Jimmy John's created a PR campaign for customer appreciation day when they handed out 1$ sandwiches. My little brother Griffin can eat, like, I'm not sure how it's humanly possible but the kid can put it away.
Anyway, my brother sent my Grumpy Dad to pick him up said sandwich and of course, as usual chaos ensued.
My 16-year-old son texted from Chemistry class at 10 A.M. I wasn’t doing much at the time—just working on chapter 12 of my latest novel and chunking a pineapple (that’s the act of slicing a raw pineapple and cutting the pieces into chunks).
“Go to Jimmy John’s between 11 and 3,” he wrote. “Subs for a dollar.”
Thankful that of the two main desires of teenage boys, his desire for food seems stronger at this point, I agreed to make the seven-mile drive to Independence. I had to go to the bank anyway, and I was mad at the ladies in the Brecksville branch because I had sent my son there to collect a ten-dollar bill I had dropped on the floor on my way out a few days earlier and they wouldn’t give it to him, so I’d been using the Independence branch lately—and it was on the way to Jimmy John’s.
I arrived at the strip of businesses located at Rockside Road and Highway 21 at about 11:40. Traffic was thick. I had forgotten to ask why subs were only a dollar. I assumed it was because the Cavaliers had beaten the Pistons the night before in game two of their first-round playoff series, but that was kind of dumb because a promotion like that would be for people who had attended the game and showed up with a ticket stub. Right?
A parking space came open just as I pulled into the small lot. I stepped out of my Buick and turned to see a line of about seventy-five people.
“Of course,” I thought. “Most of Ohio would burn two bucks worth of gas and waste an hour to buy a sandwich for a dollar.”
There was a sign across the top of the façade explaining the dollar sandwich deal: NATIONAL CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY, APRIL 20.
A Jimmy John’s employee (who was about to be tortured and unappreciated twice as much as usual for the next four hours) came out to take orders.
“It’s one sandwich per customer,” he warned.
“My son wants a LuLu with onions—whatever that is,” I said.
“Sorry. The LuLu isn’t one of the menu items available for a dollar,” he said.
I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t disappointed. I’m 58 years old and internet savvy (pretty much). I receive dozens of emails per day promising free laptops and vacations. I know they’re never free. I delete those emails without reading them. I’m no dupe.
“Of the available items, which is closest to being a LuLu?” I asked.
“That would be a number four,” he said. Turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise.”
“Can you put some onions on that free of charge?” I asked, knowing that my son had recently developed his mother’s taste for them.
“Absolutely. Number four with onions,” said the young man.
I found it odd that he wasn’t out there trying to sell anything else. The profit margin on soda and chips and such is enormous.
I thought he should have been hawking items that would offset the sandwich deal. But that’s just me. The kid must have figured if these people wanted sodas and chips they’d order sodas and chips.
After all, who’d be standing in line for an hour at Jimmy John’s if they weren’t part of the soda-drinking, chip-eating army of Ohioans that happily marches from McDonald’s to Burger King to Pizza Hut to Long John Silver’s to Five Guys to an early grave.
“My son texted me from Chemistry class to get him a sandwich,” I said to the 19-ish girl who was standing with her mother behind me.
“And you did it?”
“Guess I’ve got too much time on my hands,” I reasoned.
The line had moved to the door. I was holding it open as a female employee shouted from the counter, “Form two lines once you’re inside!”
“Crap!” I said aloud, turning to the 19-ish girl and her mother. “I always choose the wrong line. You’d do well to go opposite of me.”
The mother laughed. “You, too?”
We decided to go in opposite directions so that one of us could break our jinx. I knew it wouldn’t be me.
Ten minutes later, I glanced across the room and saw them grab their sandwiches from the counter. They walked out, smiling. They didn’t wave or anything. At least they didn’t gloat. There were still five people between me and my counter. Wrong line—of course.
When I reached the counter, the young lady behind it punched a button or two on the cash register and said, “One dollar.”
“No tax?” I asked.
“No tax,” she said.
“Why not?” I asked, as if I’d been cheated.
“Couldn’t tell you,” she said.
“Maybe it’s because they couldn’t figure out how to collect the point seven-five of the seven point seven-five percent per dollar.”
“Maybe,” she said, not listening.
I handed over my dollar and moved to the left, where another kid was wrapping my number four. When he slapped it on the counter, I felt empty. I grabbed it and walked out thinking there should have been something more at the end of the experience—some sort of certificate of participation or something.
I drove past the line, which now extended to the back of the building and down the alley to the sidewalk in front of Highway 21. Good thing I got here early, I thought. There must have been two hundred people with nothing better to do than wait in line to pay a dollar for a five-dollar sub.
I was halfway home with my number four when my son texted, “Are you bringing it here?”
“I can,” I replied.
“No cheese, though?” he wrote.
“No. It didn’t come with cheese.”
“Can you stop home and put some cheese on it, then bring it here at 1:45?”
“WTF son! Maybe I’ll just eat it.”
“My whole day is being consumed by this sandwich!” I wrote.
“Ok. I’ll come home and eat it before baseball practice,” he relented.
“That sounds better,” I wrote. “You can put some cheese on it. I need this adventure to end.”
I drove home and continued writing fiction that wasn’t stranger than real life.
I'm dying, aren't you?
Did you participate in Jimmy John's 1$ sandwiches?