“Two slices of the Low-Sodium, Slightly-Glazed Virgina Ham cut as thin as possible without being shaved, please. I’d like a sample first, though” the man requested. With his face pressed up against the glass case, he looked up and added “I’d also like to sample the Horseradish Maple Swiss Cheese with the pimento particles stuffed inside it. Make it slightly thicker than the ham. I want a slice from the middle of the loaf, though. The ends never taste fresh. Don’t put it away, either. If I like it, I’ll have 3 slices of that one. Thanks.” Thus began my afternoon at the delicatessen.
Ultimately, my anal-retentive friend rejected the sample’s flavor and molecular density. He browsed and pondered at his leisure before requesting another elaborately detailed cut of lunch meat. The line lengthened, stomachs grumbled and watches were checked for missed appointments. Yet, the man stood shamelessly collecting separate baggies each containing a few slivers of meat or cheese. Granted, I’m not highly educated. I possess no degree or title in lunchmeat connoisseurship. Yet, I couldn’t help thinking that if I was going to buy just enough meat for one sandwich, I would buy… hmmm… let me see… oh, I know… a fucking sandwich! Clearly though, Mr. Slice was indeed well-versed in the deli-arts and intended on building an edible masterpiece on his own terms. I could only assume that he would stop at the bakery to calibrate their ovens before purchasing one small hand-picked hoagie roll.
One of the most obnoxious activities witnessed at the deli counter has to be the incessant sampling of every meat block and cheese log under the glass. It’s not the Pepsi Challenge, dude, you don’t need to taste ‘em all. I say, roll the dice and buy a pound. If it tastes like an unwiped ass, just induce vomiting and hope it tastes better on the way back up. Besides, at least half of those sample-grubbers are just trying to get a free lunch while standing in line. Most people buy the same damn cold cuts every week, anyway. They already know what the Spicy Rat’s Ass tastes like and don’t need to nibble on a chunk while rolling their eyes around in debate over the purchase. The deli clerk should recognize these repeat offenders, deny them samples and send them to the end of the line with a pepperoni stick up their backside.
My turn at the deli counter is much more streamlined. I order deli meat with a great degree of certainty. “Genoa Salami, one pound, the good stuff” I bark, as my fist strikes the counter like a gavel springing my pastrami pal into action. Simple and straightforward, no clarification is required. This malarkey about the thickness of the cut is just another example of American culture gone berserk. In other parts of the world, people have to hunt and kill their own olive loaf each day before lunch. I just couldn’t, in good conscience, stand there and demand that my Hickory Squirrel Loaf be exactly 12mm in girth. If it was that damned important, I’d carry digital micro-calipers to the deli to gauge each slice for accuracy. Quite frankly, I don’t have the fucking time. Ballpark estimates work just fine for such trivialities. The Cheddar Chief behind the counter needs to take the customer’s preference out of the equation and use common sense. If the ham is sliced so thin that I could trace the funnies through it or mistake it for toilet paper, you might want to beef things up a bit. On the other hand, if the Smoked Bull Wanker is so thick that it could smother a large child, you can probably shave it down a few notches. As far as I’m concerned, anywhere in between those two extremes should just be fine for everybody. So, lock down that adjustment knob, Baloney Boy, and keep the line moving, please!