Remember that Seinfeld episode, The Soup Nazi, where there’s this guy that makes awesome soup, and if you don’t stand in line in formation, ask for it just the right way and accept whatever the chef (“the Soup Nazi”) dishes out, you don’t get soup. “NO SOUP FORYOU!”
Yeah, I got a guy like that I have to deal with.
So it’s the off season now, I’m able to ride a lot, do tons of ‘junk volume,’ zone 2 endurance and fat burning riding. This is a good time for me to lose weight. Part of the plan is to bring good lunches from home but on bad days where I leave the house in a hurry, I can hit up a local Greek bistro for a nice salad ($13) or Subway for a veggie sub ($7 with apples or baked chips and a drink). Both are pretty low cal, reasonably convenient to the office, and Subway is a bit awful but much cheaper. So Subway it is, at least when I think I can handle the Sub Nazi. This has a lot to do with my commitment to becoming a better racer, because there are dozens of higher calorie places with better tasting stuff, but the veggie sub is a known portion with a set calorie value and it's filling enough to fool me into thinking I ate a real meal.
What I won't do for my racing...
But there’s this guy in there, a short, moustachioed latino fellow who doesn’t much like me or anybody. I don’t know what life did to piss him off – probably if I was in a promising career being a pain in the ass at Subway, I’d be pissed too – and he takes it out on everybody else.
He’s not a mean kind of Sub Nazi. Oh no, he’s a “just following orders” kind of Sub Nazi. A passive aggressive sort of microfascist.
He doesn’t put enough vegetables on the subs.
Sounds like no big deal right? You get a foot long turkey double stuff Subway sub, you’re paying for a pound of steroid-infested turkey breast and turkey by-product, not some wilted lettuce. You want the Italian BMT, it’s all about ham, capiccolo and provolone, not some pasty, potato-ey tomato slices.
But you go in there for a veggie sub, you want veggies, right? And worse than thwarting the ravening desire for rabbit food, he's willfully defiant of customer requests, and he is apparently leading a small mutiny within the local Subway staff. You think I'm exaggerating?
About three weeks ago I pop in for a veggie sub, foot long. It’s like 500 calories, so I can indulge. The bread lady slices it, passes it to the Sub Nazi, and he starts filling it. In goes the three tomato slices (two short from what appears in the photos to be the regulation number of slices, but who’s counting, right?) and about two tablespoons of lettuce. He starts slinging in a couple cucumber slices, asks what I want, and I say some of everything. So I get some of everything – about a teaspoon of carrot and two pickle slices and a jalapeno slice. I don’t want to make a stink so I just take it, and by the time he’s done compressing the sub, slicing it and wrapping it up, it’s about an inch thick and pretty much devoid of filling. Like a good little boy I take my medicine and go back to the office, not quite fuming but sort of bugged. I was starving by 3:00 PM.
A couple weeks ago I go in and order the same sub. I’m resolved that I’m going to get the works – a frickin’ salad on bread, like the picture on the menu shows. The routine starts, the guy starts ladling out the vegetable portions as if he were sprinkling gold dust onto the wheat sub roll, and I go “hey, how ‘bout a little more salad there, buddy?” The Sub Nazi shouts, “you don’t have to yell!” The bread lady, a recent immigrant from Korea shouts at him, “what you doing wrong! Veggie sub! You supposed to put veggies on it.!” The recent immigrant Chinese dressing/cutting/bagging guy just smirked, and the Sub Nazi sullenly packed on a bunch of lettuce – so much so that when I unwrapped it later I had to take some of the lettuce out of it, lest my office be doused with lettuce like the bottom of a rabbit’s cage.
Still, I’m chuffed because I think we’ve solved the little problem at the local Subway, which in case you wondered resembles the UN, and that’s without taking into account the World Bank staff, who work just around the corner. It's got all the features of the UN - squabbling between the citizens of various nations, nothing gets done right, and the people paying the bills have a sense that maybe they aren't getting their money's worth out of the damn thing.
So last week I go in. It’s the same lineup behind the counter. I order the same damn veggie sub. The Sub Nazi looks at me with this evil gleam in his eyes. He immediately reverts to form and puts about a tablespoon of lettuce on the damn sub. I complain, kinda quietly but loud enough that he hears me. He looks me right in the eye and passes it to the Chinese dressing/cutting/bagging man, smirking, and then goes "next!" I decide not to fight it but to make sure that I at least get some flavoring on the sub, so I ask “and crushed red pepper paste and jalapenos please." So this guy spoons like a cup of crushed red peppers and about 30 jalapeno slices on it, and gives me the evil eye. Oh shit, it’s getting worse - the Sub Nazi has brought the Chinese guy into his little vendetta. [Dude, Chinese Guy is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please...] So after I eat the sub, which was impossibly hot but which I’d vowed to eat, I wondered what to do. The only thing I could do, was to confront the problem. I had to go back there.
Tuesday, I’m in the Subway. We go through the usual routine. I give the guy the staredown when I come in. It's like High Noon, and I'm Gary freakin' Cooper. I *can’t* back off. I can’t let him win. Yet he’s going to screw me if I get the veggie sub.
What am I going to do here? I can’t lose in a mano-a-mano with the Sub Nazi.
So I do the only thing I can do. Change the rules of the game. I order the foot long Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sub. Hah, I’ll beat that bastard at his own game. It's not perfect on calories, but come on, four pieces of bacon, and I'm riding 40 miles today on the fixed gear... nothing to it.
So we do the usual routine. The Korean bread lady cuts up the wheat bread. She passes it down to the Sub Nazi and tells him “BLT, Footlong.” He eyeballs me, gives me the “you killed my father, prepare to die” look, and pulls out a half portion of bacon. But it’s a footlong! He’s only giving me one piece of friggin’ bacon! I know I need to lose some weight but this is ridiculous! That’s a half portion for a 6” sub. It's nowhere near what I'm paying for! This is insane. I’m in a sub feud, and this guy is kicking my ass. I stand there fuming while he nukes it for 15 seconds, then pulls it out. “You want thee lettuce and thee bacone?” “Yes, please,” I said rather meekly. “It’s a bacon, *lettuce and tomato* sandwich, right?”
He piles on about two pounds of lettuce, ten or 15 slices of tomato, gives me an evil-ass grin and passes it along to the dressing/wrapping/cutting Chinese guy. He asks me if I want any topping. I tell him a little mayo. So he puts like two cups on, ladles a half cup of crushed hot red pepper paste on it, wraps it and cuts it, and hands it over, also grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
So I’m eating this BLT in the office on Tuesday, with my mouth burning and mayo dripping out of the sandwich onto my shoes, wondering what to do. Fasting? Salads from the local McDonalds? Maybe something more serious?
I think arson is probably out of the question, but if I ever meet that Jared dude, I’m going to kick his freakin' veggie sub-eating ass. Mark my words, compadres. Mark my words.