How much would you have to be paid to make sandwiches behind protective Plexiglas while being abused by substance-enhanced and life-addled customers? I guess if it’s the difference between staying in your home and feeding your kids … and not, then the answer is pretty clear.
We were on our way to the Redskins game, my husband, cousin and I. The plan: Hit Taylor Gourmet, a self-styled Philadelphia hoagie (sandwich) shop. Problem: they open at noon. The game starts at 1. Instead, we hit a Subway on the way. Central Avenue? Or is it still East Capitol? We pull away from the other Redskins fans into the parking lot.
An empty shopping plaza. Was the place open? Looks like there are people in there, right? We park and jump out, layered in our football watching clothes. Me, with my Redskins baseball cap and scarf (I had yet to put on my Santana Moss jersey – the sausage casing, as my friend calls it).
I’m a little taken aback. There’s a Plexiglas divide between the two women working there and us, the customers. There are two cut out holes, where we shout our orders: Turkey and provolone on wheat bread, or whatever it is. There’s a circular gizmo where the worker passes us the sandwich and we pass her the money. Okay, I had seen that before, but it had been a while.
There’s a woman there, ordering a sandwich. And a guy. He’s hopped up on something. He’s slurring and shouting at the same time. More mayonnaise. He manages to make the word mayonnaise five syllables long. More lettuce. More. He leaves. I get my sandwich.
I’m waiting for the others.
Another customer comes in. Three oatmeal raisin cookies. She asks if he wants them heated. He berates her: are they oatmeal raisin? I knew you were going to just put anything in there.
I look back at her as I leave. Minimum wage. Can’t be worth it. But what are her choices?