Published: March 1st 2007February 14th 2007
Note: This is the second installment of a 3-part series that describes in vague detail the events of my Valentine's Day.
On the Rennes campus, there are 4 cafeterias that I know of. One is enormous, 2 are little sandwich shops, and the fourth is like a really crappy, French DK's. Each has its pluses and minuses, and none serve the same thing. I decided to go buy a panini at the biggest one, go to the not-DK's for some barbecue sauce, then seat myself a sandwich shop to chat amicably with my friends. Sounds rather straight-forward, quoi? Mais non. The fates were not aligned this day, my friends. One was eating grilled sausage at non-DK's, one had a salad at a cafe, one skipped lunch, and the other was seated at a table alone all the way across campus.
The only panini left had bacon. Not real bacon, just pork fat rendered into the shape of bacon, slathered in grease, and unhappily slapped into the middle of a grilled baguette, no doubt by a disgruntled foodservice employee as slimy as the bacon, on the verge of going on strike. I sauntered away, obviously frustrated and annoyed at the university culinary system. On my way out the door, a new sandwich style caught my eye. I read the sign above. Ham, tomato, egg, and lettuce, all on a 6" brioche. Delish! I ordered it and strolled back to non-DK's for some BBQ.
I took my sandwich out of the bag, lifted the top piece of bread, and discovered the Indian Ocean of mayonnaise, right there on my sandwich. I could discern only the corners of each tomato quarter, floating like disoriented pirate ships through waves of whipped egg muck. I reached for the BBQ sauce, eyeing my discovery with marked displeasure. As my already buttery fingers clenched the bottle, a minion of the foodservice began to protest. Did my ears mistake me? It really is not possible to buy a sandwich at another cafe 10 feet away and then not use this sauce? A flurry of hand gestures and the word Prohibited!! were perceived. I played the foreigner card and mumbled Next time, next time. Yes, yes. Oh my. Next time, yes, sorry. I spanked the top half of bread with the sauce, and proceeded onto the next cafe to procure a scraping utensil and mayo depository.
As I walked up to the counter of the cafe, cradling my sandwich and reaching for a knife, I was yet again met with a strong interdiction. I could not use one of the one-hundred plastic knives, lying in a pile on the counter as big as a shoebox, because I had purchased my sandwich at another branch of the same university foodservice outlet. I reached for a napkin. Prohibited!!!
I glared at the lady behind the counter, stalked away, and sat down at a table. Using the sandwich bag as a mitten, I began to excavate the actual sandwich. A half-hour had already passed, and lunch would be over soon, as evidenced by the lack of students in line for sandwiches, as well as several empty tables surrounding me. A tap on the shoulder. What the flying fuck??! The same lunchlady patrolman was now insisting that I leave the premises. The tables at that certain cafe were restricted ONLY to those students who had bought a sandwich at that ONE SPECIFIC CAFE. My voice rose like a tidal wave. I pointed out the fact that a) lunch was over; b) every single cafe is run by the same establishment; c) there were absolutely no students in line to get a sandwich; d) there were plenty of other empty tables, in case 20 students got in line, as promised by the lunch lady, and e) unquestionably, it was NOT my fault that she hated her job.
After this last punch in the face, I left the cafe to enjoy my sandwich à mayonnaise the traditional way....on strike.