... because I want half of yours.
I’m not gonna say I was sleep, but I damn sure wasn’t up. Awake? Sure. Alert? Sorta. Tired? Absolutely.
I’d been running around Dallas all day trying to make some money (and was better than expected at it, too… by my standards at least). It actually wasn’t much cash, in retrospect, but with no rent to pay (seeing as though I was home less)… let’s just say it was a good day! And this particular good day ended with me riding the DART train, through Dallas, searching desperately for some shut-eye.
It was all a dream, really. For real though, it was. I was dreaming about condiments, toasted bread, toppings, meat, cheese and the whole nine. I’d fallen asleep with the 2nd half of a sandwich in my hand with no clue that I wouldn’t even end up finishing it. It was tuna on wheat, for what it’s worth, but let me not get ahead of myself.
It all started because one of the cats I knew out there (he was a photographer) had a gig that day. And since it was raining, he needed someone to help out and keep things dry. I told him I could hold an umbrella, a light or two, and maybe even some solid conversation for a few hours, and so he let me tag along.
Now, we knew each other, for sure …even if we didn’t know each other, you know? Like, I knew his first and last name (but not his middle), his favorite sport (but not athlete), how many siblings he had (but not their names or ages). I even knew that he was from Dallas, but I had no clue as to what part of the city… that sort of thing.
That would soon change, though, because I was about to have half of his sandwich.
By the time we broke for lunch at 11:30, I was an expert at lighting those sets and pretty hungry when we walked into a Subway. We were standing there looking at the menu and then my boy leaned over and said something I’d never heard before and haven’t since forgotten:
“My momma always said you can learn a lot about a person by the way they make their sandwich.”
Yep, just like that. It wasn’t ceremonious, epic, or profound or anything like that. He just sort of… said it. And to himself at that — I’m not even sure he knew I heard him. I watched him make his sandwich: white bread, toasted with jalapeños under the Swiss cheese, banana peppers, salt and pepper, and more; the whole nine.
As for me, to be honest, I was just there for a quick and easy tuna sub, but when I went up to order I ended up getting banana peppers and jalapeños too! I’d never thought about getting them both, but he did, and I guess I was inspired. On top of that, I made it a $5 footlong because once upon a time Subway actually had a heart!
Next thing you know, we were sitting down chatting. We talked family, relationships, music, religion, college days, career dreams, and more. I even found out his middle name, sisters’ names, and the Dallas neighborhood he was from. And it went both ways — he learned a good bit about me too, of which I was happy to share, in fact!
Then I thought about how crazy it was that we’d spent so many weeks up to that point sharing that Big Red Couch (and that tiny ass blanket), and barely even knew each other. I think that’s what made the chat so comforting — the sanctity of sharing a meal and the conversation with someone you don’t know that well. Maybe it was the idea that by learning more about someone else, I could learn more about myself? Or maybe I was just happy to be making some cold hard cash and eat.
As we were wrapping up lunch, I decided to save the final six inches of my tuna for later. I knew it’d come in handy at some point, and when we broke at the end of the day, it did. I headed to the train.
Where was I? Oh yeah.
So, I’m not gonna say I was sleep, but I damn sure wasn’t up. But eyes closed with my sandwich clenched tight, I was at least half way there. I’d had enough money to actually buy a train ticket this time, which meant no cops to keep an eye peeled for, so I didn’t have a care in the world (generally speaking). I deserved this!
And just before I was about to doze off, something hit me:
If you can learn a lot about a person from talking to them… and if you can learn a lot about a man by the way he makes his sandwich…. then could we … “be”… sandwiches ourselves?
Well, maybe not a literal sandwich itself, but perhaps the ingredients that make them up? The family, the hobbies, career paths, the music or religion choices and other quirks of each other we’d been exchanging all day… maybe they were just the bread, meat, cheese, topping and condiments of our own sandwiches! Aha!
This was some trippy shit, perhaps I was delusional and should’ve eaten that entire sub earlier — I was surely losing it. But then again there was still something there, dream or no dream. And that something left me searching for the connective thread between these sandwiches, our interactions, and the “ingredients” therein.
“Sharing your sandwich” with someone, I realized, is primarily a petition to grow closer. It’s a hell of a gesture, offering up your attention, your time, and your self. Sharing a sandwich is vulnerable, but it can be fun too! Because a lot of times, if I offer my half to you, I’m hoping you’ll do the same for me — that way we can BOTH learn more about each other’s “ingredients”.
If I offer you half of my sandwich, it’s not only because I want you to know more about me, but because I want to learn more about you, too. Humans are sort of selfish, let’s be honest. And whether you’re consciously or subconsciously looking to benefit yourself — offering up half of your sandwich is a hell of a start.
What do you think?
I’d spent all day gathering different elements of my friend’s personality, life, and character, only to realize they’d been his ingredients the entire time. He was making his sandwich with me, and so was I with him. And as you may remember, you can learn a lot about a man by the way he makes his sandwich.
I wasn’t sure exactly what his momma meant, or what the heck I’d just even thought about on that train, but I put them both in my pocket that day and held tight. To this day, I use the concept to package myself and information about others I meet from second-round job interviews to blind dates and everything in between. From family and friends to new acquaintances, it really is useful.
I offer half of my sandwich all the time. Ironically, learning about others has helped me better package and understand myself. And so, the next time we meet and I offer it to you, it’s not because you look hungry, or I just assumed you forgot your lunch. It’s not because I want to gloat about how tasty jalapeños and banana peppers are together. And its definitely not because I don’t want to finish it!
I’m offering you half of my sandwich because I want half of yours.
By the time I woke, I’d almost missed my stop. I was getting off to go and meet some friends for a burger and a beer, and when I looked down at that tuna sub I knew exactly where it belonged. I gave it to this homeless man toward the front of the train. I’d seen him when I first got on, and I could tell he wouldn’t be getting off until somebody made him. I’d been there before on a different day, and mostly, all I remembered was being hungry as hell.
That’s the thing about being home less, there are some times you find you actually have a lot to give.
And from one home less man to another, I hope he enjoyed his half! And from me to you, would you like half of my sand…?