(Not So) Superior at Subway

>> Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It’s pretty pathetic when my confidence comes from feeling superior to teenage girls.

I’m walking towards the line at Subway, thrilled that it’s so short, when a gaggle of teenage volleyball players gets in line ahead of me. That’s OK. The line’s still short, I tell myself.

But I quickly become impatient with their lack of focus and inability to make quick decisions. Instead of chatting and giving each other high-fives, shouldn’t they be selecting their bread choices? When the weary looking sandwich assembler asks them what kind of cheese they want, shouldn’t they shout “Provolone! American! Cheddar!” instead of saying the unthinkable, “Um... I don’t know, what do you have?” Didn’t they see the sign 12 inches in front of their cute little noses with labeled photographs of, you guessed it, cheese? Apparently not.

Next, two new girls walk over to the group.

“Hey guys! Why didn’t you wait for us?”

I knew what was coming -- they wanted to cut in line. But I looked right at them. They weren’t going to slip in front, unnoticed. They looked at each other for silent approval. One ducked under the rope to join her friends, but the other stayed behind. I half smiled and shook my head. I wanted to say:

The problem is not that I’m a bitch for giving you a hard time (and by hard time, I mean staring at them -- I didn’t actually say anything). The problem is that your friends didn’t wait for you. Direct any tantrums their way, my young friend.

But I didn’t.

The girl who didn’t cross over, either because of a higher moral standard or a healthy fear of my feeble authority, nods for her friend to join her at the end of the line. The line violator acquiesces and joins her friend, all the way back at the end of the line -- which consists of me and some Asian guy.

(Note to self: I clearly have “line issues”. Michael agrees.)

The line continues to stutter forward. A sandwich assembler tosses one of the girls’ sub into the microwave. The girl turns back to her friend, makes a frowny face (which is the only way to describe it), and bemoans that the assembler did not understand that she did not want her sandwich toasted. Of course, this is just one more opportunity for me to feel superior, as I am the Queen of Get-My-Sandwich-Right and would have no problem asking them to do it over.

But, then again, there would be very little misunderstanding between me and the assembler, anyway. It’s almost my turn in line and I’m practically chomping at the bit to demonstrate my sandwich-ordering prowess. The weary assembler looks at me. What’ll you have?

“Hi! I’ll have parmesan oregano bread, six inches.” I say this first because the bread is the foundation of the sandwich. I smile broadly at the assembler, letting him know that his assembling worries are over. He's not impressed.

Then, “I’ll have a BMT, toasted.” No misunderstandings, there.

Now it’s time for the toppings. This is the time for supreme focus, as things move quickly during this part of assembly. While watching very carefully, I take a deep breath and begin, “I’ll have lettuce, tomato, cucumber, black olives, onions... salt and pepper... oil and vinegar.” If they try to move ahead too fast and throw on some unwanted green peppers and pickles, I’m ready to intervene. "No -- just jalapenos and pepperocinis. Thanks."

And finally, to prove I’m Queen of Get-My-Sandwich-Right I say, “and I’d like four vinegar packets, to go.”

There. All done. I’m practically gloating with self-satisfaction. See how smoothly that went down, girls? That’s how a grown up orders a sub. There’s no room for chat in my world. No room for high-fives; just well-assembled sandwiches.

Of course, it occurs to me as I walk alone to my office that while I may have the perfect sandwich, the girls are back there laughing it up, surrounded by their friends. All I have is some illusion of camaraderie with a sandwich assembler who probably remembers me as “the pain in the ass who wanted too much vinegar.” Meanwhile, the girls are probably giggling and tossing pickles at each other while I eat my sub in front of a computer monitor.

Hell, they probably don’t even realize that their sandwiches have too much mustard.

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