The Phantom Sandwich Menace

I don’t trust new people.

I want my doctor to remain the same.  My barber to remain the same.  And the woman who makes my sandwiches at the grocery store deli to remain the same.

Which she didn’t.

It was someone new there yesterday.

Unhappy but composed, I ordered the same sandwich I always do.

“Turkey sandwich, please.”

She got out a piece of paper to write down the details.

“What kind of bread would you like that on?” she asked.

That was annoying because the regular woman already knows.

“Soft roll,” I said.

“And what would you like on it?”

“Just lettuce, tomato and mustard.”

“That’s it?” she asked.

“That’s it,” I said.

So I went to get some potato chips and when I came back the sandwich was complete and wrapped in brown paper.  She had made it very quickly and had been rather nice.

Which got me to thinking.

Maybe I judge people too quickly.  Maybe I’m too harsh.

When I got home, I opened up the sandwich to make sure she got everything right.

And there, exactly as I had asked, was the lettuce, tomato and mustard.

And nothing else.

Not even turkey.

And it was at that moment I realized just how literally she had taken my comment, “Just lettuce, tomato and mustard.”

Proving that trust in a new person carries with it its own reward:

A $6.99 mustard sandwich.

67 thoughts on “The Phantom Sandwich Menace

  1. I probably shouldn’t point out that you can make your own sandwiches – exactly the way you want them – and probably for a whole lot less money, too.

  2. The most logical solution would be to use this newfound information for your benefit. Tomorrow, order a $.50 piece of bread with tomato, lettuce, turkey, and mustard on it.


    Now, call the deli and tell them what happened and if they think she got it right…QUIT GOING THERE !

  4. For a second my heart skipped a beat thinking you were a vegetarian. We veggies order that sandwich all the time and they never get it right. In our case, they insist on meat. Kudo’s to your deli lady!

  5. I hate when that happens. You would never think that she could get it THAT wrong! Check and double check… then send the duck to get the right sandwich.

  6. This is a sad, sad essay on the state of young people’s education, these days. However, I must say that there is a little bit of fault on your side in all of this. But let’s not address that in this comment because that would take away the humor in it all.

    This reminds me of the time I went to Burger King and ordered a “Bacon Double Cheeseburger”. I was told that they don’t sell “Bacon Double Cheeseburgers” but I could order a “Double Cheeseburger” and they could put bacon on it. I replied with, “I guess that will have to do, then.”

  7. Had that happen to me once. Ordered a BLT with lettuce & tomato, no mayo, went to go get it, brought it back to work. It had no bacon. WTF??? So I went back, the lady justified herself by saying that I had ordered it that way and if I wanted bacon I should have asked for bacon. To which I said “What the hell do you think the B in BLT stands for?” Cheezits Crisp, some people!

  8. What a moron! What happened to the original request of “TURKEY SANDWICH PLEASE?” I have to deal with stupid people at my job all day, but I think she takes the cake…

  9. And yet, I think this is the universe/karma paying you back for all those times you’ve messed with the grocery store cashier…

  10. I once ordered a taco at Taco Bell with just cheese on it. And that’s what I got. A taco shell with shredded cheese, no meat.

  11. Beth Cravens – was it necessary to say “with lettuce and tomato” after you said “BLT”? What the hell do you think the LT in BLT stands for?

  12. funny story.
    if that were to happen to me, i would’ve ate my sandwhich with a smile…
    people are funny.
    not enough communication in the world..
    texting, e-mailing, blogging… so when people finally have to socialize as a human being and not as a robot behind a keyboard, it’s a little pressuring for them.

  13. i bet if you would’ve texted your order to her, it would be a perfect sandwhich.
    you should try it..
    and if it works………….sad..

  14. This does sound utterly ridiculous, but I’ve actually seen people order sandwiches like this before. There was a fellow in front of me at Wendy’s once whose usual order was a bacon cheeseburger with no cheese or burger–basically ordering a BLT but in terms Wendy’s staff would understand.

