There is one McDonald’s location in Knoxville that I have vowed never to enter again. Most of the time when we are near a McDonald’s one my kids will say, “Daddy, can we go there?” When we are near this particular McDonald’s one of my kids will say, “That’s the McDonald’s Daddy hates.” I don’t normally get angry at restaurants, or any other inanimate object, but on one occasion I became so enraged as to how I was treated that I rent my clothes and covered my head in ashes, Leviticus-style. Then I went out and found an adulterer to stone.
I’ve never had the same feeling in a Subway restaurant. For some inexplicable reason, Subway soothes me. There is no need for Calgon to take me away–I’ll just go to Subway. And it appears that this might be the case for many others. Subways are normally quiet with people calmly meandering up to the counter covered with curved glass, casually ordering their sandwiches, and moving on down the line in an orderly fashion. I was pretty sure that no one ever got angry at Subway, until the other day. That is when I saw a man almost lose it because of what appeared to be a misunderstanding.
If he would have reacted this way because mayonnaise was added to his sandwich, I would have understood. If I had x-ray vision, I would use it to determine if a sandwich is mayonnaise-free before taking a big bite out of it. I’m not quite sure what his issue was, but he was vehemently angry. I saw him grab his food, stalk over to his table, slam his seat back, plop down, and attack his sandwich using small, vicious bites in order to torture it as much as possible. He even drank his drink angrily, gulping down large quantities and then holding the cup away from him to stare at it with disgust.
That’s when I did the only logical thing I could think of–I brainstormed about something that doesn’t matter. As a result, here are a few ways to improve Subway:
1. Produce a less smelly meatball. I am convinced that the reason most people get food from Subway to go is that they don’t want to end of smelly like meatballs. I am also beginning to think that the meatball smell may be slowly impacting our behavior. Pavlov’s dogs heard a bell and began drooling; some people smell meatballs and become obnoxious. Surely someone is busy researching this.
2. Play more Kenny Rogers songs. When I entered Subway on the day of the afore-mentioned occurrence, Kenny Rogers was singing about how you’ve got to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. If I wasn’t in the mood for a Subway sandwich upon entering, I sure was after hearing his velveteen voice.
3. Hire a Jared Fogle look-a-like for every location. I can’t think of a better way to remind people that they made a healthy choice than by giving them a living reminder of the fat guy that got skinny by eating at Subway. Sadly, the Subway diet doesn’t work if you eat a meatball sub every day.
4. Make if feel more like a real, New York City subway. Confession: I have never been on a real subway. In spite of that, there are a few things that I think doing this would entail–a weird guy looking at you while you eat, someone peeing in a corner, a group of sullen teenagers with ear-buds in their ears texting each other instead of talking, and someone breakdancing.
5. Make a bigger deal about employees being “sandwich artists.” Make them all wear berets and act like divas. Have them constantly complain about a lack of motivation. Make all the men grow a soul patch and all the women have hair under their arms. Give them a bonus if they make a sandwich that no one understands yet everyone loves.
Why did I choose to brainstorm about how to improve Subway and not how to improve myself? I have learned that the best way to improve myself is by not focusing on improving myself, but to focus on God and his glory. As I do that, the Holy Spirit works in me to make me more like Jesus. This sets me free from the bondage of always beating myself up for not being perfect. While I don’t do this all of the time, I am learning to rely more and more on God and less and less on myself.
Maybe one day I’ll improve so much that I will be able to forgive the McDonald’s that I disdain and go back there again. But I doubt it.
(What other ways could Subway be improved? Have you ever been so aggravated by a restaurant that you refused to return? How is God leading you to improve? Share away!)