Sandwich-making is an art. Literally.

I cannot cook. Honestly, I can’t. The minute I enter the kitchen everything spontaneously bursts into flames. The vegetables wilt and the slices of bread start falling, butter side down. I walk through a kitchen and leave behind a scene of devastation. Everything edible simply transforms into something completely uneatable the moment I touch it.

In the kitchen, I’m a bit like the Incredible Hulk, plus King Midas (except everything I touch turns to rot). 

But what I can do is make a sandwich. I’m sufficiently skilled in picking up two slices of bread and stuffing something in between. And I don’t even accidentally cut myself with the knife when slicing the bread. Most of the time.

But who can’t make a sandwich? You might ask. Who could be so dim-witted as to be unable to stack three simple layers on top of one another?

I’ll tell you who: the employees at my favourite [bazinga implied] sandwich shop.

I’m a regular customer at a very popular sandwich shop franchise outlet just a few minutes from where I live, and I have never, ever been served a sandwich that I’ve been satisfied with. And note that my expectations of fast food restaurants aren’t high, especially if the fast food restaurant calls its employees ‘sandwich artists’. I’m not even joking.

It isn’t that my order is very complicated.  I don’t ask them for things like, ‘ciabatta bread with arugula, prosciutto and brie, garnished with a hint of basil and cat fur’. My order is pretty straightforward: Usually a Veggie Patty on oregano bread, without any jalapeno and mustard. Just four things to remember. But, for the goldfish-like memory of our ‘sandwich artists’ it’s four too many.

They place the frozen veggie patty in microwave to defrost. And by the time they’ve walked over to the oven to pick up the oregano bread, they’ve forgotten what type of bread I’ve asked for. They look towards me helplessly, and I know why. “Oregano!” I have to yell over the din made by other customers, also reminding their respective ‘sandwich artists’ of their order.

Once they return to the counter, they stare at the trays of vegetables for a few moments, and you can just see in their faces that they’re trying to work out which vegetable you had asked that they not include your sandwich. I watch them for a while, trying to see if this rigorous and visible mental labour will help them remember. Just for the record, it doesn’t. Finally they start constructing the sandwich. With the speed and care of a child pulling out a particularly precariously positioned Jenga block, they layer onions on tomatoes, tomatoes on cucumbers, cucumbers on lettuce. Exactly four of each. Then they reach the jalapenos. Their hands hover over the tray. They remember that the customer has asked for something to do with jalapenos, but what? Is it extra jalapenos? No jalapenos? Jalapeno sauce? Finally I say, decisively, “No. No jalapenos,” in a tone of voice that somehow makes one feel that this command should be followed by ‘bad doggie’. The artist nods like he knew your order very well indeed, and was, in fact, testing your memory.

Next he proceeds on to the sauces. By now I’ve become smarter and I say, “No mustard,” before he applies, or at least tries to apply, his mind again. He pours on the sauces carefully, places the patty on top and reaches the final (and the most challenging) stage: closing the submarine sandwich, i.e., trapping the aforementioned fillings between the two loaves of bread.

Now, even a three year old would know that one must be extremely delicate when closing a sandwich filled with sauces and veg, otherwise it’ll all fall out. But strangely, the ‘sandwich artists’ at this sandwich shop seem unaware of this. Either that or they take their title of ‘artist’ very seriously, because, when they shut the sandwich, all the veggies and sauces explode outward; spilling all over the counter and creating what looks like food-based modern art. But the artists pay no heed to this. They simply grab as much of the sandwich and sauce and vegetables as can fit in their clenched hand and stuff it in a plastic cover, for you to reassemble when you eat. No wonder this particular franchise advertises its food as ‘fresh’; of course it’s fresh – we practically have to make it ourselves.

Mind you, this is only one order for one person. When I have to order four different sandwiches with different sauces and vegetables for each one of my family members, it’s just hell. In such situations, we all know that we just aren’t going to get what we ordered. We’ve learnt to be thankful that at least we’ve been served sandwiches. They could have just as well messed up our order and given us salads. It wouldn’t be beyond them.

So, why are the people at my sandwich shop so dull? Why are they unable to handle orders a toddler could handle? I believe the problem lies in their job description. We all know that artists are (and this is a generalization), on average, moody, eccentric, forgetful and prone to cutting off their ears. So basically, they’re people who don’t think through things very much. And who’s to say ‘sandwich artists’ aren’t the same?

I nominate thee for the WTMR award…

I’ve been nominated for the Wonderful Team Member Readership award! 
I’m going to call it the WTMR award, because acronyms make everything seem more important, especially if no one knows what they stand for. AWOL, for example. Until a few days ago, I didn’t even know that it was an acronym. I’d always thought of it as a proper word. But apparently, it stands for ‘absent without leave’.

