Tuesday, February 21

Subbin' It Up.

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(Yes, this entire post is about sub sandwiches. Sure, it's humorous and informative enough, but I'll understand if you want to skip it. Please don't, though. I'd be just shattered.)

I love subs about as much as legally possible. Believe me, the law is not flexible on these things.

I'd eat them 3 meals a day if I could survive the lethal strain it would put on my heart. For my money, they are as close to perfect as food can be. You have great tasting, soft bread (Garlic Herb is my favorite), a thick, artery-sludging inch of heavy mayo, expertly sliced cheeses of your choice, fresh shredded lettuce and crisp, red onions to top off this most wondrous creation. As I don't eat meat, that's all I take in my sub, and it's all I will ever need to be truly happy.

I could go for one right now. In fact, I'll be right back. Hang on a minute.

Okay. As I was saying, sub sandwiches make me happy. However, because they cost money and aren't good for me at all the way I like them, I've been restraining myself to only one per work week for lunch. The remaining four days, I'm stuck with frozen pasta or macaroni and cheese. Believe you me, I look forward to 'sub day' like I look forward to payday.

In Madison, we have approximately 68 million different sub franchises. Cousins, Subway, Blimpie, Milio's (formerly Big Mike's), Sub's Ahoy!, Yellow Submarine, Tubby's Subs, Sub-Machine, Rub-A-Dub-Subs, George Michael's Sub Machine; the list goes on forever (I might have made the last few up, I can't remember). It's one of the reasons I'm never moving, along with the fact that my wife and cats live here. This abundance of sandwich goodness makes them all very hard to resist, but it has given me a great cross-section to sample and rate. I've been to every sub shack in this fine city, and have become a pro when it comes to the beautiful dance that is sandwich creation and consumption.

I'm offering today's post as a public service announcement to other fellow sub lovers. Heed my words, I'm about to make your next sub experience worlds more enjoyable.

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Let's get right down to it. When it comes to the bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest common denominator, absolute worst sub franchise in America, Subway wins this contest, hands-down. It may be the biggest and baddest franchise in the nation, but overall, they can't hold a greasy candle to anyone else in the game.

For starters, their portions are out of touch. They're still sticking with the tried-and-true 6 and 12-inch styles. For the same price, you can get a 7 and 14-inch sub at Cousins or an 8 and 16-inch sub at Milio's (a Dane county staple). That's an extra 4 inches for free! That should be enough right there to send you elsewhere. I've been known to cross state lines just to get the sandwich I happen to be craving at the time.

Secondly, they have the worst customer service I have ever seen (not to mention, the ugliest store design on earth). Every single time I walk into a Subway, I'm instantly reminded of why I should never go there again, and feel like I'm about to be shot in the back of the head.

For some reason, Subway always seems to hire one of two types of terrible employees.

The first type is the attitude and angst-ridden high schooler. This young boy or girl hates their job so much that they refuse to even look at you during the course of the entire transaction. They talk openly about hating their job, even as they make your sandwich, and will take frequent breaks to do other things during the process. Because of their lack of eye contact, you'll need to tell them what you want on your sandwich a half-dozen times, and they'll still get it wrong. Eventually, they'll spot a friend of theirs, and spend the next five minutes talking to them while your lunch slowly spoils behind the sneeze-guard. For the time it takes them to construct this ragged masterpiece, I could have jumped behind the counter, killed everyone wearing an apron and still made the sandwich faster.

That's another thing I can't stand about Subway. The 'Sandwich Artist' buttons those employees have to wear. It's not an art form to put edible things in between bread for the purpose of consumption. Besides, I have never been handed a sub that made me want to place it behind a velvet rope for viewing. At least, not one from Subway.

The second type of employee is the attitude and angst-ridden middle-ager. Clearly, I'm not being judgemental concerning age here, because the young and old can equally suck at making my sandwiches. This specific type of person makes your sandwich with such staggering contempt and apathy, you think they're going to slit your throat or pass out, whatever's easier for them at the time. They don't even try to hide the fact that they hate you with the flaming intensity of a thousand suns.

It never fails. I'll walk into a Subway, and a 6 foot 4, 600 pound Sandwich Artist will stand there with her hands on her hips, looking at me as if I wasn't wearing pants. Head cocked, eyes wide open, just counting down the seconds in her head until she can take her break and never see me again.

"What you want?"

"Um, a foot-long, please. Just lettuce, cheese and mayo."

(She's not making eye contact with me, therefore she's not hearing a damn word I'm saying.)


"Um...just lettuce, cheese and mayo. Foot-long, please."

(At this point, she starts constructing my 6-inch sandwich. Without even looking up at me...)


"Yes, lettuce."

"You want cheese?"

"Yes, please."

"6 inch?"

"No, a foot-long, please."

(At this point, she looks up at me like I somehow made a mistake that completely and utterly destroyed her day. Now angry at me for supposedly changing my mind about the length of my sandwich, she exhales loudly and starts over.)

