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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Jeez, Nobody Told Me I’d Have to Make Decisions!

I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt; I really would.

But the doubt is growing. The evidence is quickly mounting that your average person is either not very bright, or not very considerate, or both. People seem to be caught unaware and unprepared for events that ought to be pretty damned easy to predict, as far as I can tell.

I’m not talking about the big, not-completely-inevitable things, either. I can give a little leeway on those — sure, if you live in California, you should probably expect to have the occasional earthquake — but if the big one hits, and you’re caught sleeping, or showering, or picking your nose (which I imagine could lead to some very painful, and hard-to-explain, injuries during a tremor), I can understand that. You simply can’t keep your guard up all the time.

(Though you can reduce your risk by keeping your damned fingers out of your nose; that’s nasty, dude.)

Similarly, I wouldn’t say ‘well, duh!‘ to someone from the Carolina coastline who’s just had a hurricane pick up their house and smoosh it into a sand dune. Sure, it’s eventually gonna happen, and you should probably see that coming, but should that really stop people from hitting the beach and working on their tan? These things are so unpredictable.

(I have to say, though, that I draw the line with these dimbulbs who set up shop in trailer parks in the midwest. Those hellholes aren’t called ‘disaster magnets’ for nothing. It’s not that any one thing in particular should drive them off — the chances of each are still relatively slim — but when you put together all the catastrophes that are likely to happen in a trailer park, from flooding to twisters to appearances on Jerry Springer, I think you’ve got to connect the dots and get the hell out. But that’s just me.)

Anyway, those sorts of things aren’t really what I’m talking about. Rather, it’s the little things in life that bewilder and befuddle people which really baste my Christmas hams.

(Um… that’s a bad thing, by the way. At least, it’s supposed to be. Now, I’m just hungry. And strangely excited, thinking about ‘hams’ being ‘basted’. Damn. I’ve gone and made myself uncomfortable again. Creepy.)

I’ll give you an example of people getting on my nerves, when no such annoyance is necessary. I work in a hospital a couple of days a week, and I ususally eat lunch in an adjacent food court. Specifically, I end up at Subway more often than not. It’s a way I can eat fast food while still pretending that I’m being moderately healthy.

(Behold the power of my self-delusional fantasies.

And you just know they liposuctioned the shit out of that Jared freak… nobody gets thin eating those sandwiches every day, unless they’re hurling them up in the bathroom ten minutes later. It’s all a scam.

I’m still convinced that we’ll see an expose of the whole thing on Dateline or 60 Minutes some night — they’ll find out that ‘Jared’ is really ‘Bob’ or ‘Joe’, and that the real Jared is bigger than ever, living in Texas somewhere, and spending all the ‘hush money’ he’s getting from Subway on Popeye chicken and tubs of Ben & Jerry’s. I’m serious. Just you watch.)

But my real problem is that it’s not ‘fast’ food at this place. It’s excruciatingly slow food — unless I have lunch at ten in the morning or three in the afternoon, it takes a frigging half an hour to get a damned sandwich out of those people. Christ, I could kill the chicken, bake the bread, and slice the damned veggies myself in the time it takes to get through the line and out the other end with my food. You’d think someone was birthing the damned things in the back somewhere, it takes so fricking long. I’m all about eating ‘fresh’, but if the thing comes with a side of placenta, I think I’ll hit the Au Bon Pain instead, thanks so much.

(Um… okay, I may have gone too far there. Sorry. I know when I feel myself typing ‘placenta’ in a post that I’m dangerously close to the line. ‘Assmonger’, fine. ‘Fuckmuffin’, sure. But ‘placenta’ — well, I’ll try to scale back a bit for the rest of this entry. So sorry.)

Anyway, some of the wait is the fault of the folks behind the counter, of course. These aren’t rocket scientists, to be certain, and you’ll see the occasional error that gums up the works for a while. They’ll mishear ‘tomato’ as ‘mayo’ and have to start a sandwich over from scratch, maybe. Or they’ll decide that ‘everything but onions’ really means ‘oh, just everything’, and they’ll have to pick the offending veggies off the order. But generally, the employees are not the root of the problem; they do their jobs, as best they’re able, and keep the line moving in the right direction most of the time.

The real hangups come from the damned customers. And before I get my little tirade started in earnest, let me assure you that these are not patients, or even family members, in these lines.

(Unfortunately for them, most of the hospital visitors don’t even know about the food court. They end end up shackled in the cafeteria, down in the bowels of the hospital building, chewing their rubbery salads and chipping their teeth on the day-old muffins. If they weren’t sick when they walked in the place, they will be soon.)

