Monday, December 14, 2009

CI #43 -- Subway

If your chief complaint about New York is "there just aren't enough shopping malls," you're not looking hard enough.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Atlantic Center Mall, which is just one Mrs. Field's Cookie Stand shy of being the real deal. So it makes sense that they'd have a Subway and that I'd eat there.

In general I support Subway, meaning that I eat there on a semi-regular basis. It's the perfect place to go when all you want is a moderately priced, mediocre meal.

That's their pledge -- and really every fast food chain's pledge -- to provide you with exactly the same crap no matter where you are. Subway: Guaranteed to be mediocre.

But there's nothing wrong with that. $5 plus tax for a footlong sandwich (with a slim possibility of leftovers!). You really can't beat that. At some Subways, they even have spinach. Now we're eating fresh.

There is one main difference in NYC Subways though: they're assembly lines run with mechanistic precision. All sandwich artistry is lost.

As soon as you call out "tomatoes," they've already moved on to lettuce. What you end up with is basically one of everything you ask for.

So the challenge becomes, "How can I manipulate this rushed, underpaid Subway employee into making this mediocre sandwich more solidly mediocre?"

Just follow the Greg Volk Subway System:

- Ask for your "sauce" first, immediately after your sandwich leaves the meat and cheese station. This really throws a wrench in the works as the "sauces" are placed at the end of the assembly line, but if you time this move properly, it has minimal impact on the line.

This ensures that the mustard isn't simply dashed on top, leaving you with the taste of mustard only on some bites.

- Pace. Yourself. And. Them. Let's say you want lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, list all your requests from the start. If you do, you'll end up with sporadic lettuce, two tomato slices, and max three pickles.

DO name each ingredient one at a time, pausing and counting to two one-thousand in between them. E.g.: "Lettuce ('One one-thousand, two one-thousand')... Tomatoes..." etc.

- Toast your sub only if there is virtually no line. Otherwise, well God help you. I am a fan of toasting; it seems to legitimize your "meal." Meal's are hot. Snacks and lunches are cold. But let's be reasonable. The Subway line is no place to pass the time.

- Don't get fountain Coke. For years, this was my main draw to Subway. They always had fountain Coke (and still do), but most franchise owners have taken to boosting the soda and decreasing the syrup to up profit margins. Do not play their game. You're better than that.

- Enjoy (read: eat).

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