Good Morning, Mr. Mayonnaise

An adventure in central Kansas hospitality:Stopped at a gas station to fuel up and decided to grab a sandwich at the sub stand inside. The man behind the counter looked like about sixty years' worth of cornpone wisecrackery. I gave him a friendly nod, glanced over the menu, and decided to order the NUMBER SIX: VEGGIE SUB. He fired off an appalled grimace that my brain interpreted as sheer terror-- Mightn't the very act of creating a meatless sandwich turn this poor man gay? He attempted to shake away his discomfort with a good spirited laugh, but his uneasy gaze refused to meet my own."A veggie sandwich?" he asked, polishing his glasses and re-examining the menu board. "Why, yep, looks like you can." He proceeded to-- very slowly, I might add, with all the enthusiasm of a slug nearing a salt mine-- dump several fists full of iceberg lettuce into an open mouth of stale bread. Finishing this, he paused, looked me up and down, and sighed. "Sheesh... I ain't made one of these for someone since, well, NEVER."We stared across the counter for a good forty seconds or so, sizing each other up. What little depth there was behind his eyes had rapidly filled with obvious contempt... _High-falutin' city slickers, violatin' my sandwich stand with your unwholesome culinary habits... _His saggy cheeks bristled over rows of chaw-stained teeth. _Just where do you get off, anyways?_For my part, I tried my damnedest to absorb this bitterness with a sugar-lipped grin. His faux-exasperation was genuinely irritating-- it's not like I was one of those twats who come in and completely re-arrange the chemical makeup of a pre-existing menu item just to suit their own tastes. I simply wanted to purchase and devour the NUMBER SIX: VEGGIE SUB in an orderly and delicious fashion... If a sandwich of this caliber was such an elemental impossibility, why the hell was it printed on the menu in the first place? As recently as five years ago, this story would have had a much different ending. I would have flipped him the bird and stormed out of gas station, or worse yet, called him a gnarled fuck and hurled a rack of Zingers at him, using his confusion to my advantage as I snatched a case of Natty Light from the cooler and wahoo-ed it back to my car... But these are more enlightened times, and I have become a more enlightened person. The switchblade remained securely in my back pocket, and I successfully bit down the urge to steal a lock of his hair and hex the living shit out of him.The stare-off finally broke, and he returned to the job at hand. Out-waited, out-willed, and out-witted, he had no choice but to fully commit to the arduous task of making a sandwich with less ingredients than he normally would have had to include. For a fleeting moment, I felt sorry for so significantly lightening his load, so I kindly suggested that he add some extra cheese and maybe a hot pepper or twelve to help balance it out. Because if there's one thing that I find more depressing than anything else, it's a broadly-drawn, small-town stereotype with little motivation to justify his existence. My compassionate nature must have gotten the best of him-- I thought I saw him smile a little as he reached for a squeeze tube of mayonnaise."No mayo," I told him, strictly observing the First Rule of Program Etiquette: MAYONNAISE IS FUCKING INEDIBLE AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. "Some yellow mustard would be nice, though."Still, he persisted, even going so far as to mimic the sound of lukewarm mayonnaise spurting from the nozzle tip. For a brief, hysterical moment, I fantasized that this might be some kind of sandwich-chef version of The Hanky Code, that this was all some kind of elaborate come-on, but that thought was rapidly eclipsed by the realization that no man who still worked at a sub stand in his mid-sixties could possess the necessary intelligence to understand such arcane symbolism, much less articulate it through a gummy tube of congealed egg whites. He finished the sandwich, wrapped it in wax paper, and tossed it off to the cashier. "It's a... "vegetarian" sandwich," he said, accenting the syllables in such a way that the word "vegetarian" could have been changed out with "bag of leper turds" and still bear the same meaning.I paid, left, climbed in the car, rode away. Victorious. As well-meaning as I often intend to be, there's always a touch of shameful pride that hits my chest whenever I trod upon the inflated egos of idiots. As ridiculous the obstacles in my life might be, I knew I could always count on the iron-clad strength of my will to win out over force in the end. Until I bit into the sandwich. Mayonnaise! I was beaten again.


Chris Tackett 14 years, 5 months ago

love these lines:

"and I successfully bit down the urge to steal a lock of his hair and hex the living shit out of him."

"Out-waited, out-willed, and out-witted, he had no choice but to fully commit to the arduous task of making a sandwich with less ingredients than he normally would have had to include."

scary_manilow 14 years, 5 months ago

That's the part that gets me the most-- It was LESS work for him than any of the other sandwiches required... So what was the big deal?

I've had good luck with hexes lately. He should be happy I didn't opt for that route.

smerdyakov 14 years, 5 months ago

Dude YOU'RE the idiot - you got the rule totally backwards. Mayonnaise is the chronic and should be partaken of liberally at every opportunity. This guy was clearly just trying to help a brother out.

TheEleventhStephanie 14 years, 5 months ago

No, SALAMI is the chronic. With or without mayo.

scary_manilow 14 years, 5 months ago

You guys should get married. The dynasty of salami-mayo offspring would be encyclopeida-worthy, to say the least.

TheEleventhStephanie 14 years, 5 months ago

What really gets my salami stiff is March Mustard Madness at Free State. It's coming right up, and I frankly think it's as good a reason for living as any other.

