I am a fairly adept sandwich maker. This should not be surprising as I once worked at a delicatessen. My supervisor was a sandwich master and referred to himself as a “deli-man.” Today, the Subway chain calls their counter staff “Sandwich Artists,” but even “artist” pales in light of the skills and knowledge of a true deli-man.
My sandwich master was a force of nature. He knew his meats and cheeses. He taught me the order things had to go onto the sandwich to be the most appealing to the palate. He introduced me to complementary flavours, suitable condiments for various tastes, and what combinations “worked” or didn’t. Even the way the bread was sliced was important.
He was sure that there was a right way to construct a sandwich. Variations were allowed, but deviations of key “rules” were not. Even the maxim, “the customer is always right,” had no weight if the customer ordered a “bad sandwich.” He had a loyal following, it is true, and many patrons came to trust “his ways.” Other first timers, at times, were shocked by his candour (or outright rudeness) about their orders. And as far as vendors and suppliers were concerned, it was a case of “let the seller beware!” I remember one occasion when a supplier brought in a sample of a new line of pastrami. Ted looked at it, smelled it, looked at the salesman, and then said, “Come with me.” He then went to the cooler still carrying the offending item, and said, “You call that a pastrami?” He picked up one of our own stock, thrust it toward the man’s face and said, “Look, this is a pastrami!”
So why this discourse on sandwich making? It is in a sense allegorical of life more generally. Sometimes we just need to “get it right.” The lives we live should be about what we hold to be true, what we value, and about how true we are to those truths and values. Ted valued his art. He saw every sandwich that passed over our counter as a test of his reputation and integrity. It was more than just something between slices of bread.
What will your life serve up today?