I recently had lunch with my husband at one of those condo complexes that has about twenty restaurants to choose from for a meal. We skipped this place, as by the look of the signage, I assumed it was a kid’s place:
What or who is Newk? Are all the dishes there microwaved?
We also avoided the place named Slack’s. That name, while unfortunate and off-putting, is not nearly as hip-hideous as another joint I’ve seen called The Brickery. Gag.
We ended up being ushered into Which Wich? by an overly-eager manager who took our passing interest in his storefront as permission to kidnap us off the pavement. I regretted walking into the place as soon as he said, ‘Let me show you how this works…’
Works? Don’t you just take my order? One turkey sandwich, please.
Oh, no, no, no. That’s not how Which Wich? works.
Jon and I quickly discovered that this is a sandwich shop that adds the charm of taking an endless multiple-choice quiz to a mediocre, processed-meat lunch. This place offers 51 sandwiches – 5 variations each on turkey, ham, beef, chicken, seafood, italian, classics, ‘comforts’ (whatever that means), and breakfast sandwiches, plus one more called The Wicked. As a reward for slogging through this overly-long menu while your lunch hour ticks away, you get to pick up a paper bag and a Sharpie and then begin another round of choices.
What type of bread would you like? Check that off. Or do you want to skip the bread altogether and make it a salad? No, want to stick with the sandwich? Okay – would you like that toasted? Check it off! What size? Check that, too! Would you like cheese? Great! Please mark one – or more! – of our ELEVEN options. Oh, don’t put down that marker – you’re not done! Look at our choices for spreads or toppings -we have at least two dozen. And check out our selection of veggies, too. Careful, here – you don’t want to accidentally mark sauerkraut when you meant olive salad!
Oh. My. God. Not only was I blinded by the surfeit of choices I had to process in order to get my freakin’ turkey sandwich, but I was seized by test anxiety – what happened if I picked the wrong thing? What if someone behind the counter thought I’d marked ‘Cheez Whiz’ and I ended up with some sort of sandwich abomination? Could I just fill in ‘C’ for everything? Will that get me my lunch?
All this might have been worthwhile if the sandwich I ended up with was any better than the one I get at any other sandwich shop by simply nodding or shaking my head at a ‘sandwich artist’.
Here’s something that Americans don’t always get – ‘more choice’ is not always a recipe for success. I’ll be choosing Subway from now on.