Transterrestrial Musings

Defend Free Speech!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type 4.0
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« Fay Hasn't Budged | Main | "...Only Enemies Or Vassals" »

Sandwich Artists

Lileks explains why I rarely go to Subway.

I'd won a free 6" sub. This was timely, since I was planning to buy one for my wife. We finished our meal; I went back to the place where the Sandwich Artists labor in various degrees of surly disinterest, and presented the coupon. The Artist began to craft the meal out the chopped and processed carbclay arrayed before him - and that's when the manager walked over.

"For future reference," she said, "those are for the next visit."

I pointed to the small print on the back of the ticket. "Actually, it says for your next order."

"Well, it means visit. It's how we keep track of them in the back." She jerked a thumb towards the back of the store, where the Something wet and spiny sat in a crate, swallowing souls and dreams and crapping out rules and procedure.

If there are two things I don't like, it's someone who tells me that fine print doesn't mean what it says, and alludes to some company process that makes things simpler not for me, or for the employees, but some theoretical person on whose behalf the system was set in place years ago by a team of consultants who have already moved on to rejiggering something else that worked perfectly fine. On the other hand, after years of dealing with restaurant employees who couldn't give a fig about the job, it's difficult to carp when you find someone who does - unless, of course, that person has decided to make a point about a free sandwich for future reference.

Also, a trip to the museum.



Rick C wrote:

My biggest problem with Subway--and I freely admit it's Lileks-level nitpickery--is the fact that they usually ask me whether or not I'd like my Subway Melt toasted. I guess the word "Melt" is just a word, and not necessarily descriptive or anything.

Josh Reiter wrote:

The Subways around my work place are generally staffed by sandwich artists who are well chiseled by the busy lunch crowds. They know how to efficiently move things along the sandwich construction process and proper portioning of ingredients. The Subway that is next to my suburban house ,out in the sticks, is staffed by toothless high school ingrates who have no inkling or interest in proper sandwich preparation.

One time the sandwich artist pulled a piece of bread out that looked like flat bread. I asked for another loaf and he said, "They all look like that, they told me to make the bread but I said, 'I don't know nuttin' about makin' no bread' and by golly I was right -- cause look...." and he showed me cooking sheet after sheet of flat lifeless loaves of bread. I mean, how hard is it to screw up a loaf of bread dough that is pre-mixed at a commissary. It is a mindless process:

1. Arrange the bread dough on a cooking sheet
2. Throw it in the proofer
2. Set the timer to a highlighted notch
3. When the buzzer sounds move it to the oven.
4. Set the timer to the highlighted notch.
5. When the buzzer sounds move it into the storage cabinet.

I've never worked a day in my life at Subway and gleaned more insight just from observation then "Mr. No-nuttin'".

Then, just the other day I got in line behind a lady who ordered 4 pizzas -- FOUR! If you want pizza buffet order up some Hut or go to Cici's -- jeez! Then, to make issues worse, the kid behind the counter left all the pizzas on the main prep counter. He put one of the pizzas in the oven and then proceeded to put the cardboard boxes together. Mind you, the first pizza took all of 2 minutes to cook but he sat there for 10 minutes biting on his tongue trying to fit tab A into slot B. The whole while leaving 3 other uncooked pizzas on the counter. So, his little co-worker comes out to "help". She takes the next persons order and he of course needs 3 sandwiches and a sandwich jam behind the pizzas begins to form. Instead of turning and moving the pizzas out of the way to make room. She turns to me and asks, "what would like today sir?" I look and see she has absolutely no room left. I'd had enough and chastised, "Why don't you just keep moving on down the line there and get things going that way." Everyone became silent and uncomfortably shifted their weight back and forth to accommodate the burden of reason and logic. She sort of glanced around nervously and gingerly went over and moved the pizzas to the back counter. I wanted to scream, "Yay! We have a winner!"

Alan K. Henderson wrote:

Schlotzsky's makes the best tasting sandwiches EVER.

