The made-to-order (petrol station) sandwich
I had one of those busy mornings today that meant lunch would either be incredibly late or taken on the run. And the only place between me and school pick-up was, unfortunately, a petrol station – so I stopped to grab a sandwich.
As is often the case when you try to pick up a petrol-station sandwich at 12.30pm, they were all gone bar the egg mayo with margarine on white. Frankly, I’d rather eat my own toenail clippings.
But then I noticed that the petrol station “bakery” had a made-to-order sandwich service. Why not? I thought, pushing thoughts of salmonella out of my head. I was hungry enough.
I established contact with the head honcho. I think he was Kenyan. He had an engaging, laid-back manner and I liked him at once.
“Yes madam,” he said with a huge smile. “We can do that for you. You want ciabatta?”
“No. Brown bread, please.”
After several long seconds entering in the right code for tuna salad, extra cheese, on brown, he sent me over to the cashier to pay before he was allowed to start work. I handed over Dhs 12.50 (8.50 for the bread, butter, tuna, sweetcorn, mayo, lettuce, tomato and cucumber. And another Dhs 4 for a small slice of processed cheese) and returned to find him cutting open a brown ciabatta.
“Do you have normal brown bread?” I asked. His look became ever more quizzical as I reeled through everything I could think of. “You know? Sliced bread? Sandwich bread? Not puffy bread. Normal bread?”
“Ah!” he finally got it. “You mean triangle bread!” He got out a loaf of very square-looking “triangle” bread and started to scrape on the thinnest layer of tuna mayo you could possibly imagine.
“Do you have butter?” I asked.
“Butter?” he asked, slapping his forehead. “Yes! But I just put on one side for you. Other side now has tuna. One side butter only, madam. Better for you!”
I laughed. Although I could have made a better sandwich in a quarter of the time (and was beginning to wish I had), it was hard to be irritated. It was a little like watching live comedy, to be honest.
He scraped some margarine onto one piece of the square-triangle bread and added the four-Dirham slice of cheese. Then work stopped for no apparent reason.
After a couple of minutes of toe-tapping, I asked if he could just bung the salad in so I could get going. At this rate I wouldn’t even get two minutes to eat it before pick-up.
As he carefully laid a quarter of a lettuce leaf across the thin scraping of tuna mayo, he smiled a megawatt smile.
“Madam,” he said with gravitas. “Sorry for the delay. But be patient…” He added a generous two slices of tomato and two fat slices of cucumber, wrapped it in paper and handed over the somewhat limp creation. “… Rome was not built in a day.”