What I Do While Waiting for My Tuna Sandwich

I always go to the same grocery store and get the same tuna sandwich every day for lunch.  Because it takes a few minutes for the deli person to make the sandwich, I’m always looking around for something to do.  Lucky for me, I have found it.  It is the grocery store’s suggestion box.

Each week, I drop at least one note in the box, and each one of them is from a very tiny person who cannot reach the shelves.  The note demands equal access to all the shelves, and each one is angrier than the last, as the store never changes the height of its shelves.

Sometimes I make up stories, like the one about the fictional store employee who refused to lower the height of the shelves, telling me that the store’s policy was “anti-midget.”  I’ve asked for stools.  I’ve asked for ladders.   And I lace all of the notes with profanity.

I’m not sure why I do it.  Or why I stick to that one character.  I think it’s the challenge of developing a literary character only through notes placed in a grocery store’s suggestion box.  Or maybe it’s just my fascination with how the character changes over time.  He seems to get angrier.  And shorter.  In the latest note, he could not reach the bottom shelf, which I believe would make him under six inches tall.   He is now the height of Tinkerbell.

Sometimes I feel for the poor guy who has to open the suggestion box each month.

But hey, if they wanted it to stop, they could always make the sandwiches faster.

55 thoughts on “What I Do While Waiting for My Tuna Sandwich

  1. Oh, that is just cruel(yet cool)! I wonder if someday the guy that has to read all those things realizes that the tiny person that complains about the shelves is just a fictitious character… oh wait, it’s not that hard to figure out…

    Ok, maybe he collects them. I can picture a middle aged bald guy making a scrapbook with all those notes…

    And maybe someday, he’ll publish them…

    Sorry, got carried away

  2. but, but, if the little dude can’t reach the bottom shelves in the store…how does he get up there to put the notes into the suggestion box? Tell them he wants a pair of industrial strength moon shoes so he can bounce up to the shelves 🙂

  3. Classic! I’m sure that these notes are the highlight of the Suggestion Box Reader’s day. They scan the aisles every day, looking for a midget and are quite perturbed when they never see one. This, I’m sure, only adds to the mystery. Messing with people’s heads … good times, good times. Very Rat of you.

  4. Not that I don’t believe you, but how high is the suggestion box?

    Do let us know if a little ladder shows up for Tinkerboy!

  5. A perfect example of why the line between genius and insanity is SOOO thin . . . and Mr. Pastis, you are most definitely a genius.

  6. Classic. This needs to live on in a PBS series. Perhaps this could be what finally inspires violence from Pig’s vikings?

  7. This story is hilarious! Do you eagerly anticipate which day you will drop your note with your lastest tirade?

  8. That’s a great idea! Maybe I should start doing that. But how does your six-inch-tall person reach the suggestion box? Does he fly? Does he have wings? Does the power of happiness float him up toward the suggestion box?

  9. The great mystery here is how this vertically-challenged character can reach the Suggession Box…

  10. That’s fantastic. Do you ever leave contact information so the store could meet some demands or something? I love it.

  11. I’m sure this was a delightful post – but unfortunately it was posted too high on your blog page for me to read effectively. Please do me the service of lowering your posts to fifteen degrees below eye-level. My slanted-vision syndrome is replete with woes – I’ve never enjoyed a headline, I’m an authority on women’s chests and have been slapped repeatedly.

    Please don’t add to my sorrow by continuing to post so high.

    And add some barbecue to the menu, please.

  12. This is so funny, I am laughing right now. However, this is a very serious matter. I am 5′ tall and I can never reach the top shelf. I resort to scaling the lower shelves at times. I knock stuff over and routinely risk my life. Not to mention bent lower shelves. So….I think you should continue your quest, if only for my sake. Someday the entire unit might topple on me and kill me. The autopsy will say..killed by Rague to the head.

  13. This is hilarious. Twisted, but hilarious. It is nice to know that there exists a continuity of behavior from comic strip to real life.

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  14. I’ve worked in a store like this: you can’t even imagine how many our very dear customers did this same thing (endless complaining or just writing “fun” stuff…) and think they are so funny and clever. Each one probably imagines that we collected them and made a scrapbook, poor bastards.

