Thanks to EP for the link to the Soup Nazi (there's so much of Seinfeld that I've missed, and I thought I had watched a lot of it). Thanks also to Seinfeld scripts for the image.
It’s all change at one of my local sandwich shops. It was innocuous enough at first, as they shifted the hot food counter from its position at the rear of the shop and installed it alongside the refrigerated baguette display cabinets. Long gone were the two North African lads who used to do the hot baguettes and baked potatoes, and this particular amendment was... all right I suppose, though it did seem to cause some queue confusion. Under the old regime, if you wanted hot food, you waited for the Maghreb to bag up your sandwich and then took it to the till for payment. This allowed the cold food customers to stream through, and although on occasion you might have to wait a little while with a slowly cooling baguette, it was generally all very amicable.
Then more alterations started to creep in. A younger lad was running the hot food counter, and the practice of writing customers’ orders on the white sandwich bags was begun; these being passed to the young lad for processing. At this stage, you would step out of the queue and wait until your order was ready, taking it the two steps or so to the till to pay. At last, this whole process became systematised to the point of obsession, so that the time before last I went in there, the bespectacled till jockey asked me to:
‘Step back from the counter, please sir.’
‘Sorry?’ I said
‘Step back please, until your order is ready.’ He had a hint of tetchiness in his voice, as if forgetting that my £2.10 for a baked spud with beans would be contributing to his rent at the end of the month. That was enough to put me off ordering any more jacket potatoes from there, as the ones at Simply Sandwiches were easily as good, and were also 10p cheaper. But – one innovation which I wholeheartedly endorse – they also do vegetarian sausage rolls. In wholemeal puff pastry. Lovely. I’m not sure what the ‘sausage’ is, and thinking about it, prefer to keep it that way, and in any case the thing costs only a paltry 50p, which – I’m sure you will agree – is a bargain of the first order. So I went through the ludicrous pantomime of asking the woman for the sausage roll, which she put in a bag and left on the counter. In front of me, another customer was asked:
‘Yes sir?’ to which he replied:
‘I’m being served, thanks.’
No!’ snapped the speccy till man, ‘What did you want?’
The customer – slightly aghast – repeated his order and paid, and then it was my turn.
‘Veggie sausage roll, please’ I said for the second time in a matter of 3 minutes, holding out a pound as I did so. Too late, I heard speccy say:
‘70p please’ and tap the till keys. I took the change from him and said:
‘It’s a veggie sausage roll.’ He was taken aback.
‘You said sausage roll...’ he replied. I frowned, and said a little more loudly:
‘It’s a VEGGIE sausage roll,’ At this, he sighed and muttered something about mistakes while he opened the till to give me the missing 20p. Later on, I found 50p on the floor.