What a weird 15 minutes

There came the occasion when I went to a sandwich shop to order a quick something. And there, in that shop, I experienced the strangest 15 minutes I can remember in recent history.

First, let me be clear that it wasn’t in York or even York County. It was in another location in the state. So when I talk about this incredible display of customer service, there is no local blame.

That said, here is the tale of 15 weird minutes.

I entered the building and saw two men already standing in line, waiting to order. There was no attendant immediately seen, but everyone patiently waited.

Then, the woman made her appearance. Her face was bright red and she appeared to be flustered.

She positioned herself at the food preparation line and asked the first man what he wanted.

“I would like a chopped salad,” the skinny little man lightly whispered.

“Are you kidding me?” she exclaimed with a high-pitched squeal that made us customers jump.

“No, I’m not kidding,” the meek man responded. “I’m not sure why that would be a joke, when it’s on the menu.”

“Fine!” she exclaimed, clearly agitated. “Well, I’ll have to go back to the kitchen to get the equipment!”

She took a deep breath, sighed, made a woeful sound and took a step. At that point, she let out a loud, blood-curdling yelp and nearly fell to the ground.

“Oh, my God!” she screamed. “Oh, I’m in so much pain!”

The men looked at each other, they looked at me. One of them, a man with a southern accent, said, “Ma’am, are you OK?”

“Does it look like I’m OK?” she barked at him and hauled herself back to the upright position by hanging onto the counter.

She took a deep breath and slowly made her way back to the kitchen, constantly saying, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.”

Once she was out of our view, we could suddenly hear the banging of kitchen equipment and some colorful words describing her love of her current employment.

When the banging and swearing stopped, she reappeared – this time with her work cap slightly off kilter and a strange new stain on the front of her apron.

“Alright, ouch! What, ouch! Do you want, ouch! In your salad, ouch!” she asked the man who I think had shrunk about three inches since he got there.

He then opened his mouth and listed all the ingredients he wanted to see in that bowl. And let’s just say, it was pretty much everything the business had to offer.

“Oh my God!” she screeched. “You want all that? That means I’m going to have to move and I don’t think I can take it!”

Sweat started pouring down her face and she winced and grunted as she reached for each and every vegetable the guy asked for.

“Can you chop that up pretty fine?” he whispered, obviously scared of the outcome.

“Sure, I can!” she yelled. “Why don’t you just ask me to run around the building while you’re at it and see if I drop to the ground?”

Now, mind you, we had (and I still have) no idea what was wrong with this woman. We had no idea what was making her cry out in pain every time she moved.

And we also had no idea why she was at work, if her mental and physical state was so horrific.

Plus, I don’t think her people skills were probably all that honed prior to this day – so therein lay the question of why she was ever hired in the first place.

After everything was in this bowl, we watched as she chopped and chopped and chopped and chopped and winced and whined and screamed out in horror.

A couple of times I looked around the building to see if I could find a hidden camera crew – because surely we were being punked or something.

But no camera crew ever jumped out – this was actually a real situation.

She showed him the bowl and angrily asked, “Is that chopped good enough for you?”

He said it was, noting it now looked like it had been pureed in a food processor.

“Can I have vinegar on it and a side of ranch dressing?” he asked.

“Why the hell would you want to mix vinegar and ranch together?” she screeched at him.

At that point, I almost wanted to laugh out loud because it was so ridiculous. But I didn’t dare, seeing how I was starving and eventually it would be my turn to take a beating.

“I guess I just like it,” he said.

“Whatever,” she responded.

He gave her his money and she ripped it from his hand.

Then something really, really awful happened.

The coins would not come out of the automatic changer.

“For God’s sakes!” she howled to the sky and again, I jumped.

She braced herself, took a deep breath, bit her lip, raised her arm and slammed her hand against the side of the register. And in doing so, let out a cry of pain that sounded as if someone was ripping her guts out.

The change flew down the little slide where the man hurriedly grabbed his 30 cents.

As the southern gentleman approached her, she wiped her sagging bangs from her eyes and growled, “Oh no, now I have to get new gloves!”

We experienced another round of “ouch” screams while she donned her protective gear.

“Oh my God,” she said, hanging onto the counter. “What can I get for you?”

The southern man proclaimed he wanted a steak and cheese, toasted . . . but, oh dear God, with no bun.

“How the hell would I do that?” she asked, while I wondered the same thing.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “But I want extra meat and extra cheese.”

As she screamed out in torment, like a sheep being attacked by a wolf, she piled the mess on a piece of waxed paper on the toasting grate and slammed the whole dang thing in the toaster oven.

A few minutes later, it was time to throw the mound in a bowl, where he wanted it topped “with three helpings of mayo, two helpings of mustard, and every vegetable you have.”

Now, I have to admit, I agreed with her sentiment that it was “a disgusting pile of goo” – although as the service worker, it wasn’t her role to tell the customer what she thought of his choices.

This time, thankfully, the change rolled out like it was supposed to and she didn’t have to hit it while emitting exorcism-associated sounds.

As she struggled to breathe through a new pair of gloves, her eyes set on me.

“Well, those two, that was weirdest stuff I’ve ever seen,” she said, almost mustering a smile. “It’s been a weird day.”

Oh, lady, you have no idea how weird the last 15 minutes have been, I thought. And their orders were only about 5% of that weirdness.

“Alright, don’t put me through too much,” she commanded. “What do ya’ want?”

And I whispered, “just ham and cheese on wheat, with nothing else on it.”





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