All I wanted was a fucking sandwich

A turkey sandwich. With lettuce and mayo. That’s it. Nothing fancy.

And I’ve ordered a couple of these over the past 41 years — successfully and without incident, I might add. So the last thing I expected when attempting to perform this seemingly routine operation was to make a complete ass out of myself.

The trouble started when I told my co-worker I was going to pick up a sandwich at a local sub shop — excuse me: a local hoagie shop … because I live in Pennsylvania now, and they don’t have “sandwiches” or “subs” here; they have hoagies.

“How ’bout we go to Wawa instead?” my co-worker suggested.

For those of you not familiar with Wawa, it can best be described as the official Pennsylvania state religion … but you out-of-towners would probably refer to it as a convenience store. At any rate, it turned out I wasn’t ready to take First Communion at the Our Lady of St. Wawa altar on the day in question … because all of those other turkey sandwiches I had ordered during the past four-plus decades? They involved saying aloud to another human being “Turkey with lettuce and mayo, please.” But when we arrived at our local Wawa and approached the sandwich-ordering area, I was faced with this:

Now, in addition to having a proven track record of successfully ordering turkey sandwiches, I also have a long history of successfully interacting with technology. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m a tech geek. (As you may recall, I’ve even performed open-heart surgery on an iPhone.) So I love me some gadgets, and I most definitely love me the opportunity to further control my world via technology while simultaneously eliminating unnecessary human contact.

However…

On this particular day, at this particular Wawa, I was woefully sleep deprived and violently hungry and had been solely focused on uttering the phrase “Turkey with lettuce and mayo, please.” And so, when suddenly and unexpectedly faced with Wawa’s magical sandwich-ordering device, I somehow morphed into a 90-year-old man.

“There’s a big ‘Lunch’ button, and Jon asks me if he should press the special ‘Hoagie’ button,” my co-worker later said while gleefully describing to several other co-workers my sandwich-ordering fiasco.

“Dude, don’t be a douche,” I said. “I was trying to order a sandwich — excuse me, a hoagie — so it didn’t seem that far out of the realm of rational thought that I should maybe press the picture of the sandwich instead of the ‘Lunch’ button. It’s not like it was a picture of a fucking peacock in a headdress.”

I would not have ordered this.

So anyway, I tapped my way through the screens and ordered my sandwich … hoagie … whatever (and to further prove to all of you what a wild man I am: I didn’t even so much as flinch when the computer tried to up-sell me on adding some bacon to my sandwich. I immediately hit “YES” … because that’s just how I roll. Bring the bacon, motherfucker.).

“Please take your number,” the words on the screen instructed me as the printer spit out a slip of paper on which was printed a large “19” and some other, smaller print.

Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t specified “no tomato” … and I don’t think I’ve ever come across an establishment that doesn’t automatically put tomato on a turkey sandwich unless specifically asked to not do so. Turns out Wawa is the exception to that rule … which explains why the young sandwich-making lady looked at me like I was an idiot when I had the audacity to violate the Wawa-sandwich-ordering process by verbally requesting that she not put tomato on my sandwich.

Her reaction to my request caused me to play back in my mind the words I had used when making it, because although I was pretty sure I had said, “Excuse me, but could you please not put tomato on that?,” the expression on her face suggested that I had instead said, “Excuse, but could you please not put any peacock in a headdress on that?”

Unsure of what exactly I had done wrong, I decided to drop the matter and shuffle over to the refrigerator to select a beverage, at which point my brain finally caught up with the Wawa-sandwich-ordering experience.

“Dude, will they automatically not put tomato on my sandwich unless I specifically order it?” I asked my co-worker.

He looked at me like I had just said, “Dude, will they automatically not put peacock in a headdress on my sandwich unless I specifically order it?”

What the fuck was it with these self-righteous Wawa assholes?

Based on my revelation, I determined that I wasn’t going to be getting any lettuce on my sandwich, because I had not specifically pressed a “Lettuce” button during the ordering process. Nevermind the fact that I hadn’t even seen a “Lettuce” button during the ordering process.

“Um, hi, me again,” I said to the sandwich-making girl, who was visibility thrilled to have yet another opportunity to interact with Befuddled Middle-Aged Douchebag Guy. “I didn’t specify that I wanted lettuce on my sandwich. If you could please put some on it, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.”

By this point, the sandwich-making girl, my co-worker and the other smug Wawa disciples waiting for their own sandwiches all were looking at me as though I was a time-traveler visiting from the year 1885. Little did they know that I was about to up the ante.

Did you know that after you order your Wawa sandwich and take your number, you’re supposed to bring that number slip up to the front cash register and pay for your sandwich, and that you can’t retrieve your sandwich until after you’ve done so? Because I sure as hell didn’t.

“It says right on the slip that you’re supposed to pay up front first,” my co-worker told me after the sandwich-making girl who had just called my number informed me that I couldn’t yet take my sandwich.

