There Are Only So Many Ways to Order a Meatball Sandwich
Last week I spent five hours dealing with AT&T and then I went to the grocery store. I tried to figure out what to make for dinner, but was exhausted and felt oppressed by too many choices. Then I remembered the deli counter and its array of prepared foods, and felt something close to elation. Mad respect for the person who invented the place in the grocery store where all the work has been done for you. ‘Merica, I love you.
I staggered over. I looked at all the prepared salads in the case, all the boxes of prepared dinners below. I gazed up at the sandwich board. It was new. Weeks before it was an unremarkable sandwich board. But now it was like one of those screens at the airport that flashes new information about flights every few minutes. First it flashed the cold sandwich menu. Then it flashed the hot sandwich menu.
I didn’t even know they had hot sandwiches. I’ve shopped at this market over seventeen years and I never knew this, which sort of gave me the empty feeling because there were a limited number of ways this could have happened, none of them great. I could have misread the old, analog sandwich board for the last seventeen years, (which made me feel dumb) or there was some secret hot sandwich menu that wasn’t advertised but somehow everyone else knew about except me (which made me feel like an outsider).
But maybe the hot sandwiches were new, just like the sign? In a fit of positivity, I decided that this must be it, and asked the woman behind the counter what I thought was a simple question, “are you making hot sandwiches now?”
This kicked off a waking nightmare. In short, I have discovered that no one understands the words I speak anymore. They used to, but now they don’t. No matter how I arrange words in a sentence, I am unable to communicate simple concepts. It’s like there’s a whole new language out there that no one told me about. Just like the hot sandwiches.
“What?” she asked, looking genuinely confused. I decided that my question was strange; they probably were always making hot sandwiches so my wording caught her off guard. I tried again. “Can I have a meatball sandwich?” I asked simply. This should work, I…