"Want sprouts?"

"No, thank you. Just lettuce, cheese and mayo."

(Another heavy exhale. The phone rings, and as she walks away to answer it, knocks my entire half-made sub into the vat of sprouts. Later, she pretends it didn't happen, seemingly forgetting that the barrier between the two of us is made of glass. I say nothing, for fear she will yell at me. I'm running late as is.)

"What else?"

"What? Nothing, thank you."

It is at this point where she wraps my sandwich up in paper, but realizes that she put way too much lettuce in it to close properly. Instead of rectifying the situation, she just flattens the sandwich temporarily and wraps it up as quickly as possible, essentially spring-loading the damn thing to surprise me later. When I take it back to the office to enjoy, I notice that the sub package is all but vibrating with pressure, waiting to explode all over me. All it takes is for me to put a slight tear into the side of the paper for the entire sandwich to come sproinging out like a worm-filled can of novelty peanuts. Lettuce and mayo covers my important documents and newspaper. Thanks, Subway.

It should be mentioned that everything I just said has happened to me at one point or another.

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Look, it's not all bad, though. Mainly because every other sub joint in the city is amazing. Cousins is my favorite.

Why? Because they hire ex-convicts.

Former inmates make good sandwiches because they don't want to go back to jail. They put far more pride into their work than teenagers, and understand efficiency and assembly-line ethic from their prison and factory experience. They were tailor-made to make sandwiches for a living.

They always call me 'sir,' and talk nice and loud. They're usually missing a tooth or two, so they whistle when they talk.

"Isss that all, sssssir?"

"Yup, that'll do it, thanks."

"Sssssix sssssixteen, sssssir! You wanna reccccceipt?"


They really shine when it comes down to the science of a sandwich. They are quick-draw ninjas with the condiments, and keep the mayo in a holster.

"Ex-ssssstra mayo, sssssir?"


(He then pulls a bottle of mayo from the holster in his side-pocket, twirls it three times and splorts it liberally onto my Garlic Herb bread before twirling it again and placing it back in its chamber. It's usually at this point when I place a dollar or two in the tip jar. It's worth it, because I didn't just get a sub, I got a show!)

Speaking of which, should you tip at fast food places? Some people think not, because they aren't doing the normal tasks of a waiter at a restaurant. Personally, I tip when they do a good job. For example, if I go to a place so many times that they know my order by heart, that just earned them an extra dollar. way to go!

In conclusion, I don't like Subway. Sub sandwiches rule; you might want to consider eating one for lunch or dinner today. Tell 'em the CDP sent you; they probably know who I am. Sound off in the comments section, and tell me what you like on your sub.

You know how sometimes you just get a certain thought in your head and it stays with you all day? I went to work one Tuesday morning and the belly started grumbling around nine. A lot of the guys do super Tuesday at Subway and it got me thinkning about a nice 12" tuna w/american cheese and lettuce (lettuce does not have to be American, I like international produce) I started obsessing about how good that sub would be. (even Subway has a hard time messing up tuna) My stomach acids started re arranging themselves for maximum tuna digestion efficiency. Finally lunchtime arrived.
I walked into the store and was pleased to discover a short line at the counter. The local DPW, construction crews, and prison highway clean up gangs had not yet arrived. I had beat rush. Sweet. I waited patiently for my turn to order all the while telling my taste buds to calm down.
When the moment came I asked politely for a 12" Tuna on Honey Oat. She looked me in the eye and said "We're all out of Tuna".
I raced through the five steps in a heartbeat. The raw emotion flicked across my face in rapid sequence.



Think you can make some?

damn, I really wanted that sub. we would have been good together.

and finally:

"I'll have the chicken salad"

Still a little disappointed I shuffled over the register. She rang up my order, asked if I wanted some stupid chips or cookies, then told me it would be $6.39 for the sub. "WHAT? I thought it was Super Duper No Tuna Tuesday?" Apparently chicken salad is not on the approved list. No substitutions. I felt like I just received the punch to the gut, knee to the face combo. I walked, head down, dejected, from the store.
I knew I should have gone to d'Angelo's
I rest my case. Subway will ruin your day if you give it the slightest bit of power over your being. Sorry about that. I also like how you brought up the 5 stages of grief again. I really like it when things all tie together.

It should also be mentioned that this is the second time in just as many days that I talked about subs. I think that means I'm jumping the shark or something.
Subways very greatly from store to store depending on who owns and manages them. The store in my town is actually pretty well-run, clean, mostly nice employees, etc... Drive a half hour to Springdale, and you get served by (ex?)-heroin addicts in a store that looks like Beruit.

I haven't been in the Subway in my town for going on one year. Preceeding that, I was there maybe 4 times a week for my delicious low-carb chicken wrap. Everyone knew my order, I didn't have to say a word when I walked up to the counter, and I'd often get multiple punches in my sub card. Occasionally, I'd be declared customer of the week and would get my meal for free. It was pretty great.

