The lady brandished the 14” bread knife at me as she spoke, each syllable accented with a flicking of the knife through the air.
“That was not me, sir,” she said sternly. (Five flicks.)
“It absolutely was you,” I said.
“You did it last week,” my safety buoyed by the counter between us.
It’s rare you find yourself in a confrontation at the sub counter in a grocery store, but I sure as hell did.
It started three weeks ago, and like the Bloods and Crips, escalated to outlandish proportions.
You see, every week Bonnie and I order a 14” Italian sub to eat over the weekend. Well, three weeks ago when I ordered the sub I was told by the lady who would soon be brandishing the knife that they were running a special: buy one 7” sub and get a 7” sub for free. “Great,” I said, “I’ll take it.” I really was not paying attention, but at the very last moment, I noticed she cut the sub, made on a 14” roll, in half, wrapped each separately and gave me both pieces.
“Hmm,” I thought, “had I known that I would not have had her cut it.” Why? Because we bring our sub home whole, and cut it into thirds. Lesson learned.
The following week, I went to the counter and told the lady (who had no idea at this point in seven days hence she would be considering felony murder) that I would like the special, but just do not cut it.
“I can’t so that,” she said.
Before we go further, a few facts:
1. I was not asking for anything special, including: extra meat, half-toasted, double wrapped, the tomatoes not touching the lettuce or Swiss cheese with minimal holes.
2. Had the special meant I would get 7” inch bread, I would have been fine. I would assume they got a deal on 7” rolls somewhere. It was the EXACT SAME SANDWICH, just cut in half (and at the very end to boot.)
Round two was successfully mediated by a younger worker – kind of like the former gang member who goes back to the neighborhood. Reluctantly, she left the sandwich intact and just put two stickers on.
It was 1 to 1. The rubber match.
This week when I showed up at the counter, I thought the problem was solved. This is when the lady began wielding the knife, steadfast in her resolve. I felt like asking her if she forgot what the gang mediator had done last week.
After some posturing, she went to ask a manager.
“We can’t do it.” I think her teeth were clenching.
“You don’t remember this discussion last week? You were here last week, I remember. Just put two stickers on it, that’s all.”
Granted, I sort of felt like an elitist prick at this point. And truthfully, I really had no desire to upset this older lady. I brushed those feelings aside.
She went back to the manager who I am sure told her, “Okay, just don’t cut the sub for the elitist prick.”
“Okay, what kind of cheese do you want?” the knife back on the counter.
I almost said, “The same kind I asked for when I fucking ordered before you tried to turn this into a Federal racketeering case.” But I didn’t.
When she handed me my uncut sub, I also didn’t say, “See, that wasn’t so hard after all.” I did say, “See you next week.” I swear I heard the knife flick through the air.