By Mansour Chow, jet-setter and coach-getter
On Friday, I took a coach to Bristol with my wife. Before the journey commenced, my wife grabbed some sandwiches from Sainsbury’s from their aptly named ‘On-the-Go’ range.
I suppose the range is aptly named for the circumstances of her purchase, but I can’t speak for all purchases. Then again, in a sense, unless we’re staying perfectly still, aren’t we always on-the-go? And even if we’re staying still, we’re still burning calories, our hearts are still beating, our bodily organs are still functioning, unless we’re dead, of course.
Okay, then, let’s try to come up with some sort of truism to summarise these thoughts. Hmm, how about this: we’re basically all on-the-go unless we’re dead.
But come to think of it, even when we’re dead, we’re kind of on-the-go, in that our flesh and organs are still subject to decomposition. And for up to a few days after our brain and heart have given up on us, our skin cells remain alive. Furthermore, once the brain goes, that part of it that sent a signal to our sphincter to stay closed (until we need it to open at a time of our choosing) disappears, meaning we actually urinate when dead. We can also fart and shit, and some people (your mum, for example) even ejaculate.
But for the sake of a pretty non-existent argument (until I raised it), let’s just say that we’re not on-the-go when we’re dead. Let’s also say that some idiots create a range of sandwiches aimed at dead people, and they give that range the name ‘On-the-Go’. Can we all please agree that that would be ridiculous? Firstly, you’d normally have to go to the dead people in order to have any chance of selling the sandwiches. And even then you still wouldn’t be able to sell sandwiches to them, because they’d be dead. Dead people don’t choose to do anything because they’re no longer capable of making a choice. Only the most ludicrously determinist philosophers would say that there’s little or no difference between a dead person and a living person in terms of choice making capacity.
I’m confident, if you didn’t already agree before, that you’ll now almost certainly agree that a sandwich range aimed at dead people would be a really fruitless venture. Even a fruit range aimed at dead people would be a fruitless venture.
I think we just have to be honest about people who are no longer living. They are no longer masters of their domain, if they ever were. They have no domain. To put it simply, dead people are, well, dead. It’s no good saying that they’re still looking over you, because they’re not. Their eyes no longer send signals to the brain; the brain no longer receives signals from the eyes. And while we’re at it, can we please agree that it’s ridiculous and idiotic to think that there’s an afterlife. I mean, what’s the point in life if there’s an afterlife?
One of the sandwiches my wife purchased from this on-the-go range was a honey and mustard chicken wrap. Once the coach had departed and we felt marginally more settled (which was about as settled as we were ever going to be), we opened that sandwich, having ourselves half a wrap each (there are two half-wraps in a pack).
Unable to find image of actual product under review. Here’s something vaguely similar.
Midway through eating the wrap, we both stopped for a moment to discuss how utterly disappointing the sandwich was. It was, as I told Sainsbury’s via tweet, “one of the most underwhelming experiences of my life”.
Why, you may ask, did I feel the need to tell Sainsbury’s of my experience eating their sandwich? Mainly because I was a bit bored and it would help to fill the time, but also because that’s what people do these days, isn’t it? They just whine to huge companies who are so worried about their reputation that they usually just hand over money or vouchers to you to try to make you feel better. Complaining to companies via Twitter is now en vogue. I could write an entire essay about this form of societal decay, but now is not the time. However, for a quick comfort break from the heavy intellectual themes of this essay, here are what I consider to be good examples of the sort of complaints via Twitter I am referring to:
And we’re back. Where were we? Oh, do keep up! We were at the point where I told you that I had complained via Twitter to Sainsbury’s about their fucking rubbish sandwich.
Steven was the first one to reply. He was “sorry” I didn’t enjoy the wrap or at least that what’s he told me, and he wanted to know more about why I didn’t like it. About a minute before I received Steven’s message, I had actually written a further message to Sainsbury’s, adding the Average Food Blog Twitter handle, saying:
Somehow though, Steven’s message replenished some added hope in humanity, that someone – even if it was simply because they were being paid to – actually cared enough to ask me more about my abject experience, as if perhaps they might want to do something to cheer me from my folly. Thanks to Steve, I managed to pluck back up enough strength from the depletion that eating that wrap caused me, in order to tell him my thoughts.
“Basically, it didn’t taste of anything. It tasted how I imagine most sandwiches would taste if I smoked 100 cigarettes a day for 50 years. I don’t smoke, by the way, only the odd one on a night out – a sort of cheeky cigarette when I’m tipsy or drunk. But I’m not a smoker per se.
