I pulled into the gas station, craving a roast beef and swiss sandwich. It’s only $2.75 for a few pieces of beef, a slice of swiss cheese, and whatever toppings you want (which for me, of course, is a little bit of lettuce so I can convince myself that I’m eating vegetables) and when paired with an inexpensive bag of chips and a 20 oz. soft drink, this late night meal will totally tide me over til the morning and is well within my budget.
Being 8:30 PM on a Monday, there were no other cars in the parking lot and no one was at the pumps. There was, however, a large man in a t-shirt smoking a cigarette talking on a cell phone standing by the door. This man will be known as Jethro for the remainder of this story.
Jethro saw me coming and didn’t seem thrilled. He put his cigarette down and walked inside but stayed on his cell phone. I opened the door and walked in. He looked up and said “Hello” and was friendly enough until I asked a simple question.
“Can I get a sandwich?” I inquired.
“My deli’s closed” he said. “Too hard to make sandwiches and run the pumps.”
If this were a movie, you would have heard the crickets chirping as I looked at him, and then back out to the empty parking lot, and back at him again. I turned on my heels and said (with zero attitude, I promise), “Oh, I’ll guess I’ll have to go somewhere else then.”
I don’t know what clicked for Jethro in that moment but he hung up his cell phone in a hurry and said, “Hold on, come here,” and waved me over to the deli counter.
I placed my order, which really couldn’t have been easier to make. Roast beef with swiss cheese on white bread with a little bit of lettuce. I then went to the chips aisle and he said again, “Its just hard to run both the counter and the pumps.”
I smirked to myself and said, “Sure, I get it.”
He then asked me what kind of bread I wanted. ”White.” was my reply.
“Nope, no mayo. Just plain,” I said as I picked out the Sweet Hawaiian Onion chips.
“You said roast beef, right?”
“Yep. Roast Beef with swiss cheese on white bread with a little lettuce. Pretty plain. Nice and easy.”
After about 98 seconds, my sandwich was complete, wrapped, and ready to be rung up.
“Sorry about that again, buddy, its just so hard to run both the pumps and the deli counter by yourself.” I glanced out at the empty pumps once last time and said, “Yeah, I totally get it, man. Thanks! Gotta be tough to keep up.”
Yeah, but its so much easier than getting fired the next day when I tell the owner what happened, I thought to myself.
Ah, the sweet taste of victory.
P.S. if I die tonight in my sleep, it was Jethro and whatever rat poison he had behind the “closed” deli counter.