“I’m sorry Ma’am, we’re out of Ranch.”
I had officially become Ma’am, right there, in line at Subway. The official restaurant of former athletes everywhere.
“Is there another dressing you would like?”
I thought about this for a moment or two, in no contemplative rush. I wanted to get this right, so I was okay to let my thoughts linger.
“I think I’ll try the Chipotle mayo,” I said, finalizing my decision.
“Oh, great choice. The Chipotle mayo is nice. It’s got the chipotle kick and a spicy mayo flavor. Really great combo,” said the teenager behind the counter.
I was startled by her enthusiasm for the dressing. It certainly wasn’t expected, but even more–she had gone so far as to explain what it tasted like, assuming I hadn’t tried it before. Ever. In an instant, I realized that my word choice in try — “I think I’ll try…” — is what gave her the context clues that prompted her Chipotle mayo expertise. I didn’t mind it. But it did make me realize that the meaning she derived from my statement isn’t what I meant at all. I had failed on the communications front, however minor it was.
Because I had, in fact, tried the Chipotle mayo before. I’m familiar with its flavors, and I enjoy it. So the time I took to make my thoughtful decision had nothing to do with the Chipotle mayo itself; it had everything to do with what I was putting it on: a buffalo chicken six inch on honey oat with lettuce, tomato and provolone. Typically, Ranch works wonders here. But I just wasn’t sure how the Chipotle mayo would fair.
Regardless of the worker’s recommendation to go for it, this simple moment made me think about the concept of decision-making in general. Sometimes you have the facts already in place. You know certain truths to exist. They are the buffalo chicken, lettuce and tomato of our worlds. And the extras, the luxuries, the niceties can be altered depending on mood, feeling or even absence. Of course, we try to maximize these experiences to whatever their full potential may be — a fully belly, perhaps. But maybe it’s all relative. Maybe the idea of the making the most of out something, even something as simple as a sandwich, has nothing to do with squeezing the flavor out of a bottle, but instead how things work together. And, being able to clearly express your past experiences, starting with the lede rather than burying it. Yes, Miss, I’ve already had the Chipotle mayo and it’s fantastic. But I’m just not sure this is what I want today with this meal.
It eliminates the chance of being led astray, down a path you half-heartedly committed to–for the sake of others standing behind you. Even if you’ve tried something before, it doesn’t mean you want it this time around. Gosh, the decisions that yearn for something different. And the reasons behind making them. For me, it wasn’t about the Chipotle mayo by itself. It was about how well it seasoned everything else.
I did not clarify this to the Miss behind the counter. It wasn’t important. Besides, I was hungry. And everything tastes good when your hungry.