Lord knows, there’s a lot for the professional cynic such as me to dislike about Prêt sandwiches. The smug way they relentlessly proclaim their own virtue on their packaging; the fact that they are allegedly ‘handmade’ yet look and taste exactly the same in every branch from Little Twiddlington to Wankbridge (who makes these things? Robots?); the fact that their pickle is made out of mashed-up kittens.* But however annoying and inadequate Prêt can be, not having Prêt can be even worse.
Let me explain.
Many a morning I get a Prêt sandwich on my way to work, if you can call what I do ‘work’. The identikit nature of the sandwiches is indeed not conducive to gustatory excitement, but there is a sense in which this very fact suits the monotonous nature of the daily commute: you know where you are with a Prêt sandwich, just like you know where you are with a stultifying office job.* I would even venture to say that I have come to enjoy this aspect of my day: go into Prêt, pick up a sandwich, tell them that no, I don’t want coffee but that, yes, I do want a bag, attempt to use the cardreader to the left when I should be using the one to the right, ask for extra tissues and BAM! Get the hell outta there.
Eating my Prêt sandwich on the Hammersmith and City Line is one of life’s (very, very, very) small pleasures, in the same bracket, I would say, as picking out a medium-sized lump of earwax.*** Imagine, then, my veritable horror at discovering, this morning, that I had left my salmon sandwich in Prêt, after having purchased it! I found myself on the tube, with that taste you get in your mouth when you have cleaned your teeth but not yet eaten anything, sans sandwich and also sans the £3.50 I piddled away on it.
It is difficult to describe this kind of disappointment. Obviously it is not requiring of wailing or garment-rending, but nor is it the kind of thing you can just shrug off lightly. It eats away at you like a little mosquito bite****. There was nothing for it but to read my Metro. And sob.
A great philosopher once said that ‘you don’t know what you got til it’s gone’. Going into a Prêt and buying a sandwich is a fairly mundane experience, but going into a Prêt, buying a sandwich and not eating that sandwich is worse. Thus, it can be deduced that, once a Prêt sandwich is purchased, it is better to eat it than not to eat it. This is a fairly minimal standard for any comestible to reach, but by God Prêt reaches it, unlike, say, most Tesco sandwiches, which you would probably have to pay me to eat. But that, my humble readers, is a topic for another thesis.
** I do not have an office job, but I will not let that get in the way of an apt analogy. Ooh, can you feel the aptness? That, my friend, is damn apt.
*** fuck me, that’s apt.