“You mean the slip with the enormous ‘19’ on it?” I snapped. “I didn’t realize I was supposed to analyze my number slip like it was the fucking Davinci Code, OK? The computer said, ‘Please take your number,’ not ‘Please take your number and study the piece of paper on which it was printed.'”

I paid for my sandwich and returned to the deli area yet again.

“Thanks,” I said sheepishly as the sandwich-making girl handed me The Most Complicated Sandwich Ever Made. “Sorry for the confusion,” I added.

“Oh, no problem,” she said kindly and smiled at me … which felt even worse than her previously scornful treatment, as I’m pretty sure she had decided to treat me nicely only after concluding that I was mentally challenged.

I capped things off by purchasing a box of Depends and some Polident … because, clearly, the end is near.

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28 Comments

  1. Posted August 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    They are the hoagie nazis!

  2. Lunch
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    As you might have guessed, I know a thing or two about the mid-day sandwich ritual. Take me next time and I’ll show you the ropes. I imagine yours tasted pretty darn good after all that effort (and bacon)…

  3. Posted August 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh the Wawa ordering machines – I love them! And I love watching new people try to operate them. I once saw an older woman start speaking into one of them. I had to walk away, cause I was going to pee my pants.
    Sorry you had such an ordeal. Now you know.
    Oh and don’t even go to Geno’s and not order your cheesesteak right ‘Whiz wit’ cause those people will send you to the back of the line.
    I find that funny too, not quite pee-your-pants funny, but funny nonetheless.
    Great post.

  4. Melissa
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I would have been worse at ordering my sandwich. I live in Alabama and haven’t seen such high tech sandwich making like that. We go into Subway and a teenager puts what I want on my sub. Congrats on surviving your first visit there!

  5. Posted August 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Number 1: Your co-worker sucks. Like you can’t throw a little helpful advice out to the person to whom you recommended the unknown sandwich place. How about a little empathy for the first-timer….?

    Number 2: Lunch from a convenience store? Maybe you were asking for the trouble….unless, of course, what they call a “convenience store” in Penn is what the rest of the nation calls a “restaurant” or even “deli”.

    Number 3: LOOK UP THERE! Penny also has laughed at people being confused by the sandwich machine. It appears to be all part of the process.

  6. Posted August 30, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I share your Wawa hoagie ordering angst. While I absoutely LOVE the chicken salad, I have no idea how to order it so it tastes like what my husband orders. When he sends me in to order it, I stand there looking confused and ready to cry until he pumps the gas and comes in to find out what the hold up is. He has to order it. Every. Time.
    Dawn in DC´s most recent blog post: What a week it was!…My Profile

  7. Wonder Woman
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I just lived through this today!!! LOL!!! I was instantly dubbed “THE Wawa Virgin” (not even “a” Wawa Virgin!) and the ENTIRE store was talking about me, pointing me out…it was ridiculous! I did, however, successfully order the right veggies 😉

  8. Posted August 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m a foreigner (Kia ora from New Zealand) – … you went to a place called Wawa and ordered a Hoagie ??? … If I was visiting, I would starve to death – from ignorance 🙂 I think you did really well

  9. Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    ‘Wawa’? Who, pray tell, came up with this name?
    Kristen´s most recent blog post: READ THIS UPDATE.My Profile

  10. Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Ha! I have not heard of this place. I’m pretty sure I would have screwed it up too.

    I don’t remember the exact specifics, but I was visiting a friend in Minnesota and we stopped to get coffee somewhere (Caribou Coffee?), and I said something like “one large Caribou coffee” when I was apparently supposed to say, “one large CARIBOU.” Which my friend pointed out to me. UM OK. [I don’t remember exactly what it was, but something like that…].

    I dislike places which look down on you for not using their exact nomenclature….though yours sounded more fun 🙂 .

  11. Posted August 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    No hoagie for you!!!

    Seriously though, those machines resemble something found in the movie Idiocracy, and the fact that they exist chills me to the very core.
    Pink Dog´s most recent blog post: My friends know me so wellMy Profile

  12. Posted August 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear Lord! WHEN did ordering a sandwich (no, I refuse to call it a hoagie) become so freaking complicated??

    I recently went through a similar (though vastly different) experience while trying to order a turkey sandwich at a local deli – where you actually speak to humans. Apparently, the group in front of me had never been let out of the institution in which they are housed, because they didn’t have a CLUE.

    And yeah, maybe I did a post about it….

    But to be fair – had I been presented with that monstrosity I would have totally screwed it up too.
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: Guess what I made???My Profile

  13. Janice
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I promise, once you get the hang of it, you’ll love the convenience and flexibility of the Wawa ordering screen! And although I’ve lived in Philly for 14 years, I still don’t want to call them hoagies. I just do it to avoid the grief (or blank looks when I call them “subs”).

    Kristen, pretty sure wawa is a Native American word for goose.

