Thursday, June 30, 2005


Yesterday I made the mistake of stepping out of the office, at the wrong moment, to go get something to eat. Geeze, most days of the week I eat once a day but on this occasion I wanted some lunch. How galling then to pick the wrong moment.

It was the wrong moment because someone who seems to imagine that their job is so important that they can't take a lunch break realised I was on my way out and hit me up to get their lunch. I didn't want to do it but what can you do? Refuse point blank? I should have. I knew it was going to turn into a disaster.

This is possibly a cultural thing. In Australia if someone asks me to get them a ham sandwich that's what I'll get them. A sandwich containing ham. That's the way we do sandwiches. If you want yak cheese churned by a 15 year old virgin who's only ever eaten Baloney Sandwiches made of Wonder Bread then I'm sorry but you are so far out of the cricket ground that you're going to have to go and buy your own sanga. But I've lived here in the US for more than 2 and a half years so I already knew the hell I was subscribing to.

I swear it would have taken the supplicant less time to walk to Subway and get her own sandwich than it took for her to write the description. Italian BMT on Asiago bread with everything except olives, jalapenos and whatever the third don't want was. I don't remember the third exception.

So up I front. They have no idea what Asiago bread is. Nor do I. Nor, it turns out, does she. It seems she heard the word somewhere and it sounded right...

Ok, so I plump for Italian bread. I have requests for everything except olives,jalapenos and the mystery third ingredient that I can't remember.

So the bread is chosen and the BMTness cast in concrete. Now for the extras. I have the list of undesired extras. If it's not on the list we want it (I'm not eating this example). So I rattled off the list. Mistake! I don't blame the sub makers for this; it's got to be a lot easier and less error prone for them to expect you to list what you DO want rather than what you don't. So I went through the list myself, crossing off the unwanted and calling out what was. Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Lettuce and a whole panoply of other vegetables. Then I said (rendered phonetically) 'oh and some tomartoes'.

The server coped well until that moment. I've long since learned to say Bell Peppers, not Capsicum but I can't bring myself to say tomatoes the way Americans say it. I'm a stubborn old bastard! It was as if I'd said nothing at all. The tomatoes were passed over and the sub was ready to wrap. 'Nope, some tomartoes'. Nothing. So, pride swallowed, I said, 'oh, and some tomaytoes'. Instant comprehension!

All of which is proof, so far as I'm concerned, that if you're a sub maker at Subway you're not really listening to a word the customer says. If the words don't exactly coincide with what you're programmed to respond to they go to the error bucket and are ignored. I can't think of any other vegetable in the english language that sounds even vaguely like the word I pronounced for tomato.

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