  15. I love it. I imagine the store employees hiding around corners trying the spot this ever-shrinking person. Possibly ever booby-trapping the suggestion box. I think you should leave a small ladder next to it one of these days.

  16. I like to fill out forms that want information so you can get a discount with bizzare information. I figure the poor person who has to put this information in mailing and email lists should have some fun. Notmy R. Ealname

  17. I love a creative mind at work..it is a shame that the educational system feels a need to medicate kids that could one day have so much to share. I love watching my grandson at play, I bet he will one day be thinking of clever little ways to get back at society in a funny way..

  18. I’m told that tuna fish is full of mercury, is that what makes some people genius? Maybe your little leprechaun dude should move in next door to rat…they’d love eachother🙂

  19. Next step: narrative of harrowing journey to and through store.

    “I have to tell you, there are days when I don’t know if it’s even worth it to come here. We all need to eat, but at what cost?

    Every day, I wake up and look at the wind forecast. If it’s ok, I head out to the store. I tried fighting it once, but 25mph was just too much and I ended up pinned to a dumpster for a few hours until the gusts subsided. Had to burn the clothes I was wearing, too.

    You ever seen that Japanese game show where the contestant has to try to dive through a small hole in a wall that’s coming at them? Well, that’s what getting in that front door is like. I have to wait for someone big enough to trip the sensor, then try to pelt through before I get crushed like an ill-fated mouse.

    I once managed to get a floor plan of the store, which helped immensely. Before that, it was like wandering into New York City and hoping you’d just run into the house of the person you were there to visit. Still feels like the jungle, though… miles of corridor bereft of feelings of safety and accessibility.

    My shopping list is continually redefined by whatever manufacturer has pissed off the market chain that week, earning themselves a spot on the lower shelves. There are some trends, and I’ve managed to get a few of the things I like down low on a consistent basis by virtue of “angry letters” by “manufacturer’s sales reps” to certain store managers in which I berate their personal hygeine and choice of hairstyle.

    What is it with you people, anyway? I have to continually rebuild the tools I make out of what I find lying around (plastic shopping cart bumpers, loose twist-ties from the granola section… the words “cleanup on aisle x” send me into a utility-driven sprint) just to be able to get the junk you put on the lowest shelf. Your cleaning staff must collectively have an anal-retentive quotient that would make a clean-room manager weep.

    Anyway, after I get the things I want onto my homemade sled (flattened pasta boxes, I’m not telling you where in the store I hide it but I’m not proud of it), I get to the register and then the fun really starts.

    Over the years, I’ve carved a series of hand- and footholds into Aisle 5’s self-checkout, but it’s still like staring down Everest on a weekly basis. I could run a triathlon and not get winded after fighting that stupid conveyor belt, too… I think my leg muscles have started growing muscles of their own for support.

    Ever heard the term “couldn’t fight your way out of a paper bag”? Yeah, I used to be able to… thanks for switching to plastic-only, guys. Now, if I accidentally get “bagged”, it takes half an hour plus to get out and you idiots usually put my “abandoned” stuff back on the shelves.

    On the rare occasion that I do get everything all set and paid for (thank God for that new “fast pay” thing the credit cards have with the sensor), I have to sling my stuff underneath the carriage of someone in another line checking out and climb on. My luck, it usually turns out they’re the idiot that waited 40 min for a parking spot close to the entrance. At least I don’t have to try to tangle with that homicidal door again.

    Would it *kill* you to make a couple of accommodations for people like me? Maybe a button on the frame of the door with a time delay so I don’t feel like I have to have my affairs in order before I rush it? Maybe a small forklift so that I can try the “premium” brands for once (by the way, your store-brand oatmeal SUCKS)? I really don’t think this is too much to ask, and besides which, the postage for my “angry letters” is really starting to eat into my budget. Not that I don’t like your hairstyle, it looks nice on you. Really.”

  20. I had no idea you had a blog! That makes a triumverate of blogs for my favorite newspaper strips – F Minus, Dilbert, and Pearls.
    P.S. Mr. Pastis, since I’m Jewish, and I know you’re not Jewish, I was surprised to see Yiddish jokes. But the surprise just made it even funnier! I have to show these strips to my mom.