There was no detectable mustard taste to it. In fact, there was no detectable taste for any of the ingredients. The chicken just about had the texture of chicken, but none of the flavour. I’m ashamed to say that my wife and I still ate it all which kind of reminds me of the joke in Annie Hall at the start about the two old women eating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrxlfvI17oY”
Technically I wrote all that in a serious of tweets and had missed out the word ‘no’ in one of the tweets (I’ve also tidied it up a bit here and there too), but I’m relatively confident they could read between the lines.
Angie from Sainsbury’s responded three hours later offering me a refund. But I was curious. Had she ever tried the sandwich? Did she agree with me? I wanted to know whether she had tasted this sandwich and, if so, what she thought, so I asked via another tweet.
Ewan responded saying, “I can’t speak for Angie but I personally love it!” And he re-offered me a refund.
Well, after Ewan’s response, I needed to know more. How could he love it? There is really nothing to love about it. I mean, I can see how someone might love it. For example, if it became available to them during a famine. But aside from those sorts of exceptional and unrealistic scenarios, I couldn’t get my head around how he could love such a shit sandwich.
The only possible benefit of the existence of this sandwich is that the phrase ‘shit sandwich’ may have been coined as a consequence of eating it. But to love the sandwich, that is whole other thing. What kind of sick and twisted individual would one have to be in order to actually love it? What low expectations would someone have to have to allow them to enjoy eating that sandwich? As I contemplated the latter question, I actually felt a bit sorry for Ewan.
But I still couldn’t let it rest. I needed to know what he liked about it and what score he would give it out of ten. So I asked him. But given that I had originally been asking Angie about her opinion on it, I asked him whether he could ask her too.
Roughly five and a half hours later, Aisha replied to say that her colleagues weren’t in and that she’d never tried the wrap. And she offered another refund. But this had turned into something far more important than the money. I needed to try and get my head around how Ewan could like such an appalling sandwich.
Over nine hours later, I asked Aisha if they were in the office and if she could ask again. And then Ewan replied:
“I’ve spoken to Angie and she said she loves the sweetness mixed with the savoury flavour of the mustard. Along with some Kettle Chips and a bottle of Lucozade, it would be a 10/10 meal deal. I personally love mustard with chicken, I think it’s a great combo along with a bottle of Irn Bru and original Pringles, it would be a 8.5/10!”
At first, I was not sure what to make of this reply nor was I sure what to make of Ewan’s professed love of such a terrible sandwich or Angie’s high appreciation for it. But I think I am beginning to come to terms with these matters.
On the one hand, I remain terribly troubled that there are people that exist who enjoy this sandwich. On the other hand, they are the sort of people who, when asked to do something simple like rate a sandwich out of ten, instead rate a meal deal which incorporates the sandwich.
All this, unfortunately, still leaves me and my wife with the dreadful memory of eating such a terribly disappointing sandwich. Yes, we can at least take some solace in the fact that we have much better sandwich taste than Ewan and Angie, and that we will be getting a gift card sent to our home address (presumably for the cost of the sandwich), but I don’t think the wretched experience of eating that sandwich will ever fade from our memories.
To be fair, I feel worse for my wife. Years from now, she will keep seeing people who look familiar to her, perhaps on a bus or on a train. She will wonder why that person seems familiar and how she might know them. And then she will suddenly work it out – that person resembles the one who sold her the On-the-Go Honey and Mustard Chicken Wrap.
In No Longer Human, Osamu Dazai writes:
“It was a cold autumn night. I was waiting at a sushi stall back of the Ginza for Tsuneko (that, as I recall, was her name, but the memory is too blurred for me to be sure: I am the sort of person who can forget even the name of the woman with whom he attempted suicide) to get off from work.
The sushi I was eating had nothing to recommend it. Why, when I have forgotten her name, should I be able to remember so clearly how bad the sushi tasted? And I can recall with absolute clarity the close-cropped head of the old man — his face was like a snake’s — wagging from side-to-side as he made the sushi, trying to create the illusion that he was a real expert.
It has happened to me two or three times since that I have seen on the streetcar what seemed to be a familiar face and wondered who it was, only to realize with a start that the person opposite me looked like the old man from the sushi stall.
Now, when her name and even her face are fading from my memory, for me to be able to remember that old man’s face so accurately I could draw it, is surely a proof of how bad the sushi was and how it chilled and distressed me.”
We will remain chilled and distressed for evermore.
Sainsbury’s On-the-Go Honey & Mustard Chicken Wrap