I used to go Subway every day for lunch. And almost every day I’d walk out in a rage.
Like, literally a rage.
One time on the way back down to my office, I think I kicked a wall in a stairwell. Yeah, pretty sure that happened.
Why? Because they made the sandwiches poorly. They’d always reach past the fresh red tomatoes and put those weird white and yellow crunchy tomatoes on there. And like one jalapeno. And if I asked for more I’d get 50. And the mustard would spray all over it, and then they wouldn’t do the thing with the knife where they kind of “pat it down” so that when I opened it it wouldn’t be a smushy mess. You see, I’m one of those guys that prefers it when my sandwich is NOT a smushy mess. Half the time they weren’t even looking at the sandwich while they were making it. If they were indeed “sandwich artists” then clearly they were doing derivative Jasper Johns works. (Note: I italicized Jasper Johns to emphasize that it’s a joke and to impress you with the reference.) Oh, and one time, I swear, they gave me a sandwich that resembled a clock dripping off a branch.
As far as I was concerned, the lack of love these Subway workers put into their sandwiches was their way of saying “Jamie Flam, fuck you. You are a fucking piece of shit, Jamie Flam, so here’s a shitty sandwich just for you, you stupid idiot.”
And so I kicked walls in stairwells.
Looking back, it was pretty silly of me. I didn’t take the time to really see the situation for what it was. These Subway workers didn’t have anything personal against me. They were likely just in their own heads, dealing with their own shit, which was probably worse than my shit, seeing as how they were making minimum wage at Subway.
The same goes for all the annoying things that used to destroy entire days for me. The people in line in front of me at the grocery store aren’t trying to fuck me over, nor is the person who doesn’t know about the fact that you can totally inch forward into the intersection from the left turn lane so that others can turn as well before the light turns red. They are just other people, living in their own heads, dealing with their own shit.
I still have mini bouts of frustration when people don’t deliver in the way I’d like them to, but I try to quickly put things in perspective, and have some empathy, which goes a long way.
When I get in my own head about stuff, I try to think about the fact that the universe didn’t go through eons and eons of evolution, and Iron Ages, and Wars, and Dark Ages, and Light Ages, and Renaissances, and Enlightenments, and Manifest Destinies, and Industrial Ages, and all the other Ages, just so I could be furious about a poorly made sandwich.
Abraham Lincoln didn’t write the Gettysburg Address so I could be pissy about a slow bagger at Trader Joe’s. Harriet Tubman didn’t risk her life on the underground railroad so I could honk like a maniac at the fucker that doesn’t know how to make a left turn.
And dammit, I didn’t just make two consecutive Civil War references so you could lash out at me, you stupid stairwell wall!