I’ve always felt like I dodged a bullet by not being a coffee drinker. Caffeine is both highly addictive and not especially good for you; the fact that I can’t stand the taste of coffee, be it in black or latte form, is one of those rare occasions where life gives me a thumbs up, winks, and says, “I got your back, Truman. Only in this one very specific and ultimately inconsequential category, but, regardless, I got your back.”
Yet unfortunately, I’ve found a meaty Yin to coffee’s jittery Yang: I am completely and utterly addicted to Subway.
To be honest, I really can’t imagine why. Growing up, when my family would stop at Subway on a road trip, I would always sigh in disappointment and look longingly at the inevitable McDonald’s across the street, jam packed with happy children caulking their arteries in fat and entombing within their intestines parasites that are probably with them to this day. To me, staring glumly at my lonely six inch tuna sandwich, this was torture.
Subway was no fun back then, in the dark pre-Jared days. The Subways my youth were decorated in a really drab style, the walls either tope or adorned with blown up black and white pictures of the New York Subway system. You may as well have been eating in a coffin.
And to a child, the fun of going out to eat somewhere is that it’s exotic – bold and fascinating new tastes, the likes of which you couldn’t get at home. My parents didn’t have a deep fryer. The burgers Mom made didn’t taste like the ones at McDonald’s. There was no playground and ball pit anywhere in our house, an injustice that I brought up with my parents frequently.
Going to Subway was a waste of that exciting trip out to eat – because who the hell wants to eat a tuna fish sandwich at a restaurant? I could get that at home! Hell, if they were going to just charge people for cold sandwiches, what was next? A restaurant for cereal? Bars where you paid to breathe?*
*As it turns out, nightmares come true.
In high school, any inclination I would’ve developed toward Subway was destroyed by my deskmate Matt in Art History senior year. Matt worked at Subway, a job he hated with a passion usually reserved for Middle Eastern holy wars. Each morning, Matt would slump into his chair beside me, look at me bleary eyed, and say,
“I smoked too much weed last night.”
Then, he would launch into a description of the previous night’s horrors at Subway that had made him feel the need to herb up. The meatballs in the meatball marinara? Not necessarily real meat, and whatever the balls were made of, they were never stored at the temperature rated as safe by the Department of Health. The tuna was mixed together daily, by hand, in a big vat in the back room by employees who did not wear gloves or wash their hands first. For about a month, Matt came to class with a gigantic and disgusting blister on the side of his hand, the result of a burn from molten frosting off an oven fresh cookie.
This naturally drove me away from Subway for a good long time, and to this day whenever I see a child eating a Subway tuna sandwich I want to run over and bat it out of his hands before sitting him down for a half hour lecture on germ theory, and also why you should never turn your back on warm frosting.
But then I got to college, where, in the student union, there’s a Subway. It’s always open. Always. Late at night or on Sundays, when all the other food vendors in the building are closed up and empty, there’s a lonely sandwich artist standing at Subway like the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Given the hours that most journalism majors keep, and the proximity of this Subway to Allen Hall, it was inevitable that I would start eating there. What wasn’t as inevitable was the fact that, over the past four years, my Subway intake has skyrocketed to the point that I’ve probably consumed so many $5 footlongs that, were they laid together end to end, they could stretch across the country. This, however, would be a tragic waste of a lot of good Subway that could be given to the homeless, or me.
It’s gotten especially bad this term. I’ve been meaning to save as much money as I can to further fund Girlfriend Is Better and my upcoming Los Angeles escapades, but with the long hours I wind up spending at school and how far away my house is, I’ve been finding myself at Subway basically every day for the past month or so.
I eat so much Subway I can’t even taste the sandwiches anymore. I might just be hooked on the experience – I know basically everyone at the student union Subway now, which, if Subway was Cheers, would probably make me Norm. It’s a shame, too, because if I were Frasier they could make a spinoff about me eating the same sandwiches in a new location with new people.
Yes, I should be packing my own lunches. The problem is that the only food I have in the house is half a loaf of bread and a mostly full packet of Taco Bell brand ground beef seasoning. I often have high hopes of going to the store to get more food, but being as I leave the house every day at around 9:30 and don’t get home until 9:30 or later, I usually miss the window in which I can shop.
Hell, even when I did have food in the house I’d have every intention of packing myself a lunch, but then it was like my subconscious would kick my memory in the nuts, and the next thing I knew I’d be at school, hungry, and on my way to Subway because I’d forgotten to pack a lunch.
I don’t know how I moved from childhood disdain to adolescent revulsion to outright late-college addiction to Subway. Maybe it’s something rooted in that childhood love of going out to eat, but mixed with a more adult sentiment about being healthy, hence why I seem to have settled on Subway, which claims to be a healthy establishment in spite of the fact that it offers not one but two kinds of Philly Cheesesteak (three if you count the new Meltastic Chipotle Steak and Cheese.)
I suppose if I had to pick a thing to get addicted to, though, I’d rather it be submarine sandwiches than heroin. Heroin doesn’t have a $5 menu, and sandwiches leave my veins fresh and appealing.
Truman Capps does not recommend the Veggie Delite, which tastes the way The Elephant Man looks.