    I do think that she might’ve taken your request a bit literally (but she was new on the job, after all), but customer-service people get all kinds of ridiculous requests. She might’ve thought you wanted a vegetable sandwich that wasn’t on the menu, and were just picking up on turkey because it was cheapest. Admittedly, she probably should’ve been more specific in confirming what she thought was a crazy order, but she did confirm it. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s probably less due to her being stupid than her having had past customers with unusual orders.

  15. I once ordered “a bacon cheeseburger, mayo and pickle only, please.” And got a bacon cheeseburger with mayo and pickle, minus the bacon and cheese. I went inside and asked for the manager. I said, “If you were making my sandwich and I asked for a bacon cheeseburger with mayo and pickle only, how would you make that?” She looked at me quizzically. I said, “I promise, this isn’t a trick question. How would you make that?” She said, “Um… I’m put a patty on the bun, mayo and pickle on the bun, cheese and bacon on the patty. Wrap it, then serve it,” still quizzical. “But you’d put bacon and cheese on it, right?” “Uh… yeah?” “Okay… then you might want to retrain someone on the line cause when I order a bacon cheeseburger, I usually expect the bacon and cheese to be on there, too.” I showed her my receipt and what I got. She looked at it and then had this, “What ignorant fark…?!” look on her face, apologized and gave me enough coupons for free meals that lasted several months.

    That was six years ago and to this day, when I order a bacon cheeseburger, I emphasize that I do want the bacon and cheese. People look at me strange, but I don’t goof around when it comes to my bacon cheeseburgers.

  16. Stupid people do suck.

    I always check the food before leaving the deli, or before leaving the parking lot of a drive-thru, in-case I need to take it back (I ask for no mayo, and routinely get it anyway).

    You should call the deli & ask for the manager & explain the situation. I’m sure they’ll do right by you, what with you being a bigshot & all.

  17. Wow! She was just plain stupid because you started by saying you wanted a turkey sandwich. Did she think you were re-enacting a Jack Nicholson movie scene? Whew!

  18. Last weekend I ordered a double cheeseburger with no bread at McDonalds. I do this all the time, since I can’t eat gluten. When my order came, I opened the box to find 2 pieces of cheese with onions, pickles & mustard between them. All on a lovely bed of lettuce. I burst out laughing, and then took the sandwich back. People these days…

  19. My husband once ordered a cheeseburger at Burger King and said he wanted it plain (no condiments or pickles). Guess what he got. A bun with a slice of cheese!

    Now I’m paranoid and scarred for life that I, too, will order a plain burger (or a turkey sammich like you) and come home with an abomination.

  20. Once went over to my parents’ place to set up their computer while they were out to dinner. They said they’d bring me home a sandwich. They had ordered theirs, then asked the waitress for a meatball with cheese to go. She returned with their sandwiches and a tin containing one meatball, with cheese.

  21. 6.99? Why not go to Subway? That way when they screw up, it costs you less.

  22. Next time, give her step-by-step instructions, and tell her how to cut it, too. Complain if she puts the meat on crooked, or if she does it in a different order.

    Just don’t walk away if you try this; otherwise, they spit in your food.

  23. This is why I’ve come to specify what I do NOT want on my sandwich whenever possible.

    That doesn’t help when you order a plain burger and they somehow think “plain” means “with all the standard condiments.”

  24. I once ordered a turkey sub at Arby’s and they forgot the turkey.

    Lettuce, tomato and mayo is not ever qualified to be a sandwich.

  25. Strange folks can be found on both sides of the counter.
    I was behind a guy at a cafeteria one day who ordered a chicken patty sandwich but he added, “hold the lettuce, hold the mayo, hold the tomato, and hold the bun.”
    The guy behind the the counter said, “So… you just want a chicken patty?”
    The guy in front of me said, “no, I want a chicken patty sandwich. Hold the lettuce, hold the mayo, hold the tomato, and hold the bun.”

  26. you guys are mean. Too bad you don’t expected as much from your government as you do from the deli lady.

  27. I once ordered a “cheeseburger, plain” from In-n-Out. I got it without cheese. I love that I paid an extra 20 cents to get it without the cheese too!

  28. Trying to order a plain double hamburger at McDonald’s is like trying to pull a sliver out of an ant’s ass with a boxing glove. Both are frickin’ impossible.

