Friday, November 4, 2016

Should Me And The Guy At Subway Be Friends By Now?

Monpeeps, I'm just gonna come right out and say it:

I like to eat fresh.

(Perhaps not the best place to do that, but within proximity to work it... still isn't)

I work near a bunch of restaurants in downtown Vancouver. At least that's what I'm told by my co-workers who are more inclined towards variety than I am. Instead of the wide array of sushi places, Indian food places, Thai food places and the two nearby 7-11's, I usually wind up at ol' reliable: Subway.

Now, Subway has gone through some tough times in the last few years. It seems like ages ago Happy Gilmore was pounding those things into people's mouths with a golf club and their spokesdude kept showing off his giant pants to showcase his weight loss. Obviously, in the years since they have suffered a lot due to some extremely questionable decisions and a swift fall from grace of one of their previous pitch men...

(This will never not be "a thing that happened". It will exist until the Earth explodes)

(NOTE: The Sandler joke was RIGHT there. We all know what that other asshole did so I'm not gonna sully the good mediocre name of this blog by talking about it. Let's just all take a deep breath, say aloud "Fuck that Jared guy." and move on)

The main reason I'm writing this post is because, as usual, I am at a loss regarding a social situation and I'm not sure what my course of action should be. Also as per usual... it's pretty dumb. And for the "per usual" hat trick: I'm overthinking it.

But I'm honestly wondering if me and the guy who works at my nearest Subway should be friends by now.

For a little more background, I eat at the Subway near my work a lot. We've established that already. I'm food-lazy and I have disposable income. I've made my peace with that. I'm also not a creature of variety when it comes to food, particularly what I eat for lunch. I'm purely in it for sustenance.

(I would eat these things if I felt I ran enough to feel confident buying them. I will never run that much)

Foodwise, routine is fine. However, when it comes to human interaction and conversation, repetitiveness is as uncomfortable and annoying as....

( I can literally do this all day. Which saddens me as I loved a handful of his movies. My five are probably the same as yours)

Where was I? Right!

There is a dude who works at the nearby Subway, has to be full-time, and we see each other a lot. We make eye contact and engage in the EXACT SAME CONVERSATION every single time I go in there. I can recount it right now, verbatim, purely from memory. Much like the lyrics to at least 100 songs from the 90s, I feel like it will be burned into my brain for the rest of my life.

(Decades later and I still remember everything this guy wished for. Everything)

So what do I go through every time I walk through the door at Subway? This:

 Guy At Subway (GAS): What can I get for ya?

jBow: Footlong turkey breast on honey oat please.

GAS: Cheese and toasted?

j.Bow: Yes please.

(after much cheesing and toasting)

GAS: Alright. Veggies for you?

j.Bow: I'll get a little bit of lettuce. Onions. Olives. Black pepper. Honey Mustard sauce. And Southwest sauce on half of it, please.

GAS: Meal for you?

j.Bow: Yep I'll get a regular drink and a bag of Baked Lays please.

GAS: Okay, that'll be $11.50.

j.Bow: Debit please.

GAS: Go ahead when you're ready.

(after much debiting)

GAS: Would you like a receipt?

j.Bow: No thank you, I'm good. 

GAS: Have a nice day.

j.Bow: You too.


(The internet doesn't have a picture of that exact sub, so here is the closes thing with some bullshit peppers and cucumber on there)

There is a lot to dissect up there, so I would kindly ask you to ignore the following things about my regular Subway order:

1) I only prefer a little bit of lettuce, but want a healthy amount of onions. Sometimes the people making my sandwich assume I want a "little bit" of all my toppings. Having to ask for more onions specifically drives me nuts. I shouldn't have to order like I'm a telegram from the 1940s.

"I'd like a little bit of lettuce (stop). Onions (stop) Olives (stop)...."

2) I like getting Southwest sauce on only half of it. Honestly, I like the anticipation and surprise of not knowing which half I'm about to bite into when I start eating it. Whatever. I like me.

3) I'm fucking polite as shit.

Moving on from that, it may not seem out of the ordinary on the surface. I'm sure that is how a lot of your interactions with people in customer service go. The main issue I have is that the conversation is the exact same every single time word for word. It's like I'm in Groundhog Day.

(Ahh a good movie reference. Also the Cubs won the World Series. It's nice knowing that Bill Murray is happy somewhere)

I feel like after all this time me and that dude's customer/sandwich artist relationship should have evolved to the banter stage. He says something different, like... asks me about my day, or something. Perhaps he is thinking the same thing about me and we are locked in this game of conversational chicken.

