Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Several years ago, you may recall that I lived in a burned out trailer, went for a week without a crumb to eat, and was half-mad from trying to be an Independent Ceramic Tile Contractor. I believe my exact words were “I didn’t care if I ever worked again for the rest of my life”.
Part of what saved me was going to work for a lower wage than I had made in 20 Subway Sandwiches. I remember going in and telling the manager:
‘I was a Chef for 20 years and I got burned out and swore I would never work Foodservice here I am!”
She laughed and hired me anyway.
Well I nearly went all the way broke down doing that too, but at least I didn’t go without a crumb or morsel to eat.
And I had the time of my life.
All the young girls would tell me I was the “best Subway Guy Ever” ...and all the Middle aged women admired my youthful exuberence and all the lil' ol' ladies...well, what lil’ ol lady can resist me, a Mothers Day Baby?....I know food and people so well that I could predict what sandwich a person would want when they walked in the door.
Did I mention that I am hilarious and always in a good mood?

I started out to write about one thing but I am going to write about some thing else. It took me 40 years to learn what I was able to confirm at Subway.
For most of my life I didn’t give a good Got-Damn if anyone liked me or not. Somewhere along the way I fairly succeeded in running most of my friends off with this winning attitude.
I discovered that it is important what other people think of you. If it wasn’t, then what the hell are we here for?
From there I discovered another thing.... it makes it much easier for someone to like you if they think you like them. Which translates to... its important that other people think you like them... so...its important to find a reason to like other people!
For some of you, this may not be Earth-Shattering news, but for this cranky ol’ chef, it was a revelation.
I found, working At the Subway, just how easy it is to completely turn someones day around just by being excited to see them. And how good it feels to have someone walk in the door, them hoping you would be there and excited and relieved that you were. When a little ol’ lady would come in and have on an ugly lookin’ brooch, I would comment on how lovely it truly was and the story would come out:
“My Mother was given this brooch by my Father 70 years ago on their second date. They were married right before the War and Momma lost this brooch while Daddy was overseas and it was missing for 20 years until the day we buried my brother. Daddy found it in an old Suit of his and Momma remembered putting it there while she held the suit one night, on June 6, 1944. I wear it all the time, but you are the first one to ask about it”.

To think I had thought that brooch ugly....there are things at work in peoples lives we know nothing about and they all deserve a little more attention than what we sometimes take the time to give.
“I wear it all the time, but you are the first to ask about it”

I was at that Subway shop two weeks ago, and I have a really good job these days, but the Manager asked if I would work for her some because she has a really suck-ass crew and needed someone really bad.
So I have been working for 6.50 an hour (and a Sandwich!) during the evenings and spreading as much cheer as possible and these memories have come back to me. It has been a delight. i had forgotten just how much I really do like people.

"So, how many cookies would you like today?"


Dave said...

Stevie Ray -

You should add this to your "sometimes you win" section... This post works!

I underwent a similar transformation to yours over the last five years or so. I still don't go out of my way to make people like me--and I still don't give a good God-Damn if a certain individual doesn't like me for some reason--but I do try to be likeable which is quite a change from when I was in my twenties. I try to be just a bit warmer and a bit more interested in how other people are doing. Of course, the real benefit of changing my behavior in this way is that I like myself better. The fact that others seem to like me better is a side benefit that I've also come to really enjoy. Good post!


Oh yeah, and I'll have a BMT with everything--tons of hot mustard!

nothing said...

"But I don't think of you."

GEWELS said...

Stevie-Ray? Hmmm, sounds like a musician I was just listening to in the car.

Oh, anyway, I actually spent most of my life caring if other people liked me. Now that I am older I realize that if they don't it's more their problem.
That being said, I think it is so easy to brighten someone's day either with a nice gesture, kind words, a compliment, or just a nod and a smile to a stranger.
I will constantly compliment a stranger on something- their clothes, their height, their shoes (always their shoes). I know how nice it makes me feel to have someone say something nice. And, it make me happier knowing I have made someone smile.

Now that I don't really obsess over if someone likes me or not I find that more people do. Ironic, isn't it?

P.S. What happened to RDG?

Mother of Invention said...

What a sweetie you are at heart and I find it hard to believe that you were once crusty but I know that life events can make a person that way.

I echo you and gewels in saying that I find it easy to take an interest in people and making an effort to make them feel special. This becomes 2nd nature when you've worked with kids for so long. All the kids in my classes always loved coming into the classroom each day since it was a warm, fuzzy place with a family spirit!

steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve said...

yeah Davy, i guess it runs in the family....just like being too nice must be tempered, so must the fiercely independent Egoist be tempered as well!
'Would you like that on the Italian Herb and Cheese w/ Mozzarella and lotsa Black Olives? Yumm!"

nothing- I think of you a lot and think a lot of you and I know that it doesn't make much difference either way- you may recall Hank and Dagny realized that when someone "liked " them , then that person became more "likeable"....anyone who admired Hank was by nature Hanks kind of man.

gewels- I am glad you found yourself- my friend "nothing" would tell you its not as Ironic as much as it is a recognition of that which is real. I'm as glad that you found your indifference as I am glad I found some manners.

Mom- It was more just a manner of learning better manners and not being qwuite so full of myself... people can get full of themselves you know.

GrizzBabe said...

Wow. You learned all that from Subway? I'd say that was a pretty valuable life experience.

I think predicting what kind of sub your commenters would order would make a fun post. Okay, maybe it would just be fun for me.

nothing said...

I know, I was trying to be funny in a way you would understand.

steve said...

hey Nothin', check out my Genius nephew Dave, who really nailed both sides of the deal in his comment!
"Of course, the real benefit of changing my behavior in this way is that I like myself better."
Is he good or what?

Old Lady said...

I still have issues with caring about what people think about me. I had to not care, because I cared too much.