  29. Ah ah ah!!!

    As Spaceman said: do your own sandwiches. It will cost you less AND you will be sure that will be turkey in it!!!

    Maybe the Crocs were with you in the grocery store… Who knows…

    Turkey is gud. Turkey is fud.

  30. Ok, what part of TURKEY SANDWICH does this woman not get? Obviously you want turkey on it, otherwise you’d have ordered a sandwich. She’s asking what topping, bread, and condiments you want on a turkey sandwich, not what kind of a sandwich you want.

  31. Every Friday morning I stop at my local Dunkin Donuts, and every Friday Morning I order a Lg Iced Coffee (with vanilla, cream, and sugar), and a crossaint with bacon, sausage, and cheese (no egg).

    As long as I go in to the counter everything is fine.

    If I go through the drive thru, without fail, I have to go inside and have them remake my sandwich without the egg.

    What bothers me is that the same lady takes my order whether I go in or if I use the drive thru, and she recognizes me. It’s been nearly 3 months and the pattern continues, even this morning.

  32. Wendys has Forgot to put the hamburger patty on my friggen cheeseburger. Burgerking constantly “forgot” to put bacon on a bacon cheese burger. I have ordered chicken wings, all drumettes and got all flappers, which I wont eat. And by the way, if I owned a gun I probably would have gone back and shot the cook, I was that pissed off.

  33. Could be worse. My sandwich person is always on the phone when I try to order, and insists I use wonder bread and miracle whip, despite my pleas for sourdough and mayonnaise! I should stop going to that diner…

  34. Come on guys. There is no need to call her stupid. Yes she made a silly mistake, so what. She was probably taking many orders that day and was new to the job.

  35. If it goes to court, she wins. Chew on that crap sandwich, Mr. former lawyer.

  36. Beth Cravens- You asked for a BLT with lettuce & tomato. I think the redundancy of that order is what threw her off, leading her to believe you didn’t want the bacon. Otherwise, you would have ordered a BLT, like a normal person. Just BLT. The L & the T stand for Lettuce & Tomato, as David pointed out to you already. It’s like ordering an omelet with eggs.

  37. @ Shadeboy- nobody said it was a young person. who knows? could be some old lady getting senile?

  38. What are you whining about? This is how I always order my sandwiches — the bread just adds calories, you know.

  39. I am plagued by a similar curse: The Great Cheez Conspiracy. These wily conspirators infiltrate fast-food establishments everywhere and blanket the burgers of unsuspecting drive-thru customers with a noxious faux cheese. Their call to arms is “NO cheese, please!” As soon as they hear those words, they SLAP a waxy orange square on your burger, sausage and egg biscuit, “Filet O’ Faux Fish” or other warm sandwich, wrap it, hold it under the heat lamp to guarantee the cheese/meat/bread meld and hurl it out the window at you. Unless you inspect immediately, by the time you know you’ve been “Cheeezed” it’s too late…

  40. Lol..just be thankful that you didn’t say something that she would’ve taken literally..

  41. Stephan,
    This is a gentle reminder that TURKEYS are kind and passionate birds capable of feeling pain and emotions as much as people. GOD BLESS YOU.


  42. well , she was literally correct . You are a turkey and it was your sandwich.
    But I do agree, I hate going to the hardware franchise,huge impersonal dross.
    I want the strange old man in the apron with a 2B pencil to come back.

  43. You’ve finally met your match at Safeway-she asked you what you wanted, you told her, and you got exactly what she told you…are you sure she wasn’t working as a checker the last time you came through? Personally, I’d look forward to seeing her again-she might actually provide a few minutes of entertainment in the middle of a dreary day…

  44. I used to work deli in a Wawa, an East Coast convenience chain, and one night we ran out of most of our rolls. A guy came in and asked for a Classic (10-incher). “Sorry, sir, we have no Classics, we have no Juniors (2-inchers), we have no Kaisers, and we have no Shortis (6-inchers) except for whole-wheat.” “I don’t like whole-wheat. Gimme a regular Shorti.” “Sorry, sir, we have no Shortis except whole-wheat.” “I don’t like whole-wheat. Gimme a couple Juniors.” “Sorry, sir, we have no Juniors, we have no Kaisers, we have no Classics, we have no Shortis except whole-wheat.” “I don’t…” “I know, sir, you don’t like whole-wheat, but it’s the only roll we have.” “OK, I’ll have it on a Kaiser.” “Sir, we have no Kaisers, we have no Classics, we have no Juniors, and we have no Shortis except for the kind you don’t like.” “How do YOU know what I don’t like?” “Lemme guess–you don’t like whole-wheat.”

