Pseudopod 81: It’s Easy to Make a Sandwich

By SL Bickley

Read by Ben Phillips

You know what goes into each variety — you’d better, you’ve gone
over it enough times. You know what’s in each of the recessed boxes
in the counter.

Meats: Salami, pepperoni, roast beef, turkey, tuna salad, meatballs,
chicken salad. Bacon’s in the narrow coffin-like depression, dead
center.

Cheeses: American, white American, pepper jack, Colby, provolone.

Vegetables: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, peppers (red
bell, green bell, jalapeƱo, banana), black olives, pickles.

Sauces: mustard, mayonnaise, chipotle mayonnaise, Italian, light
Italian, ranch, all in upside down squeeze bottles. Oil and vinegar
in cruets. Shakers of salt-and-pepper, oregano, Lawry’s Seasoned
Salt.

It’s a lot to keep track of. At least, it’s a lot for the mind to
keep track of.

It’s easy to make a sandwich if you switch off your mind.




Today’s Sponsor:

Infected by Scott Sigler

01
themindfantastic
March 14th, 2008 12:47 am

I dunno so much if this is horror, but an aspect of so many lives and what so many people find themselves desiring a similar life like the one mention. I hand out free newspapers to people and my nod, morning, have a wonderful day is so much an automatic response it doesn’t always turn off after I leave… the automatic response people give to me is also so conditioned in as well, I sometimes wonder if I screamed at people would they shake out of their own internal dialog for a moment. I’ve tested it by speaking in other languages to people, Bonjour, Guten Morgan, Ohio Gozimas, it usually doesn’t register. I wouldn’t kill them, but sometimes I wonder if I just did something to freak them out would it really change anything?

02
P.C. Haring
March 14th, 2008 1:36 pm

Went to Quiznos for lunch just before listening to this…made me think twice. Very well done.

03
Mari Mitchell
March 15th, 2008 12:14 pm

Well I’ll be damn, I cannot figure out how to listen to this. Grumble, brumble, stumble! Everything else I can. I am horrible dyslexic, so some things can escape me.

04
Mari Mitchell
March 15th, 2008 12:31 pm

It figures. I found it. Change one and…
I thought it was good story but not a “WOW”! In fact, I liked the comments afterwards more.

05
March 15th, 2008 2:50 pm

missing the listening / download link?

how does one down load Number 81?

thx in advance for the help,
F

06
March 15th, 2008 2:54 pm

The link is back — THANKS !

07
March 15th, 2008 2:55 pm

Sorry about the link problem, everyone. Seems to be working now, but keep us posted if not.

08
March 16th, 2008 8:54 am

As a former Subway Sandwich shop employee during college, I deeply appreciated this story.

Let it be know that the only poisoning I ever did was to unwittingly sell an expired crab salad from time to time.

09
Luniara
March 17th, 2008 9:26 am

OH damn! I’m scared to walk into a subway or Quiznos now! I’ll be eyeing these sandwich makers down! Ahaha! This one was awesome! It’s not just a sense of horror, it’s possible!

10
March 18th, 2008 8:17 pm

The old admonition comes to mind: Don’t f*#k with people who handle your food.

Or, in this case: Don’t aggravate the existentialist angst and latent psycopathy of those who handle your food, with your bland conformity… etc, etc.

11
Chris in Austin
March 20th, 2008 5:05 am

Good story. I just came over from Escape Pod and have listened to the past 20 or so episodes. I like the style of the stories a lot. I worked as a cook in a restaurant once. It was probably better to not have to see the customers everyday since I was in the “back of the house”. This story seems spot on with the whole lost youth theme. That time in one’s life is so beautiful and liberating, potentially, or conversely just plain horrible.

I think we like to debate whether or not something is science fiction or not or horror or not is because the genres are so vital and powerful that they have a tendency of taking over perspective of the whole world. Sometimes the debate might be enlightening and constructive. In this case I wonder if the absence of some sort of supernatural entity disqualifies it as pure horror? Is it merely psychological crime fiction? This seems true, yet one just has the feeling that this story belongs with all the other “ghost” stories.