It was pretty great till the girl (who I happen to not find attractive) that worked there apparently developed a crush on me, had her manager hand me her phone number, and started attending my church and calling me. So I stopped going to Subway, it's been over a year now. I wanted to blog about it on my blog, but I'm sure that would come back and bite me in the blog.

Remember on Spinal Tap when they had that album called Shark Sandwich? More like Shit Sandwich.
Subways "vary" greatly, I have a somewhat limited command over the English language.
I like the Subway I go to. Sure, sometimes the employees are buttholes and give you mean looks, but they make my sandwich how I like it. When I go to the Subway that is just 1/4 mile away from my apartment, they know most of my order and smile at me because they know who I am. Awww, that gives me the warm fuzzies.
My friend Matt went into a Subway and said "I'll have a hoagie." and when they looked confused, he said, "Nevermind, give me a grinder." Peripherally related note: He also won a medium fry at McDonalds once, and they brought him a large fry, and he made them take it back and get him a medium.
I like subs. I haven't had Cousins in forever. I should go there soon.
He should have just asked for a Hero like everyone else.

I like the Subway Stalker idea. Sounds like a Lifetime original movie to me.
The one thing Subway has done across this country is homogenize the sandwich language. Unlike Hoagie/Grinder/Po' boy/Hero everyone knows what you mean when you say Sub. Now let's work on the Soda/Tonic/Pop thing. Of course around here it's a Coke. If you ask for a Pepsi you go thirsty. Which is hard for me beause I like Dr. Pepper.
What does any of this have to do with TV shows?
Unfortunately, we uniformed folk have a hard time eating out. I prefer Cousin's, although they can get expensive... if I stand by the counter, I can watch them make the sandwich, which I like. That's the one reason you'll see cops eat at Subway.. the food may suck, but they can't mess with it. Unlike McDonald's and Dimpfus Burger, which, through personal experience, have messed with cop food.
Does that look like spit to you?
This is all quite humorous to me. I knew that everyone had varying opinions on subs. It's a very important part of my life and yours.

I promise you, if you like going to Subway, you'll like going somewhere else better. I know that each franchise is different, but man, I've got a streak of bad luck with them that goes back generations. Although, being declared Customer of the Week does sound pretty cool.

Wow, that Subway Stalker thing is interesting. I suppose it's very flattering, but yeah, you'd have to stop going there to simmer things down. You wouldn't want her to start leaving subs on your doorstep...or would you?

RJ, I suppose cops really appreciate dining establishments when you can see your food being made. I've never had a problem with the cops, and I'd still probably do something nasty to a sandwich if given the chance.

Paste, your friend Matt sounds like a jerk. Exactly the right sort of person who needs to start commenting on the CDP. He'd fit right in. I don't know what it is that makes me want to mess with waiters all the time, but it happens probably once a week.

I used to call a sub a hoagie until that Adam Sandler song turned it into a novelty.

In Wisconsin, we say 'pop' instead of 'Coke' or soda.' We also say 'bubbler' instead of 'drinking fountain.' I've been told that we're the only ones who do that, and everyone outside of the state will think you're weird if you mention it in their company.
We say bubbler here too, unless you're a wicked salty bastard. Then you call it a scuttlebutt.

New England rules, and I've never even been there. Me and the Missus are dying to visit Boston. I think besides Madison, it's the only other city tailor-made for us. We've done research.

Is it true that nobody in Maine says the word "yet?" That's just what I heard on the street. Something about the fact that 'yet' is a completely redundant and useless word, so they don't use it in conversation.

I need an audio file of you saying "Bob Loblaw's Law Blog."
Oddly enough I don't have the stereotypical Bahston accent. Most South Shore townfolk are proficient enunciators and rather enjoy using the letter 'R'
But, I can definately relapse at will. We are a proud people and everyone has training in the local dialect.
A word on Mainers. I don't know if they never say 'yet' or not. But the idea behind it does ring of truth. I have some family up there and have visited a few times. Mainers have strange reactions to questions or comments that can be answered by common sense observation. Meaning they look at you like you're ret.. slow. In everyone else's defense, the definition of what is considered common sense up there is way out out of wack. uh-yuh
Yeah, it seems like Boston'ers really like their city. I wasn't used to stuff like that until I moved to Madison.

Mainers sound interesting. I shall visit there post haste. I'll pepper my phrases with 'yet' to see how I'm greeted. I'm willing to throw it all on the line for the greater good.
As a side note, this post was featured on the Isthmus 'misc.' section the day it was published:


I'm somewhere in the middle of the pack. This is funny because they have turned me down for a writing job twice. I guess they like me when they don't have to write me checks.

Just kidding, Isthmus. If you want me to work for you, all you have to do is ask.

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