  45. @stephan,
    I imagine by now you are regretting the phantom sadwich post. everyone has a f’in sandwich story and thinks your blog is their blog. I come read Pastis, not Pastis wannabes!

  46. Quite a similar situation happened to me, asked for a burgen with just meat and cheese. . . and came back with just meat and cheese. . . no bun.

  47. hey the same thing happened to me just yesterday at the company cafe. There was a new girl behind the sandwich bar.

    I asked for a roast-beef sandwich with “just lettuce, tomato and mustard, and a pickle on the side.” (there was even a sample behind the glass which I pointed to as I ordered – as in “I want one like that..”).

    I noticed as I stood in line to pay for it. So I went back and she added… *two* slices of RB to it – one on each half. A $6 sub with two slices of RB! I figured she was new – so I won’t be going back until she isn’t quite so new. Of course there wasn’t anyone to mentor her. She was, if you will, cast to the wolves by herself.

  48. This has probably happened to most of us, myself included. My son called and asked me stop at McZeebas (opps-I meant McDonalds-Rat would not have gotten it wrong!)wanting me to pick up 2 double hamburgers with no pickles, onions or ketchup-just plain hamburgers and bun. When I went to the drive thru (my mistake), I had to repeat my order countless times. Finally I said “A hamburger and bun nothing else”. He repeated what I told him. I paid, drove home (20 minutes to go 4 miles) gave my son the bag who promptly opened it and said “ITS TWO BUNS-NOTHING ELSE. Go back and get it right. I told him to take his own car and go back up there. Well when he went in the kid showed him the receipt “Two Plain Hamburger Rolls-nothing else”. I guess thats what I get for going to a drive thru and not checking the order before I left. They fixed it for him and through in some fries-probably did not cover the price of the gas to get there.

  49. I have to admit, I’m the new girl at a grocery store deli (not this one, because I’d never write down an order since our customers stand there while I make their sub) and I once nearly forgot to put the turkey on a turkey sub. But the customer was standing there and reminded me. I had gotten too caught up in making sure they gave me their mayonnaise/mustard preferences BEFORE the veggies (seriously, otherwise the sandwich is a mess, but nobody orders it that way).

  50. You know it’s bad when people take you orders that literally. I went to McDonald’s once and ordered a cheeseburger with just cheese to find when I got home a piece of cheese on a hamburger bun, not meat at all. Sometimes people are just morons.

  51. Imagine what her day was like. New job, (who knows if she actually has any sandwich-making experience outside of the home), working hard trying to impress both the new customers AND her boss, and then, right during the middle of the lunch hour rush, a disheveled, homeless-looking man orders a sans-turkey, tukey sandwich. Talk about weird, talk about spooky, who but a complete lunatic orders a no-meat, meat sandwich. You probably bamboozled her for at least a good 7, maybe even 10 seconds.

    But, at least you did do your good duty for the day–you gave her a bedtime story to tell her children. A story so scary, so terrifying, so utterly beyond comprehension, the kids will beg for it every night.


  52. Nobody listens anymore, especially not in the service industry. They just want you to be easy to deal with, then shut up and go away. If you walk into the milk store, for example, where they sell nothing but gallon jugs of whole milk, and you say, “I would like to buy a gallon of milk,” they will say, “What?” Good golly, where did I lose you? Or better yet, you say, “I would like to . . . ” and they say, “What?” A lot of people are conditioned to not even hear the first part of what you are saying, but to say “What?” automatically and make you repeat it. But by all means, if you can help it, *always* watch them make the sandwich.

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