*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
When I was in high school, my mother often packed my lunch. Sometimes, it would be a surprise, but most of the time, I knew what to expect. One time, I felt excited because my mother had packed me a meatloaf sandwich. I couldn't wait to eat it.
My mother smothered my meatloaf sandwich in ketchup, just the way I like it. If you knew me at all, you'd know ketchup is my favorite condiment. I've been known to eat ketchup sandwiches, just copious amounts of ketchup on soft white Wonder Bread, or ketchup and onion sandwiches, which are exactly the same with the addition of thick-sliced raw onions.
Everything always has to have ketchup on it. I always ensure there are plenty of unopened bottles of ketchup in the cupboard because I can think of nothing worse than sitting down to dinner, only to learn that we've somehow run out of ketchup.
On the day of the meatloaf sandwich incident, I sat down to lunch in the school cafeteria, unwrapped my sandwich, and took a large bite that had something exceedingly strange in it. To my surprise and horror, it was a baggie twist tie, a long twisted wire wrapped in moisture-resistant paper and doused in ketchup.
I was lucky I didn't swallow the offending object. It took a moment to realize what it was and spit it out. Even then, the meatloaf and ketchup kept me from identifying it immediately.
Somehow, the baggie twist tie from the Wonder Bread package had made its way into my sandwich.
"If I had swallowed that baggie twist tie, I probably would have gotten it caught in my throat and choked on it," I complained to my mother when she picked me up from school. "I couldn't even finish eating my sandwich."
"Did you think I had put two of them in there?" she asked.
My mother told me she was sorry I had gone through such trauma during my lunch break at school. Obviously, I'm fine now. I was fine then, too, since I was fortunate enough not to have swallowed the foreign object. At least we can laugh about it now. I wasn't laughing when I found that twist tie in my sandwich.
As a result of the meatloaf sandwich incident, I'm always a little apprehensive when I bite down on a sandwich that I haven't prepared personally. In fact, I often cut my sandwiches into tiny squares with a fork and knife before eating them, just to be sure.
If I remove a twist tie from a package as I'm making a sandwich, I won't eat the sandwich until I've accounted for the twist tie. If I drop it, or it falls beneath a plate or paper towel, I stop everything until I've found it. I guess you could say I've developed a lifelong fear of finding foreign objects in my food, but I still love meatloaf sandwiches with plenty of ketchup. Hold the twist tie.