sandwich kings, sandwich queens

O long afternoon, O office light, by fiber of file folder and grey grain of ceiling tile, you try us. You try our souls. You try on our souls and walk off with them. But then Schmutzie calls.

...

Schmutzie: How are things working out in the new job?

Palinode: (confidential and dull), but even better than that are the coffee breaks. All the analysts and coordinators go the Sears cafeteria for their breaks.

Schmutzie: Why the Sears cafeteria?

Palinode: Partly because civil servants gravitate towards weak crappy coffee and cafeteria-style restaurants. It satisfies an urge to queue. And because you can get there by a series of second story walkways and thereby avoid the hideous direct sunlight.

Schmutzie: Do they have a plethora of food items?

Palinode: A plethora, of course. But what's really weird is the fact that the ham and cheese sandwiches are the most expensive sandwiches they've got.

Schmutzie: But that makes no sense.

Palinode: Exactly!

Schmutzie: What kinda twisted logic are they working on?

Palinode: I've taken the opportunity to suss it out. Sears cafeteria sandwiches exist in a strict three-tiered heirarchy based on ingredients. Would you like details?

Schmutzie: I would appreciate your cogent sandwich heirarchy analysis.

Palinode: Oh yeah. At the lowest tier, the peasantry of the sandwich world, squat the egg salad and the cheese sandwich, generously gifted with margarine. Note that these are not strictly meat but meat byproducts, attempts by animals to generate and nourish. They are diverted in their attempts by human industry. Condemned by their failure, they cower between slices of bread and endure the squalor that naturally accompanies their lot. You follow me so far?

Schmutzie: I do. Please tell me about the next tier.

Palinode: The second tier of sandwiches represent the merchants, artisans and early sandwich capitalists. Or something. They are distinctly and proudly primary protein. Roast beef, chicken salad, turkey breast. But here's the weird thing.

Schmutzie: Something's different than weird here?

Palinode: On the top tier, the $4 elite of sandwiches, two sandwiches, king and queen, reign both. One is salmon, plutonian lord of long-chain fatty acids. The other is ham and cheese.

Schmutzie: A ham and cheese sandwich cost four bucks. That's ridiculous.

Palinode: Now we see the brute arithmetic of sandwich society. Cheese is at level 1. Ham is at level 2. 1 plus 2 naturally equals 3, therefore ham and cheese is the queen of all sandwiches.

Schmutzie: And salmon is king.

Palinode: Of course. Do you think they'd be ruled by two queens? Sandwich society is pretty conservative.