Young John Waldenthrottle rode his J.C. Higgins ten-speed bicycle down Louetta Road, headed for the mobile submarine sandwich cart that was usually parked down near Ella Boulevard on weekdays between eleven and about five o’clock. As he approached the mobile eating establishment, he noticed that there was a Manticore just walking up to the cart to place his order.
Young John stopped a few feet from the cart, dismounted his cycle and lowered the kickstand to stabilize the bike adjacent to the curb. He took a quick sip from his water bottle and then, after returning the bottle to its cage on the bike, walked the few steps toward the cart just as the Manticore began placing his order.
“I’d like one of your twelve inch cold cut combos on wheat,” said the Manticore, “complete with lettuce, tomatoes, black olives and banana peppers. Oh, and a good healthy amount of yellow mustard.”
Agnes, the lady who normally works the sandwich stand, except on those days when her sister, a professional masseuse who usually works out of her own house, has to go to a client’s house instead, in which case Agnes, who lives with her sister, has to stay home to take care of her three-year old niece and in turn has to make arrangements with the central submarine sandwich office just north of downtown Houston to get a substitute to run the Ella/Louetta wagon – that usually ends up being Carl – but this happened to not be one of those days, so it is actually Agnes on this particular day who reached into the little oven under the counter and pulled out a twelve inch wheat bun and sliced it down the middle to start the preparation of the Manticore’s sandwich.
The Manticore, as well as Young John Waldenthrottle, watched intently as Agnes arranged the assortment of meat on one half of the open bun, paused then asked, “What kind of cheese?”
“Ya got pepper jack?” inquired the Manticore.
“Sure do,” replied Agnes as she threw about four slabs of it on top of the meat, then followed up with lettuce, tomatoes, black olives and banana peppers. She then reached over and grabbed the bottle of spicy brown mustard and laid a thick layer all along the top of the sandwich innards then folded over the bun.”
The Manticore, with a shocked expression commanded, “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA there young lady. I distinctly asked for yellow mustard – not spicy brown mustard. You gotta start that sandwich all over.”
“I’m sorry but we are all out of yellow mustard,” replied Agnes. “Besides, most all of our customers absolutely rave about how good the cold cut combo tastes with spicy brown mustard. In fact, our yellow mustard kept going bad because everyone was always choosing the spicy brown.”
“Well I don’t give two hoots about what everybody else likes or raves about – there is no way I’m gonna pay for a sandwich with that awful spicy brown mustard on it, let alone eat one of the disgusting things!" With that said, the Manticore turned around and stormed off down the road.
Agnes and Young John both stared down the street as they watched the Manticore stomp away in a huff. After a moment Young John turned, walked up to the cart and said, “If it’s alright with you ma'am, I’ll go ahead and buy that sandwich you just fixed for that horrible beast.”
“I’ll tell you what,” offered Agnes, “not only will I give you this fine sandwich; I’m going to give you this fine sandwich for free.”
A big, wide grin stretched across Young John’s face as Agnes continued, “And what’s more, I’ve got something else I’m going to give you for free.” Then she bent over slightly, reached under the counter and came back up with a brown paper grocery sack in her hands.
“OH MY GOSH! What is that?” exclaimed Young John.
“This is a bag of leftover goodies that I was passing out to the little Trick-or-Treaters last Halloween,” answered Agnes as she reached into the bag and started pulling out staplers and tape dispensers and a two-hole punch and a three-hole punch, assorted pens and pencils and rulers and a big box of stick pins and paper clips and a whole packet of different sizes of yellow sticky note pads. And some correction tape.
Young John Waldenthrottle was miles beyond excited as he put all of the goodies back in the brown paper sack and then strapped it down on the rear rack of his J.C. Higgins ten-speed. He walked back over to the sandwich cart and got his twelve inch cold cut combo with spicy brown mustard on wheat, thanked Agnes about half-a-dozen more times, then jumped on his bike and went riding back down the road toward his house with his sandwich and his office supplies.