Tag Archive: mild rant

Labels can be helpful if you’re shopping for clothing or food. If food companies are made to disclose the irradiated baby seal hearts they’re using as sausage filler on the label, that’s quite helpful for the irradiated baby seal heart intolerant. But political labels…pshaw. Yes, I said “pshaw,” and I don’t regret it. I’m tired of them and what they stand for.

I admittedly fall on the left side of the spectrum. I usually call myself a liberal. Some say “leftist.” Some say “lefty,” using the diminutive form with a sneer, as if you really make a cogent political point by adding that long-e sound, when what you really do is make yourself look like a puffed-up name-caller.

The problem with political labels—and what are the parties but the biggest brand-name labels?—is they elevate ideology above thought. Voters reflexively disparage their opposing labels, and politicians do stupid things to maintain their own labels. It’s part of the overall dumbing down of American politics. That said, I’m going to do some of my own dumbing down to make my point.

The Republicans lean so far to the right that if you went into a GOP convention and shouted “Free government cheese!” most of them would smash their foreheads on the right side of the door frames trying to flee the nanny state. And most of them would have stuffed their pockets with cheese.

The Democrats have moved so far over to compromise that most of them seem like also-ran Republicans. They still trumpet a few key planks from the platform so that you know they’re Democrats, but the notes they blow are shrill and random. They’re just all over the place, like a roomful of frightened cats with a lot of Hollywood friends.

The Libertarians stand smugly aside because they have actually convinced themselves that simply because they are not the other two parties that it means their self-serving nonsense is better than all the other self-serving nonsense. It’s like whooping cough congratulating itself for not being small pox or diphtheria.

There are other parties, but they tend toward the single issue. Like the Jeans That Fit Party, whose platform consists of demanding jeans that fit both a tubby midsection and stubby legs. I’m not a card-carrying member, but I did hand out flyers for them once.

I’m increasingly convinced our government would do better if it were selected from a playground. Take a group of kids playing well together and put them in office. That sense of fair play, kindness, and community would serve us well. We’d probably play nicer with the rest of the world, and we’d also get longer recesses and free pudding. That’s a win-win scenario.

So eff politics by label and catchphrase. I want to start the Nuanced Party. We’ll never win an election because our policy answers will be too long for sound bites. I’m going to launch the party by leading a march on Washington where we carry blank signs so that people have to really think about what should be on them.

But now I gotta go. I need to label my comic book storage boxes.


Which Wich. What . . . what?

So our neighborhood got a new sandwich shop chain, the somewhat cleverly/annoyingly named Which Wich. They advertise having over fifty customizable sandwiches (I refuse to say “wich” like they do), and it’s true, take a peek at their menu. Their shtick is that they have the menu printed on the bag your sandwich will go in. You’re supposed to grab a sandwich-specific bag from a rack on the wall–say, vegetarian–and then, using the provided Sharpies (Sharpies and paper bags…huff much?), choose which variety of vegetarian sandwich you want, perhaps caprese, and then also check off all the other customizable options: white or wheat, toasted or not, various condiments, veggies, etc. They’ve even got an employee stationed by the bags to guide newbies through the process. You turn this bag over to the cashier, she rings it up, hangs it in front of the sandwich makers, who work their wichcraft (sorry, couldn’t resist) and put the sandwich in the very bag you Sharpied up…it’s a souvenir with a sandwich inside!

Or not so much. We first approached via their website. The site’s a little counterintuitive: at first glance it’s all about the bags. Dudes, I’m on your website, I don’t have a freakin’ bag. Then we discovered that our location doesn’t take orders online anyway. Okay, we print out three fax order sheets–which also clearly say you can bring them into the store instead of faxing. (Besides, faxing? What is this, the twentieth century?) Half of the page has on outline in the shape of the bag, replicating the in-store experience. I’m starting to get the hang of it. The kid just wants a cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes and mayo. She checks off those ingredients on hers, but that leaves a big blank at the top that says “Which wich do you want?”

I remain annoyed by “wich” but that’s probably just me. “Maybe we should write in vegetarian?” I suggest.

“Why, it’s not like they’d put some random meat on there,” the kid says.

But I do so anyway, just to fill in the blank spot. It was bugging me, like not filling in an oval on the SATs. So then we fill out the other half of the page, which has beverages, chips, and cookies. Off I go. I head straight to the counter, past the suckers in line at the wall o’ bags. I hand over our orders. The cashier looks blankly at them for a second, and it seems clear she’s never seen one of these. To be fair, they did just open. She starts trying to reformat her bag training onto the pseudobag. Then she holds up my daughter’s order.

“What kind of vegetarian sandwich?” she says. “Caprese?”

“No, just the ingredients that she listed.”

“It says she wants vegetarian. We have caprese, hummus, black bean patty–”

I politely interrupt. “No, she just wants those ingredients listed.”

“But for vegetarian choices we have caprese, hummus, black bean patty–”

“She just wants the ingredients she listed. Forget that it says ‘vegetarian.’ Can’t we just get a sandwich with those ingredients?”

She calls someone over to confer. That person goes over to the wall o’ sandwich bags and brings me back a bag with “vegetarian” stamped at the top and hands it to me along with a Sharpie. She doesn’t seem to perceive that this just gets us back to where we were. It’s becoming all Sisyphean up in this place.

Meanwhile, a new guy comes over. I’ve now got three people puzzling out my cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes and mayo. But, silly kids, they’ve armed me with a Sharpie. As the new guy holds out the offending order slip, probably about to start repeating the vegetarian choices for me again, I reach across the counter and cross out “vegetarian.” 

“Let’s forget that,” I say. “Just make a sandwich with only the ingredients she checked off.”

The new guy looks at me and says–wait for it–“No meat?”

I shit you not. That’s what he said to me. “No, no meat,” I say. “That’s why I wrote ‘vegetarian.’ ”

But wait, there’s more. Now that we’ve got the sandwiches settled with the cashier, the new guy has folded all the orders in half, so only the bag outline is showing, and has hung them up for the sandwich makers. The cashier looks at me and says, “Any chips or beverages?”

“Uh, yeah . . . they were written on the order forms.” Cue SFX.

Well, we got that sorted and I got the food. I should say that the sandwiches were fine, and I’m sure our next ordering experience won’t be blogworthy–although I think I’ll just fill out the orders on the bags. Lastly, for those of you wondering, it turns out we should have just written “plain” at the top of that cheese sandwich order.