Rather, it’s the hospital employees who stand in the Subway line — doctors, and fellows, and clerical staff, and phlebotomists — chatting and clucking and gibbering amongst themselves. For twenty minutes or more, they’ll stand in line, talking about their weekend, and that hot new receptionist, and how they were finally able to get their insurance to pay to have that boil on their ass removed. Basically, flapping their lips and their brains over anything they can think of. Anything, that is, except what kind of goddamned sandwich they want to eat.

So, when they finally get to the counter… they’ve got nothing. ‘What,’ you can almost hear them ask. ‘Sandwich? Oh, it’s time to order a sandwich. Well, lookee there, Maude, what do you know?‘ So now they’re taking three more minutes of my precious, fleeting lifetime asking ‘What’s on the BMT?‘, or ‘Do you have wheat bread?

Do they have wheat bread? Do they fricking have fricking wheat bread? No. Of course they don’t. It’s only a sandwich shop, and wheat bread is only the most popular kind of bread on the damned planet, and you’ve been staring at the sign that says they have wheat bread for the last half a freaking hour, and — ORDER YOUR FUCKING SANDWICH BEFORE I SHOVE AN ONION UP YOUR ASS, YOU CLUELESS YAMMERING SHITBAG!

(I don’t know; is that a bit brusque of me? And no, I don’t work in the customer service industry. Whyever would you ask?)

But the nightmare doesn’t end there. Oh, no. Not at Subway. Because at Subway, you not only have to order your sandwich from one person, you then have to tell a second person what you’d like on your sandwich. And this is when these assmaggots really get to shine. So many choices, so many variables! It’s a veritable playground for the annoy-the-piss-out-of-others set, and they take full advantage. I’m regularly subjected to sphincter-constricting nonsense like this:

Subway Dude: What would you like on your sandwich, sir?

Cluetard Customer: My what?

Subway Dude: Um, your sandwich?

Cluetard Customer: Sand-wich. Oh! Right! My sandwich! Well, um… what do you have?

Subway Dude: All of our ingredients are here on the counter, sir.

Cluetard Customer: Where?

Subway Dude: On the counter… in front of you… lower… lower… little to the left…

Cluetard Customer: Oooh! Look at ’em all! Far out.

Subway Dude: Er, yes sir. ‘Far out’. So, what would you like?

Cluetard Customer: Well, lessee… what’s that green, shreddy-looking stuff?

Subway Dude: That’s lettuce, sir.

Cluetard Customer: Lettuce? I see… And the round, reddish things there, with the seeds?

Subway Dude: Tomatoes, sir. Those are tomato slices.

Cluetard Customer: Fascinating! And the green, sort of peppery things?

Subway Dude: Do you mean the green peppers, sir?

Cluetard Customer: I might. You tell me.

Subway Dude: *sigh* Yes, sir. I think you do. Would you like green peppers, sir?

Cluetard Customer: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t had time to think about it yet. How about beets? Do you have beets?

Subway Dude: No, sir, we don’t carry beets. We do, however, close in three more hours. If you could speed it up, just a bit, sir.

Cluetard Customer: Okay, okay, don’t rush me, kid. How about bananas? I could go for a banana right now.

Subway Dude: Bananas, sir? On your sandwich?

Cluetard Customer: On my what?

Subway Dude: Your sandwich, sir — we were discussing what toppings you’d like on your sandwich?

Cluetard Customer: Sand-wich. Oh! Right! Okay, I’m with you.

Subway Dude: Great. So what can I —

Cluetard Customer: Oooh! Look at all those toppings! Hey, what’s that green, shreddy-looking stuff, anyway?

Subway Dude: *groan* Beets, sir. The green shredded stuff is beets.

Cluetard Customer: Ooh, boy! I’ll have some of that!

Subway Dude: Fine. How about these green, peppery bananas? Some of those, too?

Cluetard Customer: Oh, yeah! I love bananas! Give me double green-peppery bananas!

Subway Dude: Very good, sir. You’re all set. Please go bother the cashier now.

Cluetard Customer: Fantastic! Can I pay in pennies and Canadian quarters?

Subway Dude: Knock yourself out, sir. You’re her problem, now.

Cluetard Customer: Woo hoo!

So, anyway, I’m not sure why these things happen, just that they do. All the time, and seemingly always when I’m in a hurry. Maybe these people are just too self-absorbed to care about keeping things running smoothly, or maybe they’re too easily distracted by idle chit-chat and shiny jewelry they see on people passing by. Honestly, I have no idea.

