I have found the equivalent to the Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld show.
We’ve been going to the same little restaurant in the 7-Eleven strip mall for twenty-one years. Just a teeny hangout on our main street, but it’s always packed with regulars who stand in line at the sandwich bar and order their “tuna salad on homemade sourdough” or their “bacon and shrimp on a whole wheat roll.” The soup is consistently piping hot and delicious. It’s a steamy little restaurant, not much room to move when you’re standing in line, but it’s a treasure trove of good food.
I’ve noticed for the past couple of years, since the front counter staff has changed hands, that the two new ladies who make the sandwiches have not been in a very good mood (although I’ve done my typical dysfunctional thing—trying extra hard to be friendly and smiley—not unlike Jerry Seinfeld who tried to mollify the Soup Nazi.) And just like Jerry, I have had no luck in melting their stony hearts.
So yesterday, I was standing in line and one of the sandwich-making ladies looked at me and said, “Are you having a sandwich?” I said, “Yes,”
“What would you like?” I told her what I wanted. She said, “What kind of bread?” I said, “French.”
The guy behind me echoed, “French.”
She said, “butter and mayo?” I said, “a little bit of both.”
The guy behind me also said, “a little bit of both.”
By this time, I figured he was just being funny, echoing everything I said. A joke. I laughed.
Then the other sandwich lady looked up at me and said, “She’s serving HIM,” indicating the guy behind me in the line-up. Which was weird because … he was behind me.
I said, “But she was looking at me.”
The first sandwich lady said, “No. I am serving HIM!” Which meant she had been looking right through me to the other guy.
It could have been a humorous situation, but neither sandwich lady showed the slightest inclination toward the comical. And no apology. Ok. So now the other sandwich lady wanted to know what I wanted. She glared at me as if I had committed an unpardonable sin by wasting her time getting confused by the sandwich assembly protocol.
I felt all shut down and stupid. I spoke quietly.
Could I have turkey and avocado?
“We don’t HAVE avocado,” she said, as if I had just asked for caviar.
Uh, okay. Usually they do have avocado.
Did I want tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, sprouts? She looked like she was going to kill me and hang me by my thumbs in the window as an example to other customers. Like a big, raw chicken.
“Everything but the sprouts.” Of course now, I was talking very quietly because I was mad at her for being mad at me.
“No sprouts.” I said again.
Did I want cheddar or Edam? I could see it in her eyes. I was a heinous, disgusting piece of dirt beneath her feet. I needed to be swept from the restaurant like rat poop.
“Edam,” I said, so quietly she couldn’t hear me.
“CHEDDAR OR EDAM?” I was about to be sent to the principal’s office.
She finished making the sandwich and handed it to me without comment.
These Rulers of the universe, dark She-Lords of the sandwich shop left me shaking and upset, intimidated to the point that the terrible truth became clear. They had become the Neo Soup Nazis, the Evil Sandwich Queens, able to wield power, simply due to the tastiness of their superior food. Dictators of the delicious.
I had been defeated.
As I sat down, my husband said, “Gee, I was trying to think of a zippy come-back but I couldn’t think of anything to say. Do you want me to punch them for you?”
I didn’t think it would be wise. Instead I fought back tears as I ate the last bites of the most delicious turkey (without avocado) sandwich on homemade french bread, sipped my last spoonfuls of perfectly spiced beef barley soup with utter sadness.
I knew it now. I would never go back.
A tragic day.
For great sandwiches are hard to find.