  21. I really hope we’ll see this griping midget in a future strip. Maybe on one of his trips to the complaint department, he’ll accidentally get squished by Ziggy.

  22. Oh Pastis, you have a Dockers shoe box, a microwave, and eat tuna sandwiches..!!?? This goes against all superhuman powers I thought your possessed. *sigh

  23. That’s some funny sh*t right there!

    Some of the funniest stuff is when you leave something behind and just imagine the reaction.

  24. Savannah beat me too it … Steph, I think that is the Angry Bob character taking over your mind, if you haven’t lost it already. *laffin*

  25. I see the potential for a new “Angry Bob” story: Angry Bob reads that fresh fruit makes you happy: Bob goes to store: Asks elderly lady in grocery scooter where the melons are: lady is startled, runs into grocery shelves: shelves of prunes fall on Angry Bob, Bob dies while Pastis drops a note in the suggestion box, stating that due to the shelves being on the floor, he still can’t reach the top shelf and could the store manager do something about it. Very warped story, but as Scott Adams once said; “any joke with the word “prunes” in it is automatically funny”.

  26. Perhaps one day, a store employee will figure out what’s going on. He’ll give you the stool you requested: a human turd in a box, wrapped up with a pretty pink ribbon.

  27. Stephan tuna sandwiches give you gas, believe me! Try the club sandwich today it might be easier on your stomach. They’re prepackaged on aisle 4, so you won’t have to wait. Censorship test 2, angry Bob/Stephan or Web administrator (mental midget). Yes, I realize that’s politically incorrect, but it is in keeping with the spirit of the post.

  28. Wow Stephan, you might want to get some more vegetables on your tuna sandwich because it sounds like you have a lack of fiber that is making you angry and insane. (At least your alter ego is).

    Genius or crazy? The debate goes on. Love your strip!

  29. Steph, now that you have our attention, when do we get our next installment of A Day in the Life of Pastis or Pastis Psychotic Pranks? *snicker*

  30. Funny blog dude, happy to see that funny mind that makes me crack up every day I find a reason to read a newspaper (peer pressure usually) is sharing his personal thoughts with the world.

  31. Great to see the mind isn’t wandering these days.

    If you want to see this type of thing taken to a new art-form try The Timewasters Letters by Robin Cooper, (2 volumes so far) of the most incredible pointless communications with organisations and public bodies.

  32. Might as go all the way….ask for a special mini-me parking space right next to the handicapped space…and little carts. And since you haven’t been able to reach those giant urinals….

  33. My boss laments on the fact the suggestion box is always empty. I try to help out but my thoughts on salary reduction and cross training at the strip club never get any airtime, maybe the midget might get more attention with the diversity angle… Thanks for the great idea!

  34. I always get the little old ladies that are 4’9″ asking me to get stuff from the top shelf. (I’m 5’10 and 6’1″ with heels). It annoys the heck out of me minding my own business, having to stop what I am doing and get the product from the top shelf, do I look like I work there???? No! So, please LOWER the shelves! LOL 🙂

  35. Most likely your notes are posted on someone’s office wall and laughed at on occasion. More than likely they look forward to your letters.

    Just a hunch, i’ve had a lot of customer service jobs that’s what happens. I still have a note from some stupid woman from over 10 years ago on my office wall.

  36. I laughed ’til I cried over this post and the one after it. I’ve done the same thing over PBS, mostly over Rat. Mr. Pastis, you are the author of the Current Favorite Comic at our house. Comics are kind of like cats–you can’t ever really replace them when they die (thinking of Calvin and Hobbes here), but you can love the next one just as much. If newspapers go under, there are a couple of things you can do: 1) write your own humor books (illustrated by you, of course) or 2) have a subscription Web site. I’d subscribe.

  37. Allow me to place a recommendation in your own box: If there’s any chance that the deli staff know that it is you who is dropping those notes, then better don’t eat your sandwich. Unless you like loogies.

  38. Oh my god! I have no thoughts and don’t know what to say other than this post made me laugh till I cried and I literally laughed myself to sleep.

    Thank you Stephen. I will try this next time I go to the grocery store!

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