  14. Sadie
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I too was dumbfounded the first time I used a Wawa machine to order a hoagie but I actually got what I wanted. It gets easier every time but I do get anxious when I want to try to order something new…People are watching what you are doing and no one wants to be coined a “Wawa Virgin”.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the names “Wawa” or “hoagie” , but I do LOL when I hear someone from another area say that they went to the “Piggly Wiggly” – What grown person would want to go grocery shopping in a store named Piggly Wiggly????

  15. Posted August 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a sandwich from Wawa! We don’t have them out west, unfortunately. We don’t even have decent delis here! Great post, and hope your next lunchtime encounter with the order screen goes more smoothly! 🙂
    Lauren´s most recent blog post: More Marinade! Now with Beer!My Profile

  16. Different Janice
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    After reading this I’m totally convinced to never come to Pennsylvania. I can’t order a SANDWICH without a tomato in the state I have lived in most of my life. Also a tomato deal, when I say no tomato they think I want one and put it on, when I don’t say anything, it’s there.

  17. Nancy
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I absolutely loved your description! You are a Word Wizard.

  18. Posted August 31, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’d swear this was an old Seinfeld episode! 🙂
    Meg at the Members Lounge´s most recent blog post: Hello, I’m Semi Brain Dead.My Profile

  19. Jamie, Mom of 3
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious! Seriously…

  20. Heidi
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I have never commented before- but this almost had me in tears laughing. I am no Wawa virgin, but until they put a “Little Bit of Miracle Whip” button on there, I’m still going to be telling the people behind the counter what I want every time.

    BTW- Pennsylvania is also the home of Sheetz. If you thought Wawa hoagies were complicated, just wait until you have to decide between a Sheetz Schmagel or Schmeltz.

  21. Paula
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I made fun of every Wawa I passed for the first 6 months of moving to PA-Media with a stop in West Philly long enough for the roof to cave in. which means I was pretty busy, since there is a Wawa on every street corner…a lot like Starbucks now that I live in Seattle. And then I went into one, and I knew the Truth.

    I miss Wawa, and wadderice, but I will definitely say, I don’t miss the attitude. At all. None. Although, sometimes I wonder if the attitude is better than the passive-aggressive “non-attitude” I get here.

  22. Posted August 31, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    They look at you the same way when you order a philly cheese stake at Reading Terminal Market and tell them you have no idea what your doing. might be the same way I looked at the ‘Southern Food ” when I walked by it. That crap was not real fried chciken and greens. And in case you want to know try asking for sweet tea.
    And Piggly Wiggly must be said with a Southern Accent.
    ferngoddess´s most recent blog post: the shock would kill you then you would kill meMy Profile

  23. Posted September 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Note to Self: Do not attempt the Wawa. I repeat: DO NOT ATTEMPT THE WAWA!
    Phoenix Rising´s most recent blog post: There are WAY MORE than just 4 things that will make me go insane. Trust me.My Profile

  24. Posted September 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. That was a little like reading a post with Latin words thrown in – hoagie, Wawa, technologically advanced sandwich machines. Wawa’s don’t exist in California, but then neither does customer service.
    Vesta Vayne´s most recent blog post: Am I Modern or Just Lazy?My Profile

  25. Pejibaye
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    The problem wasn’t you — the problem was that you were in Philadelphia, my least-favorite US city. Possibly my least favorite world city. I’ve felt sorry for you since you said you were moving there. I endured three years of life in the great northeast of Philly — and escaped.

  26. Posted September 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    we have WaWa in Northern Virginia too. I like the sandwiches well enough, but my favorite WaWa item is the chocolate milkshake… or the soda machine with the “add your own” syrups… or all of the coffee options. I’ve never heard it called a “convenience store” though… we just call it a gas station. lol.
    Jessica @ One Shiny´s most recent blog post: re-realization of the dayMy Profile

  27. Posted September 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    We don’t have Wawa in the area; we have Subway though. And, Quiznos, but toasted sandwiches are seven levels of disgusting.

    There is some mystical force in all Subway entranceways that cause me to miraculously grow three heads or something, because I get the most horrified, alarmed, and confused looks from Subway employees. Is it some sort of sin to order a turkey and cheddar on white bread? Seriously, I don’t want pepper. Or mayo. I wouldn’t have told you, “It’s all done, wrap it up.” if I wanted lettuce. Or tomato. Or, oh god are you really going to verify that I don’t want that either? Please run me through with your sandwich slicing knife.

    Is it that weird to like unusual sandwiches?
    HNtG´s most recent blog post: I Can Quit Any Time. I Swear.My Profile

  28. Posted September 7, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    That machines makes ordering a sandwich far more complicated than it needs to be. And I too hate shopping/eating in those places that have their own secret ritual you must obey.
    Then again I’m a simple sort of person I guess, I like the sub shops that’ll give you the basic fixings that go with their particular sandwich, then you can modify (yes I want guacamole on my chicken carbonara!), as opposed to say subway, where you have to pick the type of bread, then the type of cheese then the type of fork to stab yourself in the eye…
    Neeroc´s most recent blog post: August – Exhausting Pt. 2My Profile

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