Aileen Dingus 14 years, 5 months ago

Mayo is gross.

When I was young there was some joke about a female orangutan and a jar of mayonnaise and the punch line had something to do with mung.

Ever since then, even though I don't remember the joke, I've been absolutely grossed out by mayo.

smerdyakov 14 years, 5 months ago

11thSteph-March Mustard Madness is undeniably the best. But mayo has yet to get its day in court. Only just now is just ONE variety on mayo-lime flavor, infiltrating via la influencia mexicana-getting its due. Can't you just savor it now? May Mayo Month at Free State, featuring delicious horseradish mayos, habanero mayos, onion mayos, raspberry mayos, MUSTARD mayos... etc etc ...100s of mayos in all. Each one worthy of your well-cripsy wedge fries.

DOTDOT 14 years, 5 months ago

Stale bread. It don't matter what you put on it.

The next level of enlightenment involves getting exactly what you want and leaving smiley happy people in your wake. Not that I'll ever reach it, but you, my young attractive friend, might stand a chance.

Dominic_Sova 14 years, 5 months ago

March Mustard Madness Made a Mustard Man of Me

Hilary Morton 14 years, 5 months ago

Rob, I love the thought of you wahoo-ing while running to your car. I did that, myself, last night!

Mustard rules. I have a sweatshirt that says POUPON U. It makes me laugh, like I did when I was 8.

Caterina Benalcazar 14 years, 5 months ago

Mayo IS indeed the proverbial "chronic." I wonder how many people in Lawrence would turn their noses up at it if it was labeled "aioli"? Present company excluded of course. I know a chef who, at one of his previous positions in this town, couldn't get customers to order "grits". Know how he solved it? Calling it polenta.

Althea Schnacke 14 years, 5 months ago

Miracle Whip is nasty, mayo is okay. Mustard is the perfect condiment.

justthefacts 14 years, 5 months ago

Ha! Great writing Rob!

Feents is correct. There are snobs going both directions - from people who want things to be overly-complicated and over-priced in order to appreciate it, to those who think anything not reeking of farm smells or burning flesh is downright unhealthy.

Facts are needed. In all things, facts help clear things up (if that is possible). And, sadly, real undisputable facts are harder and harder to come by.

The facts of food reveal that mayo is hardly anything more then some sour juice (vinegar/lemon etc), whipped oil and eggs (yolks are best) with perhaps a touch of salt & dry mustard thrown in sometimes.

Will Babbit 14 years, 5 months ago

How can anyone smack talk Miracle Whip...

Weezy_Jefferson 14 years, 5 months ago

The thing is, you don't want to piss off people who work in the food-service industry. At least in a a sub shop you can see what's going on behind the counter. When I worked at Arby's in Topeka eons ago, many a hunk of roast beef "accidentally" fell on the floor before being plopped on a sandwich and fed to a customer who was deemed unworthy of a hygenic meal. I'm just sayin', if you cause a commotion in a fast-food line and get your burger or whatnot, I'd triple check to make sure that it's REALLY mayonnaise that's being smeared on your chin...

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 14 years, 5 months ago

Because we're all a bunch of drunk procrastinating blowhards, that's why. Feel free to break from form and start the crusade ;)

Marcy McGuffie 14 years, 5 months ago

Rob, this blog is the shiznit - I can't stop laughing! Well done.

Mmm...Miracle Whip. Seriously, I'm with Will on this one...

Baby_Snakes 14 years, 5 months ago

Mayonaise is gross.... Mustardayonaise is where it is hell with mayostard!

scary_manilow 14 years, 5 months ago

Why haven't we copywritten Mustardayonaise yet?

Baby_Snakes 14 years, 5 months ago

WARNING......Mayo will expire before mustard.

lori 14 years, 5 months ago

Great blog, Rob.

As I was reading this, I was wondering if this was the 24/7 store? The fam stops there often when we make the trek to visit the grandparents. Adventures we've had there: Watching their reaction when the picky eater of our family ordered a sub that only contains sprouts (the dude went through just about every option with her: Are you sure you don't want some meat? What about some cheese? Lettuce? Tomato? Any sauce? Really, no mayo?); watching their confusion when they have to build a veggie sub on my own picky demands; and their confusion when my oldest and I ordered a veggie patty to split. Yes, we attempted to order the veggie patty. First they told us there was no such thing. So we pointed to in on their board. Then they all acted confused for several minutes and dug through their freezer. "Geez, I didn't even know we had these." as he defrosted the brick in the microwave.

Here's a tip--don't ever order the veggie patty. I suspect it was older than my daughter. I should have asked to see the box, to check the expiration date. I don't know what we were thinking; I think we were experiencing relief that some place in central Kansas offered a nonmeat option. Even when it became obvious that they didn't really mean it, and that it was probably going to taste like total crap, we didn't want to give up the dream, and pushed forward. Yes, dammit, we want the veggie patty, and we want it in a 12 inch sandwich!

We don't order the veggie patty anymore.

But the mayo, yes; I love the mayo. Give me my lettuce, cheese, tomato, bbq sauce and mayo sandwich at the 24/7 store any day. Extra mayo.

funkdog1 14 years, 4 months ago

Okay, a lettuce, cheese, tomato, bbq sauce and mayo sandwich just makes me laugh.

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