July 31st 2012
It was a late night at the office…a little past 5 to be exact….and I was caught in an awkward sandwich of time between the workday and a writing class I was enrolled in later that evening.
Pun intended for the story to come.
A snack seemed like an optimal use of my time.
…Isn’t it always though?
Santa Fe Sandwich,
I waltzed into a local cafe. Ready for the sandwich. Unprepared for battle.
In order to protect the name of this sandwich shop employee I’ll label him with a common name to conceal his identity.
Lancelot peeked over the glass counter with a vacant look. His english was subpar and the glass separating us was relatively soundproof, so excuse my translations.
“Hi I’ll take the Santa Fe sub on wheat, please,” I cordially requested.
Lancelot began to laugh hysterically.
Looked me straight in the eye and said “kfghieussuu. Not paying attention to you whatsoever.”
“Ah. Well. When you get the chance, A Santa Fe would be divine. Whenever you’re done twirling, of course. First things first.”
“THAT SOUNDS GREAT OMG” Lancelot screamed.
Lovin the enthusiasm, Lancelot. Love-ing it. I feel the same way.
He carefully placed the meat and cheese on the bread like the magical chef he was. He escorted it to the toaster as I watched like a kid in the candy store on the other side.
Lancelot returned from his journey. I was unaware that this was such an emotional process.
“So you, (something something) here or something?” Inquired Lancelot. I think.
Hmm. Go for a safe response, Olive.
“Oh for sure!”
Lancelot’s face shifted from” happy-go-lucky sub man” to a more “why did you just punt my dog off a bridge?!” expression.
“So that’s why SLDJBFALSD boyfriend none?!”
…I’m not entirely sure…what did I just…okay. Safe answer take 2. But only because it went so well last time.
“Oh for sure.” I’d say anything to get closer to this Santa Fe, goddamit.
This conversation however, was not.
Lancelot waited a moment before shimmying over to the toaster. He was disappointed in my single ways. He glared at me, and kept in uncomfortable eye contact the entire way there.
The Santa Fe was
——————–to the topping table via Lancelot.
I began to tell him which condiments I would prefer, forgetting that that wasn’t why I came to the subway shop. It coincided with Lancelot’s therapy session. My mistake.
“Soo some lettuce and a little…”
Lancelot broke down.
“lsdfghd for the books and monkeys, you know? It hurt my feelings (some sort of humming noise) and WHY WHY WHY?”
His accent and the glass was getting thicker with each passing veggie. His confessions became deeper and my sandwich became larger. And pretty soon my dinner went from a classic turkey and avocado to a veggie, meat lovers, california cobb delight.
“Totally. Sure thing. I couldn’t agree more about both…the monkeys and…the books. Oh no Olives please!”
“Oh hold the tomatoes”
“I’m going to say no to the relish”
My olive, tomato, relish sandwich was now the stress relief of dear Lancelot as he piled each passing ingredient without any consent whatsoever. “I always wanted to marry (something something) potatoes and sometimes (dfgljhbg) and I don’t know what happened. Do you think so?”
Class was in 25 minutes. And I was fearing for the well being of both my sandwich and my survival.
“That sounds super stressful. I think…I’m sure…Godamn potatoes. They’re assholes. Side note, I’m going to get chips and a…” Lancelot disappeared.
And then reappeared with no explanation at all.
Class was in 20 minutes.
“I think dfghoerudsh because you single and that’s shameful. How dare you?”
“So I’m just gonna snow ball off of that and say just the sub then…whatever that sub…may be…Thank you.”
Wrong answer, again.
He moseyed over to the cash register.
“You should gbgdgsh!”
A great suggestion, Lancelot.
He was no longer behind the glass. The only thing standing between him and I was the cashier and his detailed play by play description of his recent Tuesday night. He had class from 8-12 that day. Wasn’t pleased with the yogurt he had for lunch. Was amused by the rerun of Reba on TV and had mixed feelings about alfalfa sprouts.
I slowly reached for my mystery sub and began to make it do a small dance. Just a friendly reminder that my class was in 12 minutes and I did indeed come for other reasons than to catch up. I guess I could have just said it. But a dancing sub? That’s kind of funny.
A door shut.
The boss was back.
Lancelot panicked and began to ring up my mystery sub. He gave me a 10% discount for reasons unknown. A fair bargain for the confusion that just ensued.
Lancelot disappeared, again.
I bee lined for the exit.
Class was in 8 minutes.
As I sprinted towards freedom I felt an arm pull me back.
This time there was nothing separating the two of us.
“Thank you for the talk today. I don’t get to talk to many people so, thank you for listening.”
You know what though? He looked so happy. Happy that someone actually listened to him. God only knows what he said…but I swear I tried. You kind of feel bad for someone who waits for someone to order a Santa Fe sub to have an opportunity to talk to someone, anyone.
“Of course. I’m sure I’ll be back sometime soon!”
The tides rapidly changed.
“Could you be more specific? Perhaps the hour and minute of what time you’ll be back tomorrow?”
I feel like that’s not…what…I…said….
“Ah well, I’ll be back soon, I promise. I have to go!”
And just like that I disappeared. En route to class. How to explain my tardiness to the instructor…
When I finally sat down in class, 15 minutes late. (Your bad, Lancelot) I took a first bite of my questionable sub.
It was delicious, unexpected and new. And it made me realize that sometimes the strangest people and even sandwiches can make the best stories. My friends always ask me why I don’t just walk away in situations like that (yes, this happens to me entirely too often.) And my answer is this:
I’m not better than anyone. I’d gladly trade in 10 minutes of my day to listen to someone who needs to talk…even if that someone is Lancelot. Why make someone feel embarrassed for wanting to do something so human? Thank you, Lancelot, keep those discounts coming.