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Author Topic: Pseudopod 81: It’s Easy to Make a Sandwich  (Read 8461 times)

Russell Nash

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on: March 15, 2008, 09:27:03 AM
Pseudopod 81: It’s Easy to Make a Sandwich

By SL Bickley
Read by Ben Phillips

You know what goes into each variety — you’d better, you’ve gone over it enough times. You know what’s in each of the recessed boxes in the counter.


Meats: Salami, pepperoni, roast beef, turkey, tuna salad, meatballs, chicken salad. Bacon’s in the narrow coffin-like depression, dead center.

Cheeses: American, white American, pepper jack, Colby, provolone.

Vegetables: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, peppers (red bell, green bell, jalapeño, banana), black olives, pickles.

Sauces: mustard, mayonnaise, chipotle mayonnaise, Italian, light Italian, ranch, all in upside down squeeze bottles. Oil and vinegar in cruets. Shakers of salt-and-pepper, oregano, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

It’s a lot to keep track of. At least, it’s a lot for the mind to keep track of.

It’s easy to make a sandwich if you switch off your mind.



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Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 03:40:44 PM by Russell Nash »



jodymonster

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Reply #1 on: March 15, 2008, 11:13:42 PM
I just quit a job making sandwiches in December after two years.  I guess I got out just in time.

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Listener

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Reply #2 on: March 16, 2008, 01:48:03 AM
A very vivid and accurate depiction, but the story left me feeling flat, as if the author didn't realize until the end "oh, crap, I need some sort of narrative hook here!"

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DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #3 on: March 16, 2008, 07:06:49 AM
I think Listener's accurate in saying it's mostly vivid description, but it was pretty creepy, so I didn't mind.



eytanz

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Reply #4 on: March 16, 2008, 04:58:24 PM
A very vivid and accurate depiction, but the story left me feeling flat, as if the author didn't realize until the end "oh, crap, I need some sort of narrative hook here!"

I didn't get that feeling; it was a low-key kind of story, but I think there was a clear narrative progress as the job slowly ate at the protagonist's sanity.

I found the use of 2nd-person narration interesting here, since it didn't bother me yet at the same time I wasn't actually identifying with the protagonist, possibly it's because it was the wrong kind of soul-crushing job for me to relate to (I've done plenty of temp office work in my younger days, but never had been behind a counter).



Grayven

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Reply #5 on: March 17, 2008, 11:13:33 PM
The ending was great. But I think we needed to get from the middle, where we realize he's poisoning people, to the end a bit more quickly. If the poisoning had been inevitable, but not obvious, on the last line, this would be classic.



oddpod

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Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 07:29:45 AM
i likes this one, i have bean a retail monky on and off for years so it resanates nicely.
think i migt burn some audio CDs and pop over to subway tuday on my lunch

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Thaurismunths

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Reply #7 on: March 25, 2008, 03:25:17 AM
This one just left me flat.
I've done retail. I've worked fast-food. I've done the daily grind.
I just couldn't get in to it.

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Slosses

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Reply #8 on: March 26, 2008, 10:38:19 AM
I quite liked this.

This sort of story (not much plot, more of a vivid description) doesn't usually work for me, but this managed to keep my interest throughout. I can't help but wonder, though, if the plot at the end couldn't have been scrapped, and this thing turned into flash fiction. It might have been more effective.



wakela

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Reply #9 on: March 26, 2008, 11:49:06 PM
I agree that the descriptions were very real, but there wasn't much else to it.  The tone of the narrator didn't give me the feeling that he was particularly invested in his little project.  And for all the sandwich making detail we were given, there was little in the way of what happens to people who eat rat poison. 



JoeFitz

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Reply #10 on: April 05, 2008, 07:51:13 PM
I liked it. Low-key but not very subtle.

Perhaps it would have been more interesting if the poison part "weekend off" episode was moved to the end of the story? As in, he was laying out, dying and thought how that weekend off had made such a difference in his life. But it was still pretty good, Imho.




