Ordering lunch used to be a fairly uneventful process. We've recently switched food services where I work. With the change came a rash of new employees. Some of them appear to have been put on the front lines without sufficient training. What follows is what actually happened when I recently ordered a BLT.
I walk up to the sandwich counter and finally make eye contact with a young woman who clearly would have preferred to have been elsewhere. Nevertheless, I stood there bravely until she acknowledged me. Once smiles had been exchanged, I thought the worst was over. Oh, but no. Here's how it went:
I order a BLT on rye, untoasted.
She pulls out the rye bread and asks me if I want it toasted.
I say, no. Untoasted.
Then she lays the bread out on the board, in front of the fixings bar, and stands over it staring at me.
"What want you on this?"
I blink. "A BLT, please," I repeat, thinking, after the toast-no-toast confusion that perhaps she hadn't heard me. Or, at least, never heard anything but "rye."
She blinks in return. "Yes, yes. What want you on it?"
Now she has my attention. "Bacon," I say. "Lettuce, and tomato," I say, and then think to add the answer to the only remaining question that might need to be asked. "And mayo on the side, please."
With staggering indecision, she reaches for bacon, picks up one strip and holds it out to me for approval. "Yes," I say, seeing that we're about to get somewhere. "That's bacon. That'll do."
So, she folds the one strip of bacon in half and lays it on one slice of the rye bread. And looks at me, waiting. "Excuse me," I say, "I've asked for a bacon
, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Could you put a little more bacon
on that?" Clearly, I've broken a rule, as she glances furtively over her shoulder for the presence of her supervisor, and puts one more slice on the bread. "May I have one more?" I ask. Reluctantly she complies. The bacon is now on my sandwich. And her hands are back on the sandwich board as she once more stares blankly at me.
"Yes?" I say, somewhat uncertainly, unsure of what further confusion there might be.
"What else want you?" she counters, clearly becoming exasperated with my apparent indecision.
"Um," I said. "Let's see. How about some lettuce?" I'm really getting into this now, wanting to see how far it can go.
She picks up some leaves of spinach. "No, no," I say. "Not spinach. I didn't ask for bacon, SPINACH, and tomato. Lettuce," I enunciate clearly, pointing to the romaine.
Ok. Now she's on it. We get through the lettuce part without further difficulty. And now her hands are on her hips and I need not stretch my imagination to know that her toe is tapping.
"What else?" she says. I'm encouraged. Her English is improving.
"Tomato?" I ask.
One thin slice of hot house tomato lands in the middle of the lettuce. I decide, given the styrofoam appearance of the poor thing, not to push for more. But what's this? She's now reaching for the mayo without being prompted. Some part of my original request appears to have registered. "Mayo," I'd requested, "on the side." I'm really, deeply gratified by this, until the hands go back on the hips and the exasperation in her attitude has deepened to a point where I'm actually beginning to feel at fault here.
"What?" I venture cautiously.
"Well," she says, picking up the ominously dangerous looking squirt bottle of mayo and levelling it at me. She gestures at each side of the sandwich, one with three thin slices of overcooked bacon lying forlornly upon it, and the other with a leaf of romaine, and one, sad, thin, pale slice of tomato staring up like a bloodshot eye. With a great sigh, she appears to realize how dense I truly must be.
"Well," she repeats. "Which side you want it on?"