Thanks and I look forward to enjoying many more Pseudopod casts in the future.

12
treed
March 20th, 2008 9:54 am

i only started listening this past summer (been curious to hear since i heard of this place on escapepod, i started there a about 6-8 months earlier) became a huge fan, listened to every story with joy and anticipation, even the ones the make my soul tremble. especially enjoyed the geological one (i am a geologist become mathematician) now, if you could find a GOOD horror story involving math…i know, i now, math in and of itself is everyones idea of horror, but still, horror goes across genre boundries, into scifi, fantasy, mystery, and i even believe todays TV shows called reality TV is a form of horror (it is definately a form of torture) so why not a horror story bringing the MAGNIFICENT world of MATHEMATICS to life (or death as it were)

well with all that said, i have truly enjoyed these stories, i would have to say Bliss has had the profoundest effect on me. my skin still crawls when i think of it. keep ‘em coming and damn the tordpedos, full speed ahead!!

treed, the hyper-active commenter @ sigler’s world

13
treed
March 20th, 2008 10:04 am

oops, meant to comment on this weeks story as well.

when you see the person behind the counter, what is going through their mind? what kind of life do they have? do they feel trapped and need a way out? has all the hopes and asperations been whittled down to sandwich making? do they life a marginal existance and see a need to break out? do they see me and you as a source of irratation and need to strike out? do they want some excitment beyond anticipating what the next sandwich will be? and carry this out of the sandwich shop, what about your druggist? or grocery? or butcher? or… think of the implications here and this kind of story can get the paraniod truly out of control. then you can go into the illogical. gee, do i sound paraniod?? uhoh, need to see a pharmasist about some pills…
laters, maybe

14
Anon
March 20th, 2008 3:03 pm

I, too enjoyed this story. One gets the subtle but visceral impression of a person worn down by failure, circumstances, and disappointment to the degree that they finally crack.

Several years ago, I read a review of a Jennifer Aniston movie by some snooty film critic who argued that the film’s premise–that customer service and retail was inherently soul-sucking–was laughable. I wanted to find that man and smack him.

My first job was at Subway, and I can tell you it is indeed a soul-sucking experience. Working retail and fast food, and later a bank drive-thru window, created the toughest years of my life. I do remember the customers that treated me like a transactional robot, and I remember feeling like a cog in some unfeeling machine. This story struck very close to home.

Something tells me that if the average person had to work one of these jobs for a few years, we might find ourselves living in a much more polite world.

15
March 21st, 2008 8:45 am

I can say I won’t look at Subway in particular in the same way. I did always know that retail positions were leeches of people’s souls, though.

Same as working in a cubicle.

16
scatterbrain
March 21st, 2008 12:39 pm

I’m apsolutely fucking sick of hearing about Infected!

It’s all over the place; escape pod, podiobooks, on review sites and webzines and now here!
When I read it it had better be good or else…

17
treed
March 23rd, 2008 5:05 pm

scatterbrain
go to siglers site or podiobooks and download the podcast version (same as the book) or pre-order it through any book saler. the audiobook version (by purchase) hasadditional content on it (deleted sections, new material, etc.)

18
Chris in Austin
March 26th, 2008 5:52 am

So Treed, when you say Horror story involving math, are you thinking of something along the lines of the movies “PI” and “A Beautiful Mind”?

Horror qua horror very naturally incorporates biology, chemistry and physics; It is interesting that when it comes to Math it is always intensely psychological and solipsistic. Could “Flatland” be made into a horror story? Perhaps. I am intrigued but not sure how it could be done.

19
Spork
April 7th, 2008 7:25 pm

This one didn’t really do much for me at all. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it, either.

I also didn’t understand it. If a demon or voice from the shadows pestered him into poisoning people, I might have enjoyed it more. But, some slacker shit hating his life enough to poison others and himself just didn’t make me get all tingly with horrific fear, it just irritated me.

20
Spork
April 8th, 2008 7:41 am

You “two” are kind of missing the point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

21
Sam
May 5th, 2008 8:06 am

This one made my stomach growl :)
Good story.