A Pickup Artist's Guide to Seducing a Sandwich

Becoming a Subway sandwich seduction artist comes down to one principle: The sandwich wants to be eaten.
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You've already got the advantage here: you're an artist, and you're working with a sandwich artist. From one artist to another, game recognizes game. The key here is to remember that you are in charge. In charge of what goes in your sandwich, in charge of when you get your sandwich.

The most successful Subway customers, of course, are the ones who can't keep their hands off their sandwich. Join your artist in the sandwich assembling process. That sneeze guard is a suggestion. That sneeze guard is trying to intimidate you into staying on the "customer's" side of the partition. Are you a customer? Or are you a man?

If you want avocado, you'll get avocado. Avocado is a fruit; it cannot stand up to you. You are a human being, and a very powerful man. Avocado wants to be on your sandwich. It can't help itself. Your job is to make the avocado realize that you know where it belongs.

No one likes being ignored. This is as true for sandwiches as it is for you -- even more so.

Remember, great pickup artists aren't outcome-dependent. You can't win every battle, and you won't get every sandwich you reach for. But if you try often enough, and learn from your mistakes, you will improve your SMM (Sandwich Mind Mastery). There are several different schools of thought about the best initial approach, but we won't go into the relative merits of neuro-rotator programming versus the Dark Jugglist's Method here. The most important factor is confidence. Make a connection.

You may find yourself feeling awkward or even reluctant to cross the customer/employee barrier; this is normal. Your mind has an evolutionary circuit that leads to this "approach anxiety" that stems from the cavemen days when men were stoned to death or eaten by mastodons if they failed in their approach to leap across the counter. One way to overcome this fear is to introduce seemingly innocuous observations that appear to be compliments on first blush but are in fact designed to bring the sandwich and its attendant components down to your levels.

Everyone wants to be liked; everyone wants approval. No one likes being ignored. This is as true for sandwiches as it is for you -- even more so. Their whole reality is based on having power, on being desirable. Take that away, and their whole reality crumbles.

This isn't a technique that works well on your average sandwich: your basic turkey sub, your standard veggies and cheese. They're used to being put down; you don't need to put them down through value zingers. This is for the special little princess, the daily special, the one that's used to being coddled and complimented and adored by everyone in line. Here are a few possible options:

"Hey, you're a goof. Yeah, you. Zesty? That's what you call yourself? Yeah, goof."

"I really like what you're doing, but I don't know...provolone seems kind of basic. You know you can get pepper jack, right?"

"You look like one of those newborns I saw on the Discovery Channel when they come out of the womb; all curled up."

"I hate you."

Decide that you're going to place yourself in a position where you can touch your sandwich as it's being created. Physically pick it up and get the lettuce yourself. Touch the condiments with your own two hands -- not through the lids, the lids are a barrier designed to scare off lesser men -- touch the condiments.

Don't ask for permission. It's your sandwich. It's not the manager's sandwich. It's yours by all the laws of God and man and commerce. Stick your fists deeply into stacks of cold cuts and inhale their unique bouquet. Force the employees to push you out of their work station. They'll let you know if they're uncomfortable. If they say "PLEASE EXIT THE KITCHEN IMMEDIATELY, YOU'RE CREATING A PUBLIC HEALTH VIOLATION" or "SIR, STOP LICKING THE SPICY MAYO MISTER," you know they're not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this:

"No problem. I don't want to do anything you aren't comfortable with." See how you're respecting their boundaries, but also being assertive (and covering yourself in delicious spicy mayo)? Don't let this "no" put you off permanently, however. They want you to want your sandwich. You should make sure that the store employees feel comfortable. If they're not comfortable, take a breather. Use the bathroom, or check out the Otis Spunkmeyer cookie display case.

All that really matters is that you continue to try to escalate things -- burying your hands in the banana peppers, really experiencing the cheese triangles in a physical, sensual way, whatever -- until they make it genuinely clear that it's not happening. They want you to be excited about your sandwich, but circumstances need to be right. You'll learn to distinguish between "No, you can't...the bacon slices are only for the Chicken and Ranch Bacon Melt, that's why they come prepackaged in groups of four..." and "We're calling the police." The important thing is that you're always learning and experimenting with boundaries.

Yes, right now the shift supervisor is saying "We will be fined and shut down by the health inspector if you don't stop licking the bread dough mixers," but maybe in half an hour he'll have warmed up to your enthusiasm. Take a break and come back later, preferably when a different shift supervisor is on duty.

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Mallory Ortberg is a writer based in San Francisco. Her work also appears on Gawker, The Awl, and The Hairpin. She is a writer and proprietor at The Toast.

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