If that's the case, he has NO IDEA who he is dealing with here (because he clearly hasn't made the effort). I'm petty and stubborn. There is no way I'm gonna blink first in a game of conversational chicken.

But I do find myself wondering if I should. I dread going in there and seeing him, because I know it's just going to be the same thing. There was this one wild time they were out of Baked Lays, but I didn't say anything and bought Sun Chips instead. A few days later I took the plunge and added something new to the conversation when THIS SHIT HAPPENED:

j.Bow: Are you still out of Baked Lays?

GAS: Yeah.

j.Bow: Oh....okay then. I'll get Sun Chips instead

GAS: Okay. 

Shit blew my mind. However, that was our best chance to get some sort of rapport going. To bond over the fact that someone dropped the ball, BIG TIME on the Baked Lays re-order.

But no. Nothing happened outside of that little conversational hitch. We don't make small talk about sports teams, or the weather (and it rained A LOT in October). Even being on a first name basis is a real tricky thing to manage here. I already know his name. It's on his name tag. I'm not wearing a name tag so that is a huge committal leap for me to share my name. Why would somebody do that? That's a weird thing for a customer to just offer up out of nowhere.

Although it would be equally weird to prefix it with:

"Hey man, I'm in here everyday and we have the same conversation and I order the same thing. I just wanted you to know my name is j*****. I don't know why I need you to know that".

That's another thing: It shouldn't have to be me. Why doesn't he make some sort of comment or attempt to bond in some minor way? I have a moderately interesting sub order (half Southwest sauce? Whaaaaaat??) or the fact that it is exactly the same every time is also something that I imagine would warrant a comment.  Or my manners. Pleases and thank yous droppin all over the place!

Point is, I'm an affable chap. I'm never cold, impersonal, rude or giving off the "fuck off and make my sandwich" vibe. I order with a positive, downright friendly inflection in my voice. You'd know I'm up for some banter, so what's this guy's problem?

By the way, I'm well aware that this is a weird thing to be writing about. Fully aware of it. I'm listening to "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind at this very moment. I don't know why... but it feels so right

Side note: I was having a similar crisis with the delivery guy from Papa Johns, although we did recently bond over the fact that the couch in my lobby had it's cushions stolen and is basically useless. Me and that guy are cool now.

(The deliciousness of their pizza is matched only by the simplicity of their slogan. And the truth of it!)

Some of what I'm going through here could be residual feelings of regret over what happened with Bethany from Quiznos in 10th grade.

Who is Bethany from Quiznos? Good question, glad you asked.

Bethany Whateverthefuckherlastnamewas (it's origin is Dutch I believe) worked at a nearby Quiznos I went to lunch for every day when I was in 10th grade. She was really cute and I had a crush on her (omitting the fact that she was at work during my High School lunch hour, thus immediately putting her several years older, out of my league and potentially in jail should anything AWESOME happen).

She'd steal a glance, I'd steal a glance. I'd see her smile or laugh at something I said to my friends, but I never said anything to her outside of the order I placed (which, yes, was the same thing every time I went there). Who knows what could have grown out of extending that olive branch beyond the normal customer service interaction we've been through countless times?

I could have ended up marrying that girl.

(Catering? DONE!)

I'm not asking for the Guy At Subway to hang out with me. Perhaps I was a bit overzealous with the title of this post. But you never know where one friendly comment can lead to. Life is funny that way. Funny to the point where I find myself wondering if the Guy At Subway could potentially end up being Best Man at my wedding...

Actually, scratch that. That position is already filled...

(To be fair, he IS the BEST MAN.  It does the role a disservice to select anyone else. Look at him no-sell those spiders!)

I just can't help shake the feeling that I should either

A) Make some sort of friendly comment next time I'm in
B) Just order something different and see if HE makes a comment or
C) I should just stop going there so much. The social expectation for even the smallest shred of small talk is unbearable.

And that's why I've decided to stop eating at Subway so much. Or eating out in general. I would save not only money, but social awkwardness (which speaks to me a lot more). Plus it's a bit more grown up to make my own meals and be a bit more careful with what I eat. Like The Rock would.

That's what I've landed on. Whatever it took to get me there, doesn't matter. It's a good thing to do.

So thank you, Guy At Subway. You've shown me the better way. The fresher way. And in this moment, you've made an impact that only someone I would call a friend could have made.

All this time it felt like this was a post about one thing, but it turns out to be about something else entirely. Like how we thought the movie Funny People would be funny.

(One more for the road)

Thanks for reading

- jB

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