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Re: Incident

At 12.42 pm Mr. David Ang was admitted to the Western General Hospital with a slice of cucumber lodged in his throat. It is believed the cucumber was sliced approximately 0.06 inches thicker than the usual 0.3 trade standard, and that a series of cucumbers with abnormal circumferences (6.75 in) were used in up to 237 packets in Easy Sandwich’s ‘Green is Good’ range. This range also includes the Lettuce in Your Mouth veggie wraps and the Halal Salad-Falafel alternative. An internal investigation is currently underway at our Glasgow Govan plant, authorised by foreman William Green. If it is proven the cucumber was over the EU limit for placement in commercial sandwiches, Mr. Ang has grounds for litigation. If his medical scans show an abnormal oesophagus, or problems with phlegmatic blockage, the company can prove its sandwiches were designed for standard throats and settle out of court.

Yolenze gets his sandwiches in the hospital branch of WH Smith’s, or the WH Smith, or (the) W.H. Smith(’s), whichever is correct, he doesn’t know—and nor do I. It’s easier and quieter to take the side entrance to the hospital than to walk down the street, wait at the traffic lights, and queue at the baker’s. Yolenze has lunch between 12.50-1.20 pm on weekdays and so do all the builders working in the area. They talk in grunts and always want a cream bun at the last minute. He’s an effete man, Yolenze. He’s not comfortable being that close to brawny butch blokes—nor am I. He’s comfortable lunching in the hospital despite having to pass smokers at the entrance, and those awkward moments when he’s stuck behind someone wheeling slowly down the corridor who won’t let him past without first squeezing him into the wall. But if he can get into the Easy Sandwich kiosk and get his Lemon Chorizo Masterpiece, he’s a contented Yolenze. (Me, I make my own lunches. I’m a poor student.)

What do our customers want from a sandwich? Do they want soggy, floppy breads? Mayo that spurts out at first bite? Lettuce all hanging out the side like a spinster’s cunny hair? Do they want hard cheese, salty salami, stringy ham? Hmm? Let me answer for you. No. Our customers want precision sandwich engineering. They want soft white breads. They want to lift up the crusts and see one Picasso of a sandwich. Two slices of luxury ham draped in an elegant configuration. Tomato placed at equidistant points, like stars in the cosmos. And a sheaf of fresh lettuce, wet and soft like a hot babe’s cunny. Everything about this sandwich should say, ‘Devour me! Eat me!’ Got that?

I started work at the processing plant last June. I was lucky to get the gig—I know folks who’ve been on the dole for six months now. It’s tough out there. One guy I know killed himself because he was sacked from Burger World. That’s harsh. Anyway: I was given pink overalls to wear and taken into the plant where I was put on batch processing duties. This means looking at sandwiches on a production line, checking for dents, loose lettuce, insects or smells. We’re allowed to eat imperfect sandwiches for our lunch (I was on egg and cress duty that day, being a newbie) or take them home. It’s boring. Sandwich. Sandwich. Sandwich. Dented sandwich. Etcetera.

After two weeks, I started to think about suicide. I wondered what sandwich deaths were open to me. I could suffocate myself inside a panini. Or a double-decker beef and chilli special. Failing that I could gorge on all the unwanteds and blow my gut. Fortunately, odd things started happening. Read: interesting. I noticed more sandwiches with tails. Rat and cheese. Rat and cress. Chicken mayonnaise with added rat. Someone had sabotaged a day’s worth of sandwiches by planting a rat inside each one. 

I later learned from Trish in the office that Old Davie, who’d worked in the plant for forty years, had inserted the rats because the company refused to pay him a full pension. Apparently, he’d let five contaminated sandwiches go undetected over four decades, which was twice the minimum (2.5) before pension privileges were denied. He’d spent his last month hunting and killing rats, then brought his kills to the plant to exact his revenge. Davie was a hero in the factory. We called him Davie the Earl (of Sandwich). 

I hate packaged sandwiches. I hate the smell, the taste, the feel. I’d rather boil my own shoes for lunch. 

Re: Re: Incident

The scans show that Mr. Ang’s oesophagus is a perfect specimen. The doctor said his throat is the most expandable he’s ever seen, and he’s seen a Burmese python. It accepts one third of a steak, whole slices of bread, half a carton of yoghurt . . . all inserted directly, simultaneously, down the throat. This being the case, Mr. Ang has grounds for litigation. Our claim that the cucumber slices were 0.06 inches thicker than the trade standard, when in fact the slices were 5.32 inches larger than our original estimate, makes him entitled to an enormous percentage of our annual profits. Unless our lawyers can prove Mr. Ang is a freak who has no business eating our products, I suggest he meets with an “accident” soon after his release: perhaps contact that discreet Bolivian agency and arrange a suitable hit-and-run incident near Mr. Ang’s home?

