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Tuesday, July 26, 2005   |    Fiction

Meet Your Subway Sandwich Artist

by Ray Stillman

Stamp this.Hello, I am Manesh! I pick the bread. I am Manesh the bread picker! You tell me what type of bread you want for your sandwich and I pick it out for you! I squeeze it with my hands to make sure it is fresh and then I slice it open. Squeeze, slice, squeeze, slice. I squeeze and slice all day long! We have many types of breads here in Subway. Do you like to eat the bread with parmesan and oregano seasoning? We have that bread! Do you like to eat the bread with seeds? We have bread with seeds! Do you like to eat the bread with nothing on it? We have bread with nothing! In my home country of Kazakhstan, the only kind of bread we have is bread with sand on the bottom. I am happy to be in America, land of six different breads!

Hello! My name is Raman! I am from Indonesia! I come to America one month ago! I put slices of meats on the bread! Then I push the sandwich to my partner Javier! Javier puts the cheeses on my meats! We are a team! We are like Batman and Robert! We both wear plastic gloves! That is to keep any communicable diseases from infecting your meats and cheeses! I’ve never been to a doctor in my life!

Me llamo Javi. Yo soy el hombre con el queso.

Hi! I’m Maria. I keep both my hands buried in the tin of shredded lettuce, so I can be ready when your sandwich comes to me. I will scoop up two great bunches of shredded lettuce with my fists and spread it out across your sandwich so that it looks pretty. If I see an ugly brown shred of lettuce, I will pluck it out of your sandwich and toss it back into the lettuce tin. I shuffle the lettuce around a lot to keep it looking fresh. The gloves only cover up to my wrists but the lettuce tin is long and deep and I can reach down up to my elbows—but do not worry! My forearms are very clean! I wipe them with a dishrag before I dig into the lettuce. I am proud to add bits of salad to your sandwich because it is healthy for you.

Hello, my friend. I am named Ahmad. In Iran, I was chemical engineer. I come to America to put pickle, olive, pepper on sandwich. For this work I am being paid five dollar per hour. I have not seen my wives or childs for six years. I serve you, my American friend. Enjoy your pickle, olive, pepper!

I am Nam. I am Bangladeshi. I get to hold the knife. I cut the sandwich in half if it is a footlong. If it is only six inches, I do not have to do anything because Manesh cuts in half at the start. I like cutting things with my knife. It is not very sharp but it is very clean. I like my knife very much. I do not let others touch my knife. When I was in Bangladesh, I cut the ears off my father-in-law’s donkey with my knife. If I save enough money I want to fly back to Bangladesh one day and cut the ears off my father-in-law. Then I am going to fly to Hollywood and become a movie star. I also wrap the sandwiches. Would you like stamps?

Ray Stillman once killed a man with his bare hands, although he is not one to brag about such things. He is an aspiring screenwriter, an inspiring poet, and a perspiring photographer. Mr. Stillman is an ex-New Yorker who now lives in scenic, sunny, star-saturated Los Angeles, in an apartment building between a bowling alley and a tatoo parlor. He often finds it difficult to resist the urge to ink "Gutter balls" across the knuckles of his left hand. He has made sweet, sweet love with supermodel Heidi Klum many, many times but, again, is not one to brag.