All I know is that I can’t take it any more. I’m gonna start buying my sandwiches when I come to work in the morning, or maybe I’ll get the next day’s lunch when I leave at night. But even that’s not guaranteed to work. With my luck, I’ll get into a line with just one frigging guy, but he’ll be the one who wants to know whether the pickles were organically grown, or the olives are Grecian, or whether he can substitute extra turkey for a bag of chips in the meal deal. Bitch monkeys!

Shit. Maybe I’ll just start bringing my lunch every day. I’m no huge fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but anything has got to be better than this! Grrr.

Permalink  |  7 Comments

7 Responses to “Jeez, Nobody Told Me I’d Have to Make Decisions!”

  1. Lara says:

    All I can say is HOW ANNOYING!

  2. shortt says:

    :o) made me smile anyway, thanks for the good idiot story

  3. liz says:

    try breaking into the conversation early on with “so, what kind of sandwich are you ordering?” keep asking until they answer.

  4. zoot says:

    I had the same sort of experience at the grocery store today. I thought, I’ll run to the store quickly, pick up the few things I need, and all on my 30 minute lunch break, save some time, right? Pshh. I respect my elders, but man, it must have been Social Security Check Wednesday or something, because every grandma and grandpa in Brooklyn was in the store. All ever-so-slowly pushing around their empty carts, blocking all the aisle entrances, and paying for their items with pennies. Pennies which the cashier had to count out for them because their fingers aren’t quite as nimble as they used to be. Heaven help us all.

  5. chasmyn says:

    Um. Not to take away the fun or anything, but you could always call your order in in advance, and just go straight to the cashier when you get there. I’m just saying. (wink)

  6. Jon says:

    That had me laughing for awhile, and I mean, everyone’s had that experience, right when you want to get on with your life, you have to suffer through another minute of inane and clueless babbling, just so you can eat and get the hell out!

  7. Howie says:

    Hire the handicapped, I say!

    Here is my week of lunches:

    Monday: Pizza place

    Every high school kid on line each having been there every day since they started high school and each needs to here what kind of pizza is that and what kind of pizza is this and how much is this and that…..

    35 minutes to get one slice.

    Tuesday: Local deli

    Online in front of me…

    A few high school kid (the ones with more money that don’t go to the pizza place), an Irish couple in their 80’s (minimum), two construction workers (have not bathed since 1977). The high school kids seem to have their ducks in a row although the counter person seems to be on another planet. Within 15 minutes, their orders were wrong and they paid for them anyway cursing. The Irish couple, who had argued for 15 minutes over the various menu items and how each affects their liver functions, in great detail, along with the various colors of bowels movements caused by the different types of peppers offered, then began the bonus question round with the space cadet behind the counter. Many questions were repeated and each answer was different leading to more intelligent questions (sic) and less intelligent answers until the earth left its orbit and crashed into Jupiter.

    I managed a roast beef hero before my lunch hour was over. They put on ketchup instead of mustard, swiss, which I asked for but I think they had a sale on swiss since there was much more swiss than beef, and various other unidentified toppings which were ok at best.

    Wednesday: Fancy smancy restaurant with white table cloths, snotty waiters, over priced food and a good beer selection and since I wasn’t paying, I didn’t care.

    The list of specials was longer than the menu and if you asked questions about any of them, the description was basically what the name of the special was. Example: Can you tell me about the “Chicken Asparagus” special.

    Answer. Well it’s chicken cooked with asparagus. Ah, I see. How about the “Beef saute”, is that with vegetables? I would have to check. Would you LIKE me to check? No, that’s ok, I think I will just order from the menu. (P.S. This question and answer period was not me doing the Q&A, but my ‘host’ and since my ‘host’ was paying, I had to listen to this brain crushing conversation for 20 minutes.)

    The chicken and asparagus was awful, and at $18.95, I think is should have an act before I eat it!

    Thursday: Donut day

    Hit Dunkin Donuts and get a few dozen and some boxes of coffee. Not my idea but the department sponsors this event cause someone thought it would be cool. It’s not.

    There is nothing good to be said about that place or the service or especially the customers!!!

    Makes your situation almost bearable!

    Idea for DD… make one kind of donut each day and DO NOT GIVE PEOPLE CHOICES!

    Friday: I brown bagged it. Best lunch I had all day and I even had 30 minutes to take a walk after I ate.

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