I have mastered the art of ordering at Subway. As for the fear of sandwiches, I still hesitate before I step into a build-your-own sandwich place.
In retrospect, it was no big deal. But at the time, I felt rather stupid.
Consider this. There are at least five decision points and over fifty variables that you got to deal with before you can order a sandwich at a place like the Subway.
It all started with a casual trip to the nearby shopping mall. I was new to Canada and was in part job hunting and part window shopping when I ended up at the food court and decided to have a bite. I picked Subway since I had never eaten there before. After consulting the overhead display board I decided to order a BLT.
“A BLT please,” I said as my turn came up. It was lunch hour.
“Sandwich or salad?” the girl behind the counter was in the midst of completing her previous order.
Huh? I thought this was a sandwich place. She patiently explained that I can have any of the displayed items in the form of a salad or a sandwich.
I decided to go with the sandwich.
I hesitated, I didn’t know of any sandwiches that did not include bread.
“Yes,” I said confidently.
I could sense that was not the right answer from the look on her face.
“What kind of bread, Sir?” She was not smiling anymore.
I wanted to say “regular bread,” but I caught myself.
“What are my choices?” I looked around to see if there was some sort of a hint at picking the right bread. As she rattled off multiple options that I didn’t recognize, I heard “wheat.” So, I decided to go with wheat.
“What size?” She was focused on the bread that she had pulled out from the shelf, than me.
Size? I just wanted a sandwich, not a shirt.
She looked up and was more explicit, “foot-long’’ or 6’’?” I went with the larger one.
“Cheddar,” the only one I knew other than Amul, the Indian brand of processed cheese.
“What would you like in it?” The question came from the second girl behind the counter.
“BLT, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato,” I assumed that she was not aware of my original order.
“Yes, but what would you like in it?” She was less friendly.
I was confused. I wanted to say BLT again, but it was clear that was expecting me to say something else.
She glanced behind me to indicate that I was holding up the line, and gestured towards trays of “toppings and extras” that was in front of her as if to say, “Look here you moron, pick from these.”
There were over a dozen items that were on display. I had no idea what went well with a BLT.
“Do you have a default option?” I asked, hoping that there was a standard BLT version that would enable me to skip the decisions.
“Default?” clearly, I had lost her.
I tried a different tack, “Can I have a bit of everything?”
She didn’t answer but went on to start piling up my sandwich with a bit of everything displayed at the counter.
With a sense of relief, I started to move towards the cashier when she asked, “Sauce?”
“Which one?” Once again she rattled off the names. I picked the only name I recognized – Barbecue.
Sensing that I was done, I moved towards the cashier.
“Would you like to make that a combo?” It was the cashier’s turn to humiliate me.
Feeling guilty that I had held up the line, I said “yes.”
“Chips or cookies?”
“The one with the green picture,” I just wanted to be out of there.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to pick a drink. It came from a dispenser.
As I sat down exhausted from my sandwich ordering ordeal, I realized that there was no way that I could fit the sandwich that I had bought, into my mouth. While the “bit of everything option” let me off the hook, I now needed a fork to eat it. Not wanting to go back to the girl at the counter, I painstakingly ate as much of the sandwich as I could and left the rest.
As I left the mall, I felt that I could get a large capital project at work approved with fewer decision points and variables.
I should write to Subway.
They should have default options for each of their sandwiches, to avoid people like me holding up the line…
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