Friday, August 22, 2008

Guest Post: A Subway Sandwich Shop Adventure in the 'Hood

I really loved this post by my husband in his blog, so I cross-posted it here for your enjoyment!
There's a Subway at 9350 Woodward Avenue just east of Chicago Blvd....

It can’t be easy working at any fast food joint, especially when that particular fast food joint is located in the ‘hood. Because, well, things operate in a slightly different manner in the ‘hood as compared to, well, elsewhere.

Just as an example? My wife loves this one Subway sandwich shop which is located about 2 minutes away from our house on the west side of Detroit. Subway has these chicken salads that are really, really good. That  sauce…? Da bomb.  No joke.

So anyway, she sends me over there one day to pick us up a couple of these salads. Cool. I pull up in front of the place, park the car, get out, dodge a few random winos, then step inside to stand in line. The sister cursing out someone I assume to be her boyfriend over her cell phone isn’t really what catches my attention. I’m used to folk walking around yelling  into a phone like nobody else can hear them. Or like they think anybody else gives a damn that pookie ain’t treatin’ his boo with the requisite amount of respect.

No, what gets my attention first is the table full of young brothers smoking cigarettes by the door, checking everyone as they step through the door into Subway Land.  Because I’m wondering, you know, if this is one of those special Subways that was issued a smoking permit. I’m assuming that must be the deal because these youngsters are firing up like they’re at the corner bar. Except the corner bar would probably toss them out on their defiant young assets since they look like they’re sneaking up on maybe 16 or 17 years old.

Moving right along, I settle in for what I calculate will be about a 10 to 15-minute wait for the salads. Not because there are that many folks in line but because this is the ‘hood and there are only a couple of overworked brothers behind the bullet-proof glass. One of them appears typical, meaning he appears extremely pissed that he has to be there at all and couldn’t care less what you want to order. But the other one is the one who I slowly begin to realize is a candidate for Urban Subway Hero. Because in the midst of it all - the automatically attached indignities of minimum wage labor, the sometimes overly funky attitudes of the clientele, and who knows what else he is dealing with in  life beyond Subway’s boundaries - this brother is a non-stop comedy routine who manages to keep everybody cracking up while obviously picking up the substantial slack of his Subway ‘partner’ who seems capable of little more than taking sandwiches in and out of the microwave.

But instead of dragging this lazy-ass youngster to the side and asking him to pick up the pace, he just acts like the kid isn’t even there as he steadily juggles taking the orders, making several sandwiches at a time, cashing out the orders, and keeping the clientele entertained. After several minutes of watching this young brother work, I decide that he is my new role model,  even though I’m probably twice his age. Because any youngster in Detroit who can work at a fast food restaurant in the ‘hood deserves a gold star just for showing up to work every day. Those that do. But those who actually find themselves capable of putting on a smile and exhibiting unchacteristic joy at being able to provide the customer a well-made sandwich and a soft drink deserve to have a statue made in their honor.
Subway's Jared Fogle
Subway's Jared Fogle

Because everyone knows Jared, the Subway guy who lost all that weight eating Subway sandwiches and who now is collecting a healthy paycheck due to that one simple act of self-preservation. But not everyone knows - or will ever know - about youngsters like the young brother who toils in obscurity in our nearby Subway shop with a smile and a ready wit to brighten customer days. Because days in Detroit, particularly in the ‘hood, can be harsh at times. And a reason to smile or laugh is frequently more appreciated here than it might be somewhere else where joy isn’t needed quite so desperately.

So here’s a sincere hat’s off to that young brother at Subway, and to the young brothers and sisters throughout the land who smile and persist throughout it all, probably thinking that nobody is even paying attention or much cares. After all, it’s only a Subway, right?

But someone is always watching. Always. And someone always cares when you do the right thing in the midst of it all. And what my wife and I told you that day? We meant every word of it.
Keep that head up, young ‘un.

Shameless Plug: please read my husband's blog, The "D" Spot...

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