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Monday, June 2, 2008

Mushroom cheesesteak, hold the hatred

I think that Uncle Sam's Subs is one of the finest sandwich establishments we have here in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh, but the location in Oakland today was... weird. Depressing, even.

When I came through the door and took a look around, I suddenly felt as though I had just walked into the cafeteria at Buchenwald. Other than the girl at the counter asking what I wanted (and then angrily crossing it out when I said the order was to go), none of the four people behind the counter said a word. Not to me, not to each other. Not a word. They sort of just milled about, doing their jobs, looking impossibly downtrodden. Their faces were blotchy and red, eyes ringed and bloodshot. The one wrapping my sandwich sort of half-heartedly glared in my direction as he put it in the bag, but I don't know if he even tried it, because it certainly wasn't intimidating, it just made me want to give him a hug and tell him everything would be okay. Even the guy leaving his shift solemnly plodded out the door with his head down, silent. It looked like they had all just spent the last hour crying in the back room, which I guess is a possibility, so maybe I shouldn't make fun. Maybe their manager had gotten his face caught in the meat slicer and died there in front of them, bled to death over the sauteed mushrooms. But probably not.

I'm sure it was just the heat that was getting to them. And the grease. You could play hockey on the floors of the Oakland Uncle Sam's in your sneakers. But I worked at a Pizza Hut for a year and a half back in high school and it got pretty fucking hot and greasy in there too, but we didn't go moping around like spousal abuse victims all day. We just went outside and got high and smashed the shit out of those long-ass flourescent lightbulbs. Well, I didn't get high, but everyone else smoked enough weed to get me high by association. Instead of getting baked, I had the distinction of being the only person at any Pizza Hut (to my knowledge, at least) to clearly spell out "FUCK YOU" in green peppers on a pizza and send it out for delivery. But I didn't do it out of hatred for the world, I did it because it was funny. I don't even know who the pizza was sent to, but we never got a complaint about it, so whoever received it must have thought it was pretty funny too.

But those four poor souls today at Uncle Sam's, they didn't think much of anything was funny. Those four hopeless beings in their matching Uncle Sam's t-shirts with the words "SMILES SERVED DAILY - WHILE SUPPLIES LAST" in big, bold letters across the back. Maybe they were just waiting for a new shipment? I hope they get them soon. I mean, honestly, they're getting paid to make sandwiches, so they least they can do is not visibly resent me for coming in and ordering one. That, or find a new line of work. Maybe as IRS agents. I don't even think they're allowed to smile.

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