One of my mottoes in life (one of the ones I actually believe, not just one of the ones that sounds good) has always been “treat people the way that you would like to be treated.”
At its core, it’s a pretty simple principle to live your life by. Don’t like getting yelled at? Don’t yell at people. Don’t like being bossed around? Don’t tell people what to do all the time. Don’t like talking to idiots? Quit hanging out with Republicans.
But the problem with this is that your actions, be they of the best intentions, still don’t guarantee you’ll receive the same kind of treatment. Sometimes your good deed goes unnoticed or, even worse, punished. It’s not that good deeds prompt bad responses, but sometimes people just don’t get it.
Case in point, I’ve had some pretty lame jobs in my time – there was the Italian restaurant where the staff had to chase the manager out to the parking lot for their paychecks; there was the nameless coffee shop that made me sit outside and count foot traffic in the middle of a tropical storm (oh, it really happened) – but not once have I ever been forced to sing for tips.
Which is more than I can say for the poor souls manning the counter at the Subway on Calhoun Street.
Not to knock Subway employees, but it’s a pretty sad lot in life to have your job half-heartedly referred to under the moniker “artist” when you’re dealing with cold cuts and condiments. Not to say the term “sandwich artist” isn’t anything but another marketing ploy from the King of Marketing Ploys (“Hey, fatass! Why not try the Jared Starve Yourself Diet?” “Of course these veggies are fresh! They just came from that can didn’t they?”) but the idea that some poor soul somewhere dubbed themselves that – maybe they were bored, maybe they were in computers and felt unfulfilled and one day just decided to quit it all and spin the art world on its head, either way it’s just too damn much to think about without crying.
So it’s no surprise I’ve never really seen a Subway employee smile. Would you? But the poor bastards I encountered this afternoon took sadness to a whole different level. A fact that was not lost on the lady in front of me, who, when given the tally for her 12-inch sub and Coke, gave the cashier a $20, just sort of looked brokenhearted at her and said “Oh, you keep the change” (I swear on Ryan Seacrest’s grave, she really did).
So when my turn came, naturally I was inclined to give the two hard-working, long-suffering ladies some change. Bolstered by sense of what was right, and pressured by my sense of shame, I dropped my change into the tip jar ($3 and some coin … I know, big spender, right?)
Of course, judging by the nearly empty tip jar, I should’ve realized that this was probably not an event that happened fairly regularly. No, in fact this was a special occasion. And as Disney has taught us, special occasions are always celebrated in song (and then the main character’s mom usually dies). So what do they do when you tip the employees at the Calhoun Street Subway, you might ask? Well let me break it down for you…
Clap… Clap… “Tip Tip”… “Hooray!”… “Tip Tip”… “Hooray!”… “You’ve really made our day!”… “We’d like to thank you personally-“… “-for visiting Subway!”… “Tip Tip”… “Hooray!”
As I stood there, watching this horror of corporate horrors, I realized (gazes into distance like Carrie Bradshaw) it may be difficult for most of us to express how much we hate our jobs … but it takes a Subway employee to craft it into a work of art.
Happy Birthday, Melia!