On Sandwiches, Defaults, and Choice

The other day, a family member offered to run to Subway, and Kandace was excited. She didn’t have time to go herself, and while it might not be her favorite, it would certainly have been nice to have lunch.

The only problem is that Subway does not have a “default configuration” of their sandwiches. Let’s say that you want the “Cold Cut Combo.” This sandwich features turkey, bologna, “turkey ham” and “turkey salami” – strange enough already – but as for the vegetables and toppings, nothing is specified. If you go in and ask for that sandwich, you’ll be hammered with at least a dozen more questions. Do you want onion? Do you want tomato? What kind of bread? Mayo?

Now most folks evidently feel drawn to a plethora of choices. That is a big part of Subway’s advertising campaigns – you can have it your way. But Kandace never did get her sandwich. It was just too painful to figure out what to order, since there are no defaults at Subway. You simply cannot specify the “Cold Cut Combo” and be done with it!

For lunch today, we went to a local sandwich shop called Bunk. I ordered their “Italian Cured Meats with Provolone Picante and Hot Peppers.” This sandwich is amazing, and there is not a single choice. I think probably you CAN ask for changes or substitutions, but why would you? The way they prepare this sandwich is the way it SHOULD be prepared. They are the experts, they’re using wonderful ingredients, and it would be stupid of me to change things around for no good reason.

That’s the problem with not having a “default configuration,” in sandwich choices or most anywhere else. In our choice-filled society, we often forget the value of having the expert choose the configuration. But why? They’re the expert. They’re the chefs, the designers, the curators. These people spend an immense amount of time studying the choices, experimenting with the options, and coming up with the best of all possible worlds.

Trust them.

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.