This Isn’t Law School, It’s a Sandwich Shop

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to cut down my screentime. To help accomplish this, I’ve put daily timers on my Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube apps to help curtail the endless scrolling that ends up documenting too much of my time.

I lasted twelve days before disabling my YouTube timer. I’d had it set for 20 minutes a day, but the YouTube algorithm had other plans. This past weekend, I woke up, opened YouTube to see what the YouTube gods would serve me, and kudos to them for keeping us all addicted because they know exactly what we need. YouTube filled my feed with classic Jersey Shore scenes that required approximately 45 minutes of my time. 

If you want to hate on Jersey Shore, then this is not the place for you. I unequivocally love the exploits of Snookie, The Situation, Vinnie, J-Woww, DJ Paulie D, and the highly underrated Deena (the less said about Rahhhn, Sammie, or the Staten Island Garbage Dump, the better). 

Here’s my elevator pitch for why Jersey Shore was the last great reality television show: watching the early seasons is watching actual reality television. This was not some savvy pharmaceutical sales rep named Tyler or publicist named Lauren trying to pivot to the life of a professional influencer, this was a bunch of hot messes put into a shitty shore house and let loose like the animals they were. 

I also firmly believe that the characters I just mentioned enjoying watching—Snookie, J-Woww, Vinnie, DJ Paulie D, Deena, and The Situation—are, at their core, decent humans who learn and grow in the way many reality tv stars don’t. Typically, reality tv stars end up being almost caricatures of themselves, but you could, for example, probably write a solid treatise about how The Situation might have the most sympathetic growth arc in reality television.

Jersey Shore being a legitimately good show is a hill I’m very comfortable dying on. 

I watched multiple clips concerning the greatest note ever written. I watched season one’s infamous hippopotamus attack, and I watched Snooki’s “where’s the beach” arrest—earlier in the day, before her arrest, a young Snooki is simply trying to sneak a bathroom beer at her job on the boardwalk tee-shirt shop. When her boss catches and disciplines her, Snookie looks at the camera and deadpans, “This isn’t law school, it’s a tee-shirt shop.”

I felt that line. It made me laugh. And I knew exactly where I should’ve used it recently. 

There’s a trendy River Arts District restaurant I’m not going to name that, for all intents and purposes, is a sandwich shop. I’m not denigrating that. I’m simply pointing out the truth. My problem with this sandwich shop is that it’s pretending to be more than it is. It’s pretending to be a full-service restaurant even though it’s an order-at-the-counter sandwich and burger joint that has the gall to have an “as the chef intended” rule. 

In general, I’m not a fan of “as the chef intended.” Feel free to disagree and realize I’m writing as solely a consumer, not someone with any culinary experience, actual food knowledge, and an admittedly unsophisticated palate. But in my ever-so-humble opinion (which, as I repeatedly say, is the entire nexus for personal blogs), it’s pretentious and not providing a good customer experience. Now, if you go to a restaurant and ask for chicken parm with marsala sauce instead of marinara and no parmesan in the breading, and dark meat instead of a chicken breast, then you are an asshole who deserves any lifetime ban a restaurant decides to lob your way, but asking for a sandwich with no pickles or no olives in a tossed salad is par for the course. 

This particular sandwich shop has a rule that you either eat the sandwich dressed precisely how described on the menu OR receive your condiments/accouterments on the side. For example, I ordered a panini and asked for no pickles. Now, there was a sign saying the sandwiches are served “all or nothing,” but I assumed asking for pickles on the side, but the sauce on the sandwich wouldn’t be a big deal—my mistake. I was informed that I could get the sandwich with pickles and aioli or a plain meat and cheese panini with pickles and aioli on the side. Those were my options.  I asked for them on the side. I didn’t question the employee any further. Still, maybe my tone or face conveyed confusion because when it was time to receive my food, the manager brought didn’t just bring me a side of pickles and aoli, but some smug lecturing too.

The manager explained that they are a popular, busy restaurant with a small staff who can’t keep up with the mountain of customizations customers ask for. He assured me that while I may not have any experience in the restaurant industry (I didn’t volunteer that I didn’t, he made this assumption on his own), he could assure me that my request was out of line. While many restaurants accommodate such demand, they are not easy on the staff. He pointed out again that only four of them were working that day. Because I’m often weak when confronted with assholery, I thanked him for this lecture and didn’t point out how I’d been at Subway the day before, and the single employee waiting on me was able to quickly and efficiently make me a customized, toasted sub. 

What I wish I’d said was, “Sir, this isn’t law school…it’s a sandwich shop.”

Editor’s Note: The sandwich in the cover photo is not from the unnamed sandwich shop I’m bitching about in this post. It’s the fried bologna sandwich from Foothills Butcher Bar in Black Mountain. Both the butcher bar and the fried bologna sandwich are delightful (actually, the sandwich I had with aoli and pickles on the side was also delightful, but I won’t be indulging again since I’m filled with principles and hate).

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