>>> Fringe Benefits
By staff writer J.M. Lucci
March 17, 2008

From the Prophet Jamal’s Letter to the Sixth and Broad McDonald’s Restaurant Manager, Paragraph 3, Line 2:

“—and I know how much you love sweet iced tea, so I pissed in the tea container after I picked up my paycheck. You know, to sweeten it.”

On my last day of work at Subway in the summer of 2003, I told my manager I never wanted to come back. Then, I handed him my uniform. It was a ceremonial schism—one between me and a work environment that had taxed my spirit for almost two years of my high school career. I swore I would never return to the food services industry.

Fast forward to December 2007: I am standing in front of the same manager (good job security, I suppose), a frown on my face, asking for immediate work. He looks at me, smirks, and tells me he’ll put me on the schedule for next week. The green-and-black uniform, symbolic shackles of corporate conformity, is handed to me with unfettered apathy.

My liberal arts education afforded me the luxury to study the Kübler-Ross model—better known as the “Five Stages of Grief”—and finally finding an ideal subject to apply it toward is… satisfying. Coming back into the employ of the Diabolical Sandwich Barons forced me to undergo emotional changes nearly identical with that of the Five Stages—but instead of loss, I dealt with conformity issues. Now that I’ve finally gone through all five stages, I’ve chronicled the main points of interest for your reading pleasure.

“Stop talking to me; just let me make your sandwich so you can get the hell out!”

Day 1 – Denial

This isn’t happening. I can’t be working in this hellhole again. I swore it off. Never again, I said. All of this is just a bad dream…a really long, really painful dream full of strangers and sandwiches. It’s fake, haha, yeah—fake. My friends are going to come into the store soon and tell me it’s just a big joke; all of this was just set up to fool me, the real job is waiting for me around the corner. Yeah…that’s it. Just a practical joke. Heh, we’ll all have a laugh about this tomorrow—you’ll see.

Day 2 – Anger

Fuck! Another customer?! Is the fucking circus in town? Are sandwiches suddenly the vogue thing to eat? I can’t believe this shit—every time someone leaves, another one enters. They’re just all waiting outside, screwing with me. Yeah, that has to be it. I mean, who the fuck likes Subway? This vile crap they call “food” makes me want to puke all over the display case.

Oilvinegarsaltpepperoregano??!! Argh! Stop saying that! It’s not one word, goddammit! Sound it out, you fucking prick!

Extra cheese?! I’ll give you fucking extra cheese! Wait, now you don’t want it because it costs an extra twenty cents?! Are you shitting me? I’ll pay for it myself if it’s that big of a deal. No? Fine, now I gotta dig around this goddamn garden of a sandwich and pull off the cheese! Fuck it; just take the damn cheese, free of charge. I’m not remaking your sandwich for the third time because it doesn’t meet your housewife standards. When was the last time you even made a sandwich, bitch?

Soup of the day? Read the fucking sign right the fuck in front of your eyes! In fact, read all the fucking signs before you open your piehole again! No more questions! Stop talking to me; just let me make your sandwich so you can get the hell out!

C’mon, just pay and leave! Screw me? Screw you! I’m going to follow you out of the store, jump on your car’s hood, and break your fucking windshield with my fucking fist!

Day 39 – Bargaining

Okay, look. I’ll cover your shift today, but you have to promise you’ll cover one of mine if I need that night off or something. If I can just make it through this nightmare shift, I’ll be free and clear, right? Thirty hours a week isn’t that bad, I should be able to handle it.

Please, please, let that be my recruiter with my job. I’ll sign up for any job—anything has to be better than this fluorescent hell. Just get me out of here.

Day 57 – Depression

I hate myself for ever agreeing to work here again. What was I thinking? I’d slit my wrists but these damn cutting knives are too dull. I’ll just shove this squeeze bottle full of low-fat mayonnaise to my lips and drink myself into a cholesterol-addled stupor.

I’m gonna lock myself in the walk-in freezer and pray to the Sandwich Gods that hypothermia eventually dulls the anguish of recalling the countless hours lost slaving away to the whims of “the customer.” Leave me alone to cry. No, I don’t want to help you clean the bathrooms. Just hand me the mayo and close the freezer door.

Day 92 – Acceptance

Hi, welcome to Subway. What can I get for you today?