The one drawback is that its idea of a side dish is a bag of potato chips. That's not a side dish, or even a snack. It's a snacklet. If Schlotzsky's offered real side dishes like soups or potato salad or anything else that weighs a lot more than 1 1/4 ounces, it would be on the road to greatness.

Carl Pham wrote:

Aw, I think that's not nice. He's descending to Keillor-like irascibility and lack of empathy here.

In the first place, it's a gift, not an entitlement. If he wants a sandwich made to his order, exactly when he wants it, then fork over the $5. If Subway suits want to give away a sandwich, it's up to them to define the terms of the gift. If his missus says she'll treat him to the 7 PM showing of Batman Broods Some More About Life, and later says oops it was 7 PM next Wednesday, not 7 PM on any day you care to choose, does he whip out his pocket recorder and confront the wretched woman with her exact recorded words?

In the second place, nitpicking over the exact wording of the deal is a little princessy. Unless you're a God-damned lawyer, I think what Subway meant should control, not what precisely they said. Wanting the fine print to dominate the intentions of the author is not an especially respectable ethical point of view, IMHO.

In the third place, the company gave a low-level manager authority to overrule company policy for the purpose of better customer relations, and she did so in this case. Her options were: (1) refuse to honor the coupon at all, (2) honor it and say nothing, thus passing the buck to the next manager to whom Lileks offers a coupon, or (3) honor it on a one-time basis, but let him know what the company policy is for next time. Seems to me she made the right and thoughtful choice -- so why mock her in print? Why not honor her (and even the company) for being flexible in how they respond to their customers?

In the last place, it should be noted that providing sandwiches made of modestly fresh ingredients, on a moment's notice, at prices barely above what you'd pay if you did it at home and supplied your own loving labor for free, using largely unskilled labor, and returning a steady profit to investors, is a pretty significant accomplishment. Beats the heck out of writing witty prose, anyway. So a smidge more humility about the occasional goof-up would not come amiss.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Why not honor her (and even the company) for being flexible in how they respond to their customers?

Actually, despite using the incident for blog fodder, in the end, that's what he did. Of course, whatever he did is more forgivable, given the writing quality with which he did it, which is what Lileks is all about.

Paul Milenkovic wrote:

I don't know. On one hand, perhaps the purpose of the free sandwich is to get you to return to Subway. On the other hand if Lilek's family is hungry enough to want to redeem that free sandwich right away, maybe Subway should encourage this level of sandwich consumption to in the long run sell more sandwiches.

Another question -- according the the TV ad campaign, customers leave the Subway with wet hair because there are so many winning tickets and people celebrate their Instant Winning by tossing the contents of a large soda up in the air. So, like, did Lileks celebrate by tossing the contents of his soda in the air?

Hangtown Bob wrote:

Well, if it had been me, I would have responded that the manaager had just succeeded in buying the sandwich that I had just ordered (and which the sandwich maker had already started)and I would have walked out. Then, after an appropriate time interval (an hour?), I would would have returned for my "next visit" and ordered a sandwich making certain that it was different from the first that I had ordered. But then, I am probably more of an a@#-hole than Lileks.

nlhgmi tyqgom wrote:

ltqjhx pjshnr grnj wctihzn ujmsph cflev aorlhne

nlhgmi tyqgom wrote:

ltqjhx pjshnr grnj wctihzn ujmsph cflev aorlhne

nlhgmi tyqgom wrote:

ltqjhx pjshnr grnj wctihzn ujmsph cflev aorlhne

nlhgmi tyqgom wrote:

ltqjhx pjshnr grnj wctihzn ujmsph cflev aorlhne

Leave a comment

Note: The comment system is functional, but timing out when returning a response page. If you have submitted a comment, DON'T RESUBMIT IT IF/WHEN IT HANGS UP AND GIVES YOU A "500" PAGE. Simply click your browser "Back" button to the post page, and then refresh to see your comment.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 21, 2008 6:29 AM.

Fay Hasn't Budged was the previous entry in this blog.

"...Only Enemies Or Vassals" is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.1