Have you ever had the feeling you were on a hidden camera show because of the sheer incompetence of the person you’re interacting with?
Here’s what happened:
Normally I run home for lunch, but I’d had a Target errand to run and was short on time, so I decided to grab a sandwich from Subway instead. I still had 20 minutes left, which should have been plenty of time. There were only three people ahead of me in line, which wasn’t terrible. But there was only ONE guy behind the counter, and he was responsible for everything from sandwich making to ringing up orders. I’d been so smug about skipping the drive-through and going inside to order, thinking the service would be quicker because so many people are loathe to get out of their cars these days. So much for that theory.
Naturally, because I was in a hurry, the line dragged. I contemplated cutting my losses and moving on, but like a person stuck in a relationship with a partner who hasn’t turned out to be The One after all, I decided I’d invested too much time to call it quits. Sure, there were snacks in my desk at work, but those black olives, cayenne pepper almonds, and Fun Size pack of peanut M&Ms that are probably stale because they’ve been there since Halloween sounded neither satisfying nor nutritious, so I soldiered on. I kept glancing at my watch willing time to slow down, but it rudely kept going at a rate of sixty seconds per minute.
At one point Subway Dude yelled, “I could use some help out here!” At the time I assumed he was pleading with invisible coworkers in the back, but in retrospect, he may have been addressing the voices inside his head. Or maybe he was talking to the customers. I’m pretty sure I could have done a better job myself, and I haven’t even graduated from Subway University or wherever aspiring sandwich makers go to learn their trade.
(This is not a knock on Subway, by the way. I’m actually a big fan and go there more than any other fast-food place.)
I should have known things would not go well when the guy in front of me ordered a footlong on white and Subway Dude pulled out a 6” Italian herb and cheese. When the customer told him it was supposed to be white bread, Subway Dude corrected his mistake but still had the wrong size. Third time was a charm, but then he started to assemble a chicken sandwich instead of ham. I contemplated cutting my losses and giving up, but a mental inventory of the snack situation in my desk yielded black olives, cayenne pepper almonds, and a Fun Size pack of peanut M&Ms left over from Halloween. Hardly satisfying and certainly not nutritious, so I was forced to soldier on.
Nearly 20 minutes later I’d finally reached the front of the line and ordered my usual: a six-inch tuna on wheat. But Subway Dude pulled out a footlong roll.
“That’s supposed to be a six-inch,” I said.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have any six-inch wheat rolls,” he apologized. What he did have, conveniently located in his right hand, was a serrated-edge knife. The look on his face when he realized he could cut the footlong roll into two six-inch halves with said implement was priceless.
I was beginning to wonder what this guy was on, because it sure didn’t seem like planet earth.
When it came time to choose my toppings, I asked for tomatoes first. Subway Dude nailed that selection and was off to a blazing start! But when I requested cucumbers, things went sideways. He grabbed a fistful of bell peppers instead and spread them on my sandwich. Which…okay, fine. I don’t mind bell peppers and asking him to start over felt like asking for trouble, so I let it slide.
I asked for pickles next. Subway Dude reached into that pile of bell peppers again like a man obsessed with them and piled on more. I mean, at least all the veggies were green, right? That in itself seemed like a small victory. If nothing else, I knew Subway Dude wasn’t colorblind.
“What next?” he asked.
“How about some pickles?” I replied. Because I’m a goddamn sadist, I guess. Morbid curiosity had me wondering just how high that stack of bell peppers might get before it toppled over. Imagine my surprise when he actually gave me pickles. I guess the third time really is the charm!
Subway Dude was one-for-one now and on a roll, so I decided to take a gamble and ask for onions. He got those correct, but the majority of them ended up on the counter instead of my sandwich. Probably because he was busy staring off into space, oblivious to where the toppings were landing. I should’ve quit while I was ahead.
I have no idea what Subway Dude’s glitch was. Could’ve been high. Could’ve been stupid. Could’ve been a figment of my imagination because the whole experience felt like a dream at that point.
When he asked me if I wanted a drink with my sandwich, I practically screamed “NO!!!” The last thing in the world I wanted to see was him pouring iced tea into his cupped hands or onto the floor.
I got back to work ten minutes late, apologized for my tardiness, and told my boss, “I just had the worst experience of my life at Subway…
…but holy crap, this is going to make one hell of a great blog post!”