Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sandwich "Artist?"

Do I really have to call the guy who makes my Subway sandwich an “artist?”  I suppose one could argue that there is an art to making a really great sandwich.  But a sandwich artist?  The whole notion of ‘art’ really stems from something called ‘inspiration.’  And, let’s be honest, nothing is inspiring these people to make my sandwich other than my telling them what I want on it and their desire for a paycheck.  

The mere fact that I’m telling them exactly what I want on my sandwich completely debunks the perception that they are artists in the first place.  They are making absolutely no decisions on their own.  No one told Da Vinci exactly how they wanted the Sistine Chapel painted.  I mean, they may have had an idea about what they wanted, but the art itself was pretty much left to the dude with the brush.  As for the person making my sandwich, sorry.  You’re not an artist.  If anything, I’m the artist because I’m the one making all the decisions.  

Even then, I don’t get to make all of the decisions.  Because all I say is, “I want turkey,” and you put the requisite four slices on my footlong.  You didn’t even get to decide how much turkey to use and, really, neither did I.  Somebody in a franchise meeting a few years ago decided that four slices of turkey was going to be the standard and that was that.  So then, even I’m not a sandwich artist.  I’m more of a designer and you are a general sandwich contractor.  No, that doesn’t even work because you didn’t even bid to make my sandwich.  I just happened to come into your store and you happened to be the one to take my order.  And I’m not much of a designer either since I don’t get to choose the amount of ingredients nor the order in which they are added to my sandwich.  So, no, you are not an artist.  I refuse to call you an artist.  You make sandwiches.  You don’t need a fancy title or a clever name.  That’s just a bs way to make you feel better about your crappy job.  

It’s the same way I feel about calling the kid who makes my coffee a “barista.”  Just because they give you a job title in Italian doesn’t change the fact that you make coffee and warm up prepackaged pastries.  The janitor in my wife's office building isn't even a janitor.  He's the "Day Porter."  What the what?  What the hell is a "Day Porter?"  They clean the restrooms, empty the trash, vacuum the carpets.  So ... they're freakin' janitors!  Maybe if we called these jobs what they actually were, people would have a bit more motivation to strive for something better instead of lying to themselves that they have a good job.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking these jobs.  They are necessary and they require good, honest people doing good, honest work.  I respect that.  It's a good place to start.  But people are less likely to want to move up and out of these entry-level jobs when you call them something fancier than they are.  There are some advantages, however, to giving these crappy jobs fancy names.  A "day porter" is more likely to get a better job interview than a "janitor."  A "barista" is more likely to pick up the hot chick at the end of the bar than a "coffee maker."  And a "sandwich artist" is more likely to ... to ... apply to be a barista.


  1. I completely agree that everyone should always strive to achieve more than their current position.
    However, it could be argued that this is the same concept as calling all Disney Parks workers "cast members." Realistically, each Disney Park, land, and attraction is a miniature, live, interactive improv theater. Cast members pretend along with guests and buy into the "story" they are telling, which makes guests believe. Well, they're supposed to do this anyway. The big catch with this is that "cast member" is a general title, and each "role" has its own separate title, which are usually not glorified in anyway. Custodian CMs, Food & Beverage CMs, and Merchandise CMs don't feel glorified by the title of their role, but HOW their role fits into the bigger picture, which is why there is a huge difference between this and baristas and sandwich artists. It's not glorifying the role; it's glorifying the purpose of the role. Yes, I did just spend an entire paragraph arguing with myself.

    P.S. Michelangelo = Sistine Chapel. Not sure if that was supposed to be an ironic statement, but figured I'd point it out anyway.

  2. I hate to nitpick, but:
    Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.
    And the pope told him several times what to do. Mike just didn't exactly listen.