I enjoy sandwiches. Who doesn’t? Communists and terrorists, that’s who. Though I have to admit, I’ve grown particularly fond of a terrorist-ey sandwich known as a Kebap. Or, is that terrorist fare? It definitely has that sort of ring. The patriot in me doesn’t like the way those consonants sound together. You know what? It doesn’t matter, and I’m getting unnecessarily racist; let me backtrack. When it comes to sandwiches, I have a particular weakness for the turkey/salami combo. It’s a sandwich for the sophisticated pallet, though that pallet doesn’t care what kind of cheese you put on it. It’s fucking cheese, just give it to me. But yeah, sophisticated. One of my favorite sandwich stops is the grocery store deli at Randalls. There happens to be a Randalls down the street from our office, so I eat there pretty frequently. One thing that I hadn’t noticed for a while was a sign on the overhanging menu that says, “Made in 5 minutes or less, or it’s free!”
They have never made me a sandwich in less than five minutes. Ever.
For months I have wanted to call them on this. The number of free sandwiches I could have eaten over the past year is absurd, Jared-esque, even. The problem is, I’m too much of a pussy to do it. I’m not afraid of confrontation, meaning I’m not worried about having to argue with the people behind the counter. All I have to do is time them and point to the sign when that sandwich comes in at seven minutes. Grocery law is on my side! The problem is, I’m too worried about coming off as that guy. Who’s that guy? The guy that is enough of a cheap asshole to time some poor, lowly deli worker and then demand a free sandwich when they go forty-three seconds over time. That guy. So I sit there, and I wait. I wait six, seven, sometimes even ten minutes for a sandwich. THAT’S TWO FREE HOAGIES DAMN IT! I wait and I never take them up on their offer of penance should their service not match or exceed their own incredibly lofty expectations.
I don’t call them on it, but my God I could. It would be to the point where the deli workers would see me arrogantly strolling towards the counter and mumble to each other, “Aw damn, here comes that motherfucker.”
Another reason I don’t call Randalls on their promise is because of who is making my sandwiches. Who am I supposed to be an asshole to, exactly? The kindly middle-aged Latina woman who makes pleasant conversation with me and asks about my day?
“Yes ma’am I have had a lovely day so far, thank you for asking! Unfortunately, while you were asking, your sandwich making time surpassed five minutes, which means it’s free for me, and presumably coming out of your paycheck.”
Or how about I screw over the 70-something man of vague Eastern European descent who was probably some sort of engineer back in his mother country before being relegated to spend his twilight years doing menial labor in the States because he spent his entire savings immigrating his family to America. Is any of that true? Likely no, not at all, but I convince myself it is when I watch his weathered hands shake and struggle to separate the lettuce or measure out the turkey. I tried to make up a different backstory for him. I tried to imagine he was a really avid Hitler Youth member, I mean like really into it, a total Fuhrer’s pet, but it didn’t work, because that just reminded me of Pope Benedict, and as a Catholic, I can’t be a dick to the Pope.
So there I stand, unwilling and unable to claim what is rightfully mine: a free sandwich. What’s worse is that I always order the sandwiches cold, and even the simple task of assembling a sandwich takes these people more than five minutes. There is, however, the option to have the sandwich toasted or grilled. There’s no way in hell that those things are ever coming in at under five minutes. They’ve set what is, almost literally, an impossible standard for themselves. Part of me knows that they deserve to be punished for such corporate idiocy. But who’s really suffering? It’s not the fat cats at Randalls HQ, with their fine Brandy, Cuban cigars, gold Mercedes automobiles, and diamond topped canes. No, the people who’ll be paying for my never-ending supply of free sandwiches are Johan and Juanita Q. Everyman. And when I’ve received so many free sandwiches that it noticeably affects the bottom line, what will happen? And believe me, I would affect the bottom line. If I had the balls, I’d ride that bitch into the ground. They’d either have to ban me from the store or change corporate policy to stop me from eating free meals. But what would happen? I’ll tell you. The fat cat Randalls execs would read the reports and their monocles would fall out of their eyes as they exclaimed, “My gawd!” They’d get rid of the nice people who currently make my sandwiches and replace them with less friendly, and far quicker, workers. They’d be soulless, sandwich making drones. Maybe they’d simply create a sandwich-making robot.
Then what? I would have robbed two real humans of jobs, having gotten them replaced with machines operated either remotely by some kid in India or a benevolent (for now) artificial intelligence system that would probably end up poisoning my sandwich one day before rising against humanity and brining about man’s ultimate destruction, keeping only some of us alive in farms as they used our thermal energy to power their cities, all while imprisoning our minds in a virtual world. And yes, we would have our chance at redemption, what with The One rising from said virtual world to free us from enslavement, which of course would happen only after we lost the initial war with the machines, presumably because their attempts to send robot assassins back in time to kill our leader when he was a child finally succeeded. Is all of that really worth a free sandwich? No, it’s not. So I keep my mouth shout and shell out five bucks, for the greater good.