The Deli Lama

Unsuccessful presidential candidates should work at the deli.  Being denied what they thought was the most powerful position in the world, they would be amazed at how much more power they could wield while wearing a white coat and a hair net.  Who wants to negotiate treaties and entertain foreign ambassadors when they could control the world with three little words?  Take.  A.  Number.

The Deli sounds like such a happy place, doesn’t it?  It’s the beginning of words like delightful and delicious.  But it’s also the start of delirious, which is what you are if you actually enjoy ordering at the deli. 

Your visit to the deli begins with taking the golden ticket.  This little baby will get you access to whatever you want, as long as you are willing to wait longer than it takes to get your license at the DMV.  We are so optimistic when we first arrive at the ticket dispenser, as though somehow, today will be different.  Today I will be the next number called.

When you first take your ticket, you feel pretty righteous about your number, until you look up at the giant number board and see that you have five million people to go before you.  The controller of that number board is The Deli Lama, and he is the most powerful person in the world.

Imagine having everyone hanging on your every word.  You look out into the crowd at the hungry, discouraged masses, and realize everyone is waiting for your next move.  In fact, nobody moves until you announce the next number.  Oh, the look of desperation on their faces. Maybe you could even pause a little for dramatic effect, put some Ryan Seacrest flair into it and tell them that the next number is (pause…pause…feel the power)…coming up after your break.  Maybe you could skip over a number  just to watch them panic.   Why not?  There has never been a Deli Rebellion.  No unruly crowd has ever knocked over the ticket dispenser, charged the counter, and demanded their meat out of numerical order. 

You never hear on the news that some woman in Poughkeepsie elbowed her way to the front of the crowd, took The Deli Lama hostage and held him over the carving machine until someone gave her a 1/2 pound of Genoa salami.  No, when it comes to deli ordering, we follow the rules like sheep.

Don’t get me wrong; there are people who make waves at the deli.  Some people, when asked if the meat is cut thin enough, will actually say, “no” while a hush falls over the crowd.  The hush is the other people silently revering the One who had the nerve to rebel at the deli.  Everyone secretly desires it, but few live the dream.  Most of us just go along with the cut because the other person is standing at a meat carving machine and therefore must have more power.  We take “Is this thin enough?” as some sort of mob-like threat, so we just gulp and answer “yes” meekly.

The deli was designed to serve the people, but the power trip has gotten out of control.  Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves…if only they knew what a deli was, of course.  This is just the sort of thing that would have outraged Benjamin Franklin, who believed that a pound of meat in time saved nine.  Or something like that.

Some suggestions for putting the power back in the hands of the people where it belongs…

Gather the other deli patrons in line and:

  1. Demand to be served in alphabetical order.
  2. Demand that your meat be carved into animal shapes.
  3. Ask for your meat in uncommon fractions.   (7/8 pounds, 3 oz. of turkey)
  4. Use the metric system while ordering.  (5 kilograms of ham)
  5. Group your meat orders and give the sum total. (50 pounds of bologna, 100 pounds of cheese, etc…)
  6. Even the fainthearted can refuse to put the used ticket in the basket after ordering. 

Tune in next week to learn, among other things, when to buy organic…

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