AWOL’s much cooler.

I digress. I have been nominated for this really cool-sounding award by two amazing bloggers – Akshita from The Writer’s Nest, and Michaela from the mmmmm family. Go check out their blogs. You won’t regret it.

Okay, so the rules are:

1. The nominee of The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.

2. The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little; linking to their blogs; and telling them about it at their blogs.

3. The nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post during 7 days.

And here are the nominees…

1. Happy misadventures
2. Kevin Hellriegel’s Blog of Worthless Advice
3. Student-Mom-Superhero
4. The 19th Main Street
5. Crown Jules Blog
6. Amy Warren
7. friendlyfairytales
8. One Pen
9. Dad’s Pixels
10. The Laughing Mom
11. Multifarious Meanderings
12. The Waiting
13. Amanda Lannon
14. Me in Stitches

Thanks for reading!

I was walking down memory lane, but then my untied shoelaces tripped me

Learning how to tie my shoelaces is my earliest memory.

It is also my earliest failure.

Shoelace tying, as a concept, was first introduced to me when I was five years old, by my kindergarten teacher. She gave each of us little pieces of cardboard, with holes though which the shoelaces had been strung, ready and waiting for us to tie them together.

Up until now, shoelace tying was a menial task left to the slaves (apparently, the politically correct term for them nowadays is ‘parents’). We would present to them our shoe-clad feet, and voila! Within seconds, we were ready to go. No mess, no fuss. In fact, I didn’t even notice that shoes had shoelaces until my kindergarten teacher pointed them out.

So needless to say, when we presented with the shoelaces, we were taken aback. What was it? Some of us peered closely at it. Some of us (I won’t say who) began to chew on the alien object, hoping its taste and texture would give us a clue as to its origin.  It didn’t.

“Children, today you will learn how to tie your shoelaces,” announced the kindergarten teacher, her voice containing a tone of glee that immediately raised suspicion in our young minds. “Shoo lay suz,” we repeated after her, in a robotic tone. I didn’t like the sound of the word. It seemed sinister somehow.

“Alright, so, everybody, pick up each end of the shoelace.”

I did that, and smiled. ‘I’m pretty good at this shoelace tying business,’ I thought. ‘I should probably become a professional shoelace tie-er.’

“Okay,” the teacher continued, “Now make two bunny ears. The bunny runs around a tree. The bunny jumps into a hole and then jumps out again.”

I looked up at her, perplexed. Bunnies? Trees? Either I was going completely mad or completely deaf.

She looked straight me at smiled warmly. But to me, it seemed mocking. I could read her mind. ‘Ha!’ She was thinking. ‘I can do something that you can’t.’ (Now that I think of it, I was probably wrong about that. But who knows?)

I attacked the shoelaces fiercely, twisting and turning them into what seemed (at that time) vaguely bunny-ish. I pulled and tugged, hoping that this violent behaviour would somehow persuade my shoelaces to tie themselves. It didn’t work.

My teacher knelt beside me. “Let me show you how to do it. After all, I am a brilliant teacher, but you? You’re just a good-for-nothing child.” (Wait. Perhaps I’m confusing my teacher with Cindrella’s stepmother. But let’s move on.)

I looked at her angrily, and then looked around at the rest of my class. Many children had already mastered the art, but an equally large number of children (the ones with the more primitive, cavemen-type instincts) were, like me, beating their shoelaces to death. Although I’m not so sure whether it was out of haplessness or frustration.

Anyway, I had always counted myself among the more, um… let’s say ‘evolved’ children. After five years of people commending me for every drawing I made (even though my drawings were often misinterpreted), and praising me for learning the first ten letters of the alphabet, I had begun to think of myself an exceptional human being. A child-prodigy, at the very least.  

Turns out I was wrong. I was nothing more than the ordinary mortal, struggling with basic life skills that others of my age had mastered already. Not a whiz kid, not a genius – just average.

Turns out I was wrong about that too. I was even less than average, because when everybody else had finished tying up their laces, I was still sitting there, trying to make sense of the bloody rabbits and the holes. All I could think about was throwing the stupid rabbit down the stupid hole. Everyone was just staring at me, wondering why one little piece of string was such a challenge for me. Now that I think of it, the phrase ‘damn it’ may have been coined by someone trying to learn how to tie their shoelaces.

By the end of the day, I was close to tears. The teacher soothed me with some kind words and a pat on the back, and as I walked out of kindergarten, I realized that I had experienced something new that day. I had experienced my first (of many) failures.

The next day I came wearing Velcro shoes.  

 

In response to the Daily Post Challenge.