fries with that economic report?
By Rich Lewis
causes me great sorrow to see a treasured cultural institution
being degraded by people promoting their own perverted agenda.
Nah, I'm not talking about the sanctity of marriage. I'm
talking about the sanctity of the sandwich.
I've put up with this problem for years, but I'm just not
going to take it anymore.
I've bought sandwiches at five or six local places recently,
and in every case the ingredients wound up in my lap, on my
desk, on the floor, wherever. Sandwich-makers cram so much
stuff in the bread that you can't possibly take a bite without
messy globs of food squirting out.
They think they're doing you a favor when all they're doing
is turning lunch into a game of catch-the-tomato.
The Earl of Sandwich invented his namesake edible in 1762
so he could have a neat and clean meal to consume while playing
Ha. You bring a store-bought sandwich to the card table these
days and you'll soon find your poker chips buried under a
drizzle of cheese, lettuce and special sauce.
A sandwich is not supposed to just look good - it's supposed
to eat good. This requires an artful arrangement of bread
and filling - a thoughtful consideration of height and order.
Instead, it's often a pile-it-on frenzy of disorder, which
is then chopped in half - ensuring the ingredients have four
open ends to fall out of.
The maker then hastily wraps the chaos in a sheet of paper,
giving it an appearance of tidiness - which lasts until you
pull off the little piece of tape and the whole thing explodes
back into its constituent fragments.
So, come on, you sandwich shops - sit down with those rolls
and slabs of meat and design something that honors the Earl's
And not just because you've shirked your artistic and architectural
The fact is, you may soon become a key player in President
Bush's economic recovery plan - and you owe your country a
The "Economic Report of the President" set off an angry buzz
last week for suggesting that it's a good thing for our economy
that American jobs are being lost overseas.
Now, American sandwich-making is not about to be outsourced
to India or Peru. No one wants to order lunch and then wait
six days while it ships in from Bangalore.
But people are especially fretful over the loss of manufacturing
jobs. The word "manufacturing" has a certain resonance with
the American public - evoking as it does images of brawny
and brainy American workers industriously filling the world's
marketplaces with quality cars, clothes, computers and so
Those jobs are indeed disappearing overseas - about 2.7 million
of them have departed our shores since Bush moved to Pennsylvania
Avenue. That doesn't look so good on the president's resume,
especially heading into an election.
But the president may have come up with a way to turn that
No, unfortunately, he hasn't devised a plan to open new factories
or reopen the old ones.
But his economic gurus are wondering - just musing, mind
you - whether we don't actually have a few million manufacturing
jobs that we just didn't notice before.
A section of their report asks the question: "What is manufacturing?"
And by golly, they just don't see why making a sandwich isn't
every bit as much a "manufacturing" enterprise as making a
truck or a lamp.
In their words: "When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger,
for example, is it providing a 'service' or is it combining
inputs to 'manufacture' a product?"
And if a mere hamburger is a "manufactured" product, well
then, a complicated "Free-Range Chicken Montezuma Club Sandwich
with Spicy Oreo Sauce" would be right up there with a TV or
In fact, they note, the Census Bureau defines "manufacturing"
as work where employees are "engaged in the mechanical, physical,
or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components
into new products."
Sounds like a sandwich to me.
And you know, pregnancy fits in there pretty well also. So
if we call every expectant mother a manufacturing worker -
bingo! Our economy is back, baby - as it were.
This section of the economic report is what is called a "trial
balloon." You send up a thought and see who tries to shoot
Congressman John Dingell of Michigan had his gun out real
quick. He fired off a letter to the chairman of the group
that wrote the economic report, noting that the 163,000 workers
in Michigan who lost their manufacturing jobs, "will find
it heartening to know that a world of opportunity awaits them
in high-growth manufacturing careers like spatula operator,
napkin restocking and lunch-tray removal."
He also recommended a public official who would be "perfect
for the job" of assistant secretary for manufacturing: "The
Hon. Mayor McCheese."
So sandwich-makers better be ready in case their country
finally recognizes that making a baloney hero with provolone
is no different than making a refrigerator with automatic
Well, that's not quite right. Most refrigerators are different
from sandwiches in one way: the food doesn't usually fall
on the floor when you go to use them.
This article first appeared in The
Sentinel, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and has been reprinted