--complete with a dramatic stretching and rolling of the shoulders--"Oh, could be better; I went snowshoeing today, and I'm really sore."


Okay, I had a chit-chatter Sandwich Artist. Unfortunately, there was also a television tuned to some news program, and a couple sitting directly behind me discussing the possibility of getting a puppy which, honestly, was far more compelling than any narrative about snowshoeing could possibly be. My pathetic attention was torn asunder in three different directions.

Now, I have this thing when somebody is trying to talk directly to me, but I'm not really following, because there was apparently a storm front moving in and there are all the pros and cons about getting a black labradour retriever. And the thing is, if I'm not following the person trying to talk directly to me, I go ahead and pretend I got every word perfectly.

The tricky thing about pretending you heard everything perfectly, when in fact you absorbed only about 40 percent, is it's up to you to hold up your end of the conversation based on less than half the information required to conjure a coherent response. Oh, sure, I can occasionally get away with "you got that right," or "I hear ya," or "storm front's moving in," but I've developed an unfortunate tendency to just chortle a little laugh in the hopes the person said something even remotely a little bit funny.

This is a double-edged sword. On the one sharp edge, perhaps the person did, in fact, say something they think is funny, and my laugh has emboldened them to spout more inane blather I'll have to respond to. On the other sharp edge, they could have just told me their significant other died the other day, so my laugh is completely inappropriate, and now I've deeply insulted the person PREPARING MY FOOD!

In the case of last night's Sandwich Artist, my laugh was of the emboldening variety, so he continued to go on and on about. . . I have no idea what. Eventually, the conversation came back to something I was actually focused on: my sandwich. I had ordered a foot long Roma Ciabatta, something something, and I said "you don't need to cut it." I've said this to every Sandwich Artist I've ever encountered, going back more than ten years now.

For some reason, Sandwich Artists have been trained, almost to an instinctive level, to slice footlong sandwiches into two equal parts. I have no idea why this is. Personally, I prefer an intact, non-bifurcated hoagie. That's just my preference. And, so long as I instructed the Sandwich Artist to hold their slicing hand at the appropriate time, I've never had any problem getting an intact sandwich.

Until last night.

ME: That looks good. And you don't need to cut it.

SANDWICH ARTIST: Actually. . . I do.

This had never happened before. I was being second guessed by an over-talkative Sandwich Artist. Of course, at first I did my little chortle laugh, which was basically a kind of conversational place-holder while I considered my next verbal move. Of course, in that precious interval, my sandwich was evenly clove in two.

ME: Why do you have to cut it?

SANDWICH ARTIST: It's easier to eat this way.

Now, admittedly, I'm not a certified Sandwich Artist; I don't know all there is to know about the secret world of the hoagie. But, I think it's fair to say I've sampled both sliced and un-sliced sandwiches and detected no quantifiable differential in their relative ease of edibleness.

In fact, if anything, I think a sliced sandwich may be slightly less easier to eat because, depending on the point of slicification, the ingredients (I'm thinking mainly tomatoes here) can sometimes be cut at odd points, meaning they can actually fall out of the sandwich before it even reaches your mouth because they've been hewn apart and have no significant hold to the rest of the sandwich. I think you all know what I'm talking about here.

I know this sounds strange, but the moment that Sandwich Artist drove his knife into my sandwich, he also drove a deep wedge into any possibility we'd ever eventually be friends. Just minutes before, I was 40 percent willing to listen to his snowshoeing experience; but at the instant of slicing, I wanted nothing more to do with the presumptuous, knife-weilding Sandwich Artist. He was less an "Artist" to me than he was a mere sandwich assassin.

In fact, I don't think I'll ever go to that particular Subway store ever again.

So there.

UPDATED: This post has been slightly edited to make certain non-bloggers of the world happy.

Posted by Ryan at March 6, 2007 11:17 AM | TrackBack

Dude, you have three paragraphs in a row beginning with "Now."

Thuh-ree. In a row.

Posted by: Joshua at March 6, 2007 12:33 PM

Seeing as how you're not even blogging any more, I can't see how you're in any position to criticize.

Posted by: Ryan at March 6, 2007 01:39 PM

Alright then, dude, you had three paragraphs all starting with "Now". Or you did. My grammatical sin is starting too many sentences with "And" or "So".

As for Subway, until they get rid of Jared, I'm not giving them another penny. That ad-train has been completely and totally played out.

Also, I really like the word "slicification", it sounds like what the local hoodlums get up to after dark here.

Posted by: Erik at March 6, 2007 02:48 PM

Three comments:

1. Jared's fish lips creep me out. I don't understand why Subway's ad executives think he would appeal to any prospective customers.

2. Subway is notoriously cheap with their sandwich toppings. I like their tuna sandwiches (Jared's fish lips notwithstanding), but they seem to have a policy of scraping off some of the tuna spread after they put it on the bread. They use the back of their spatulas, and they just smear off the "extra."

3. I have the same problem you do with noticing every noise, broadcast, and conversation in a room, but I've always assumed it was because I'm a woman and a mom. I've actually heard that women's brains are hard-wired to track multiple interactions at once, because they're usually the ones who are responsible for monitoring the kids. I don't cope as politely as you, though. When people like the Subway artist start talking to me, I just stare at them blankly.

Posted by: Snow Queen at March 7, 2007 09:26 AM

As a former Sandwich Artist (at the 37th St. Subway, no less), I can assure you that if properly done with a sharp enough knife, the two halves of a footlong will be tight and solid, like good masonry. It will only require one hand to eat that way, and you'll never have to deal with the dreaded "sandwich sag."

That being said, I couldn't imagine the sort of twit this guy was to tell you you can't have the sandwich uncut. It was an infrequent request, but I can assure you that no policies are in place at Subway to prevent you from requesting an intact footlong. To each his own, ya know?

How is the new sandwich, BTW? The Subway at my mall is subpar to say the least, so I try to avoid even testing new stuff unless it's something special. Is it worth the risk?

Posted by: Sean at March 9, 2007 11:16 PM

The taste is actually pretty good, but the Ciabatta bread (if toasted) makes for some pretty tough chewing. My jaw was exhausted after gnawing that thing. Beyond that, can't complain.

Posted by: Ryan at March 9, 2007 11:23 PM
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