Anarkey

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Reply #11 on: April 06, 2008, 12:32:07 PM
I found the use of 2nd-person narration interesting here, since it didn't bother me yet at the same time I wasn't actually identifying with the protagonist, possibly it's because it was the wrong kind of soul-crushing job for me to relate to (I've done plenty of temp office work in my younger days, but never had been behind a counter).

Yeah, I'm in the same boat.  I couldn't decide whether second person was a great idea or a poor fit, not even after we'd come to the end.  I had obvious difficulties identifying as the 'you' of the story because gender/description/personality/history/setting could not be more different from me, and yet I didn't hate that it was in second person and I didn't find it jarring either.  I guess it worked as well as it could have.  Usually second person stories are meant to grab you by the throat and shake you, and this one was definitely not of that vein.

I don't know.  It's not often I get to the end of something and am like "wait, did that work?"  Usually I can just tell.  Interesting. 

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Deaf Leper

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Reply #12 on: May 08, 2008, 04:56:02 AM
The story wasn't great, but I thought the writing was. I really liked the beautifully-detailed description of his monotonous tasks at work. It reminded me of every crappy job I had in high school, and I had ( and was fired from ) a lot of crappy jobs in high school.
I'm not saying I ever seriously considered killing someone during my time as a teenager in the food service industry...but I'm also not saying I didn't.

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Reply #13 on: October 16, 2009, 04:46:41 PM
I'm not really sure if I liked this one or not.  The 2nd person didn't annoy me as much as usual, but it did still annoy me--I have yet to see a 2nd person story that wouldn't have been better in 1st or 3rd.  I think this one definitely benefited from being read out loud.  The beginning seems like it would be really boring to just read a list of condiments, but Ben did a good job reading it, well enough that I listened to the end.

I worked my share of service jobs in high school and college, mostly gas stations, but also at Target.  I can definitely relate to the effect it has on you.  I tried my best to be cheerful and personable, and some people noticed and returned the favor, but most just moved like robots, extending their money grabbing their change.  The worst part is that after college, now that I'm working as engineer, if I don't think about it, I lapse into the robot-customer mode unless I remind myself what it was like to do that.

I've got to agree with wakela that with all the sandwich making detail, a little more detail about the rat poison death would've been good.

Overall, I thought the story was very good, it invoked real feelings, and the monotony of the beginning served as a surprisingly good hook--monotony not generally being great for drawing my attention.  But the poisonings, including his own, were so blandly described that i didn't much care what happened to teh customer or to himself. 



Jim Bihyeh

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Reply #14 on: October 21, 2009, 05:34:24 PM
This was the episode - and the awesome reading by Ben Phillips - that first drew me to Pseudopod.

I agree that the 2nd person rarely yields much beyond the immature high-school sonnet or the toss-off country-western song. But it seemed to work here.

Perhaps it is because so many of us have worked in retail, have felt the robot-eyes of our customers scanning us like so many checkout, barcoding lasers, have had that same strange epiphany that the story explores: The Customer is Always Right, But I Have So Much Control...

Especially in food-service. I've shlepped many a pre-frozen Burger King patty and I can say that each one of those customers' Whoppers was at my mercy.

This story explores that realization of power so well. And I thought the ending - with the expression of self-power (i.e. self-destruction) was extremely well-paced. It crept rather than stomped.


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Millenium_King

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Reply #15 on: July 23, 2010, 10:02:12 PM
Sorry, this is a really unfair review: I cannot stand stories in 2nd person.  It is a total pet-peeve of mine and I turned it off a minute or so in.

If someone wants to correct me here and say that all the "yous" were part of a dialog between two characters or something, let me know and I'll re-listen.

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Reply #16 on: July 26, 2010, 01:11:47 PM
Sorry, this is a really unfair review: I cannot stand stories in 2nd person.  It is a total pet-peeve of mine and I turned it off a minute or so in.

If someone wants to correct me here and say that all the "yous" were part of a dialog between two characters or something, let me know and I'll re-listen.

Nah, that's totally fair.  2nd person more often annoys me than anything, and when it's a really good story I just have to wonder "Why oh why couldn't the author have done this in 1st or 3rd instead of distracting me with 2nd?"