July 22, 2010

who knew a sandwich could cause an epiphany?

I recently went to lunch with a friend who, upon hearing my order, turned to me, aghast: "You're kidding, right? Wow, that is so boring."

The boring order? A plain turkey sandwich.
Just turkey and bread. Yep. That's it. 

It's something I've been incredibly self-conscious about my entire life, this tendency toward the--let's call it plain. (Don't worry, though, my sandwich order is actually more a symptom of hating condiments than it is of being irrationally picky about all foods.)

do enjoy avocado on a turkey sandwich. Or cranberry sauce. So if a place offers them, I get crazy, ordering turkey and avocado or cranberry. All my other meals, too, most definitely include more than two ingredients--but my plain-by-anyone's-standards Subway/Quizno's order in particular has always made me feel, well... plain.

But then I went to Potbelly yesterday--a popular sandwich chain in Chicago--and after giving my order to the boy behind the counter, I winced and waited for the inevitable shock-and-awe aftermath. What?! I imagined him saying, like everyone else who'd ever taken my sandwich order. That's it? No cheese? Really? 

I waited. And waited. But he said nothing--which, it turns out, after years and years of everyone saying something, made me incredibly uncomfortable. So I spoke up instead, stating the inevitable for him: yeah I know, I said. It's boring

And then he shook his head. Smiled. Not boring, he said. Simple. 

There, standing behind the tall wooden counter in the crowded sandwich shop with a little girl whining to her mother behind me and a crew of cocky teenage boys punching each other ahead of me, I experienced an aha moment of epic proportions.

I am not plain.
I am not even boring.
I just appreciate simplicity.

And just like that, my sandwich order--once a source of limitless embarrassment--became a mere testament to my undemanding, cheese-free, I-love-all-things-classic-and-straightforward-yes-even-my-sandwich simplicity. 

Needless to say, this boy received a generous tip.
(Well, by sandwich shop standards anyway.)

(Photo: gabrielle kai)


Sara said... [Reply to comment]

Isn't he the sweetest!! Aw. I love moments like that.

Simple and easy to please, the best combination there could ever be; you're always happy!

Lillian Chang said... [Reply to comment]

Aww, what a lovely story :)
Sometimes people say just the perfect thing that fits just in the right place. I'm like this too - I ALWAYS eat hot dogs plain, I even eat my french fries plain (that's right- no ketchup!). But, like you, I appreciate simplicity. :)

LRW said... [Reply to comment]

Simple story, with a huge meaning. I think sometimes we listen to others way too much...especially when they have an opinion about who we are. Sometimes, I think people want to make things more complicated than they are!

~Abby~ said... [Reply to comment]

LOL opposite here; I always have to have some form of condiment on my foods! (fries-ketchup, nuggets-ranch...etc...) But other than that everything I order is plain as well. :/

Nice post! :)

Stephanie said... [Reply to comment]

great story! i am the exact same way. in fact i went to panera last weekend and ordered a completely plain turkey sandwich too. my husband bugs me about it, but i love it! i sometimes order chicken ceasar wraps with no lettuce, and i always get a reaction similiar to what you get. funny. :)

3 Letters Simple "Ari" said... [Reply to comment]

I agree with all of you guys! ... having simplicity as part of our lifes is HUGE!!! .. And in the long run, having a simple life can bring you more happiness than you can imagine. Most people think that money is everything and if you close your eyes and see what's really important you'll find that the little simple things is what makes your world turn up side down... IN THE GOOD WAY THAT IS ... :D like a plain turkey sandwich! Love Send Ari

PhotoPuddle said... [Reply to comment]

That's a really sweet story. And so true.