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Zur Originalfassung: »Ein Sandwich, bitte«

February 15, 2006

Stefan Schrahe

Translated from the German by Christa Hanefeld

A Sandwich, please

Although the film only starts in an hour there is no use going home before. A meal in a restaurant will take too long, so let's have fast food. It's easy to decide where. In front of the main station I notice the recently opened branch of a chain I have only known from hearsay so far. And the sign saying »Delicious Fresh Sandwiches« exactly meets my needs. Considering fast food places it doesn't take me long what to choose. I hate having to choose and to decide. Most of the time I take a simple Frankfurter and a coke. Breakfast buffets, too, are a nightmare for me. If I have to decide on such serious things as taking red sausages to scrambled eggs or better bacon crisps my day is already spoiled.

Even in a subway branch I don't want any conflicts. So I order in a determined voice, »one sandwich,please.« Of course I have noticed that I have a choice and worked out an answer to the possible question of Cheese or Ham. Actually nothing should go wrong.
Actually. The friendly assistant behind the counter smiles at me and catches me by surprise with a full choice of »White, Wheat, Honey Oat, Parmesan Oregano or Whole Grain?«
For a moment I am confused. »Is this really important?« »But it's up to you which kind you want«, the assistant insists, still smiling.
What can I do? Ask her if she translates »Honey Oat« or explains the different kinds of bread? Why isn't there one standard type to deviate from, but only if you really want to.
After considering briefly I decide on »Whole Grain«, which I know, not »Honey Oat«. The assistant nods contently. »And which Sub?«
»A sandwich, no Sub.« I turn my head briefly. A girl behind me bursts a chewing gum bubble.
The voice behind the counter purrs, »you have to tell me which Sub Sandwich, Italian BMT, Tuna, Subway Melt, Chicken Terriyaki or something different? We have 13 different ones. The Classicals, LowFats or the Favorites.«

I close my eyes for a moment. Impossible to simply leave the place. It's a one-way queue. On top of that I've already got a tray.
»What can you recommend?«
»All of them are delicious,« she answers mercilessly.
I've always felt for outsiders. Thus the Favorites can be omitted. So the LowFats and Classicals remain. I finally answer and open the buttons of my jacket. I hadn't noticed how warm it was in there.
»And what kind of LowFat?« I fasten my eyes on the face of the shop assistant. I hadn't noticed the piercing below her lip. She raises her eyebrows and points to the boards with the pictures of five different sandwiches. The »LOWFATS« in capital letters. I am relieved and nod at her thankfully. At least the choice has been reduced. I decide on »Turkey Breast« because it's the picture on the extreme left. And against »Veggie Delight«, »Roasted Chicken«, »Subway Club« or »Ham«. The assistant is content with my choice, smiles and pushes her piercing outward with her tongue. I sigh with relief, but that is too early.
»We haven't finished yet« I hear her say in a determined voice, »we need something on top.« »What does that mean, topping?« »A Sub sandwich needs a topping. You can choose from Cheese Spread, Philadelphia Cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, pickles, olives or hot peppers.«
»What goes well with turkey breast?«
»Everything« she answers and I feel that her smile becomes mocking. I am asking myself if a piercing doesn't hurt. Behind me somebody is clearing his throat.
»Okay, then I'm taking cheese spread, lettuce and pickles.« My mouth feels dry.
»No olives?«
raquo;Why? – Ah well, olives as well.« Actually I don't like olives.
»Cheese spread, lettuce, pickles and olives?«
I nod.
»It's up to you.«

I turn around. The teenager behind me is looking on indifferently into the empty space. The girl again inflates her chewing gum bubble. She is now putting the different ingredients on the Whole Grain Turkey Breast. I think I can already go to the cash. But at the first step a cutting voice makes me flinch.
» One moment. We still don't have any dressing.«
»No dressing?«
»No, we still need a dressing.«
Suddenly the way to the cashier seems infinitely far. »Which dressings are there?« My voice seems rough, broken.
»Sweet Onion, Dijon Horseradish, Red Wine Vinaigrette, Honey Mustard or Mexican Southwest.« These words make as much sense as a piercing below the mouth.
I try a last attempt. »So, what goes well with whole grain, Turkey Breast with cheese spread, lettuce, pickles and olives?« I ask quietly.
She shrugs her shoulders. »It's up to you«, she answers without emotion, but my desperate expression mellows her.
»I guess, you are here for the first time,« she analyses. »Well, everybody is a little nervous at first.« She bends over the counter. »Take the Red Wine Vinaigrette,« she whispers. I nod violently. I have rarely felt such deep gratitude.
Her face muscles relax. »That's it,« she says, »you may go to the cashier now and order a beverage.«
Exhausted and with bent shoulders I hear the teenager order decisively, »one Parmesan Oregano with Asiago Cesar Chicken, add hot peppers, onions, lettuce and Mexican Southwest«.
I'm getting old.

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Stefan Schrahe

Wurde 1962 in Waldbröl geboren und lebt heute in Bonn und Mainz. Mit dem Schreiben hat er 1988 angefangen. Bis 1991 erschienen drei Automobil-Monographien im Heel-Verlag/Königswinter. Wegen [..]

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