March 01, 2007

Just make the sandwich already

I'm sure I'm in a severely limited minority when it comes to choices. I really don't want that many choices. I know we talk about "freedom of choice", and "choosing our own destinies" and such, and that's all fine and well. But every day I have to decide, "Debit or Credit?", "Paper or Plastic", "Do you want room for cream?" (I always specify that I want my coffee black, but I suppose some baristas have an uncanny ability to pour coffee that stays black even after the addition of cream.)
A plethora of choice is just as bad as a dearth of choice. Which brings me to today's rant. Sometimes, I just want to grab a sandwich and get back to my desk.I have too many decisions to make as it is, so when I grab lunch, I want to decide on a sandwich, pay for it, and go back to work. What could be simpler?
Well, at either Subway, or Submarina (the west-coast version of subway) the answer is almost anything. Seriously, at either of these sub-chains ordering a sandwich makes cold-fusion look simple.
You have to specify each and every element and ingredient that goes into your sandwich. By the time I get to the register, I could have made the sandwich myself, and been back to the office. I tried to circumvent their procedure droids once, and it was not pretty. They had a new sandwich, something like a teriyaki chicken sub. I said "I'd like a teriyaki chicken sub, and I want you to make it exactly like it is in the picture." (thinking I'd cleverly found a way around the endless questions.) The clerk said "What kind of bread?", I said "Whatever that bread in the picture is". Then he started studying the picture, until, exasperated, I said "white -- just use white". Then he said, "what kind of cheese?"I responded, "whatever that cheese in the picture is". So he determined it was provolone (round and white). Then -- "You want Olives?" I said "Are there olives in the picture?", he looks at the picture, then at me, then says "uh,... yeah".
I understand that a LOT of people like to customize their sandwiches, I do too. At home. But when I go to a sandwich shop, I expect the folks they hire will know the basics of putting the sandwiches together. For example, I shouldn't have to choose a type of cheese to go on a meatball sub.
I remember as a kid, there were delis around here that would simply tell you "no" if you ordered something wrong. "No, the pastrami comes with mustard, not mayo". (as it should) If one establishment made a killer chili dog, you'd go there for chili dogs, because they made the best. They probably wouldn't make the best if they let the customer specify each and every step in the dog's construction. That's why they're the "chili dog man". They've perfected the process. I'd go to one shop for a cold cut sub, and another for chili dogs, based on their respective strengths.
Not nowadays. Choice is king, even when the person making the choice doesn't know their subject.
When I go into an eating establishment, sometimes I don't even know what I want, but if I can ask the clerk, "what would you have?" and they come back with the specialty of the establishment, I'm grateful. And I'll order that most of the time.
But when I go into an establishment and I have to tell them each and every step, ingredient, etc... what am I paying for? Makes me think I should open my own sandwich shop and call it "Make your own dang sandwich".

Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to get that off my chest. I've actually had some fairly successful experiments this week, and I hope to get some of them posted over the weekend.


Mensch71 said...

Well said! I blame Burger King for this whole "fast food = option buffet". Remember that "have it your way?" ad campaign?

I think you should skip your local Subway/whatever chain and find a local deli. If we stop patronizing the crap food emporiums, maybe they'll stop annoying us.

Mimi said...

I liked the rant. Some times I prefer not to have too many choices. It comforts me.

Mimi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charles said...

mensch71 - I recall that Burger King campaign. My dad had a similar "have it your way" philosophy. If he bought me a hamburger, and I said "I don't like pickles" he'd say "Scrape 'em off".

mimi - I know what you mean.

Baltimore Snacker said...

I haven't been to Subway lately. Honestly have never heard of Submarina, so I'll have to look for it next time I visit. I don't necessarily mind the plethora of options at Subway, but I usually order a set of ingredients that I like. Usually, olives, peppers, hots, onions, olive oil, er, pickles, um...hold on a minute lemme think, no mayo... Aw I forget.

Charles said...

Hey Snacker, Thanks for dropping in. I got to thinking about this some more after I posted it, and I think it's not the options that bother me as much as it's just plain inconvenient that I have to tell someone each and every step of the way how to put together even the basics for a sandwich.