Yolenze, two weeks after he started his Lemon Chorizos, noticed green speckles on his thighs. Being effete, he shaves his body hair regularly to keep his skin pink and soft, so finds these things immediately. He asked me (I’m a student doctor) what I thought. I couldn’t say. He went straight to a qualified doctor who guessed candida or chicken pox. Meanwhile, he kept eating his daily Lemon Chorizo, oblivious to its effects. He had no idea the sandwich was to blame, and nor did I (I was a little scared, to be honest, it was contagious). One morning he woke to find his skin dark green from head to toe, like the Jolly Green Giant. Well, poor Yolenze flipped! He went straight to the doctor, who sent him straight to the hospital. The scans revealed a poisonous chemical in his bloodstream: a diexoreum sulphate, commonly used in toilet cleaners. Yolenze had been eating a Lemon & Domestos Chorizo sandwich. No one else had turned green, since no else ate that flavour: it was soon discontinued. (I guess the toilet chemical had more to do with that than the unpopularity of the flavour, but who knows?) Meanwhile, Yolenze was getting sicker and sicker. One morning he coughed up his pelvis. That was one unhappy Yolenze.

You might have noticed various product placements in these mini-narratives. It’s hard for a writer these days to write “realistic prose” (stories that attempt, with little stylistic effort, to depict behaviour the writer considers representative of his time and place) without referring to the hundreds of products and companies that control our lives. And now it’s become a common trope to embed product names into the prose as form of hypermodern realism or postmodern satire. As with everything in literature, it’s an old story. What if, however, it’s my intention to promote all the fine products and companies in these mini-narratives? If I do so brazenly because I adore them? You’ll notice all the products shown in a negative light are imaginary. If this were my intention, to advertise inside this unconventional, unpopulist piece of fiction, would you be appalled? Do you even know why you’d be appalled? If you trot out that old binary, art v. commerce, ask yourself this: what, precisely, is the distinction nowadays? And does it even matter? And would you care for a delicious Subway baguette with extra ham?

We’re not selling sandwiches. We’re selling time. Piece of mind. We’re selling the most memorable goddamn bite a person can take that ain’t teenage cunny. It’s our goal to make sandwiches so tasty, the customer salivates just thinking about them. Like teenage cunny. I want the Easy Sandwich brand to become the number one supplier of sealed sandwiches in the whole goddamn universe. If an astronaut goes into space and wants a snack, I want a zero gravity ham and cheese at his disposal. I want people to go to sleep and dream of our coronation chicken with tomato. Brides at the altar stuffing their faces with an egg salad before the vows. I want couples shagging with our cheese and chive specials hanging out their mouths. I want Brad Pitt on his knees, writhing a pit of our tikka masala and onion! Easy Sandwich isn’t only a sandwich. It’s a way of being. It’s life itself. So, go out there. Sell those sandwiches. As counter interface operatives, you are our link between the mouths and a world of pure sandwich happiness. Make it happen. Give the sandwiches meaning. Let us actualise our dreams. 

— What is the last sandwich you bought?
— Ham.
— How did it taste?
— Boring. 
— Could you make a better sandwich at home?
— Yeah.
— Are packaged sandwiches overpriced?
— Yeah.
— What do you think this piece is about?
— The packaged sandwich as an emblem for the dullness and disappointment of our corporatized world. 
— Did that need explaining?
— Probably. 
— Do you think the reader, at this point, has a craving for a sandwich?
— I do.
— Is it because of those little sandwich doodles, or the word sandwich appearing every few minutes?
— Sandwich sandwich sandwich.
— Yes, exactly.
— Ham. Cheese. Lettuce. Salami. Make one now. Go, make one. The world can wait.

Re: Re: Re: Incident

We have a problem. Seeing this might be construed a “crisis” situation, I will keep my summaries brief. First: Mr. Ang didn’t die. The Bolivians ran him over nine times, but he has prosthetic legs made of quartz. Next: we have, somehow, released four hundred batches of sandwiches into the marketplace with rats as fillings. A disgruntled worker known as ‘Davie the Earl’ started the trend and angry sandwich checkers across the country followed suit. Something about low wages and pensions. And finally: some sort of Communist uprising has swept the country, crushing the bourgeois superstructure, passing the means of production to the workers. If I may speak freely for a moment. You once taught me, sir, to respect the integrity of the sandwich. Our core values: munchability, deliciousness, yummification, well—I have lived with these values for ten years. I will fight this. I will do anything for Easy Sandwich Ltd. It is my calling. My destiny. If I can take a bullet to save us, sir, I will. Godspeed. 

So, at last, we end with Yolenze’s fate. Poor, poor Yolenze! Who’d have thought biting into a Lemon Chorizo sandwich would lead to scrofula? Here’s what happened. Yolenze wasn’t sure what a “chorizo” was.  So when he bit into the rat inside his sandwich, he thought it a little unusual. But the spices, the peppers, the flavouring took over. It was delicious, really. I know you don’t buy this. But listen: how many more packaged sandwiches must we guzzle down? How much more wasteful excess can we take as a species? How many more packs can we toss in the garbage, unwanted salmon and peach specials pulped and repackaged into more unwanted salmon and peach specials? Do you really care, or would you like a bacon and semen special from our ‘It’s Only Natural’ range? I’m telling you now and I’m telling you this: think before you munch.


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