It’s just a ham sandwich. I could be cliché and call it a ham on rye, but that wouldn’t be necessarily accurate. It’s more of a ham on multi-grain wheat. Seven grain special or some such similar trendy health conscious variety. It’s alright. Along with the ham and faux-rye there is a slice of American cheese and spicy mustard. It’s the spicy mustard that really ties the whole thing together. The spicy mustard is the heart and soul of the sandwich.
But, as is usually the case, it’s not the sandwich that’s important. No, the sandwich is more of a detail, important to the scene but not crucial. If it were to be a slice of pizza, or some sort of pasta dish, the scene would be altered slightly, but the main idea would remain intact, hardly altered in the least. The sandwich is merely to provide authenticity, a certain aspect of realness that might otherwise be lost on the reader.
This underrated sandwich makes its supporting cast appearance at 3:15 in the morning on any random work night, somewhere in the upper Midwest. It’s a packed lunch sandwich. The kind made in haste, almost as an after thought on my way out the door. The spicy mustard, as previously mentioned, is the key to the whole thing. Due to circumstances, conditions outside my knowledge, it’s tough to eat a regular lunch at 3 am. Which is a problem, because on my overnight shift, 3 am is a fairly reasonable time to eat lunch. This is where the spicy mustard comes into play. A bit of a pick me up, something exotic and wild to wake up the taste buds, to explain to them that, “yes, I know its 3 am, but it’s lunch time, fucking eat your sandwich.” This is the role that spicy mustard plays to perfection.
On this particular 3 am lunch, I took the aforementioned sandwich, complete with spicy mustard and all up to the roof of the bottling plant where I spend my summer nights. Working the line with convicts and addicts and all around general weirdos. Those who thrive outside normal society, those who have little use for polite company. They’re mostly good guys, once you get to know them, though each with their own set of unique quirks. It takes a special mind to be able to grasp the realities of the overnight shift; I’m not sure that its something that can be learned. Constant drama and struggle, and tonight, it was not my scene. So I went to the roof to enjoy my ham on rye.
Up on the tar roof, with the gentle roar of industrial air conditioning units, broken by the occasional booming of red eyes filled with sleepy business travelers, I can get away. I can look down on the docks, and the lots, and the lines, and detach myself from that life. To remember to keep dreaming, and keep grinding. To keep writing because I’m not sure what else I can do. To remember that this is all temporary, and nothing that ever came easy was worth much at all. To enjoy and embrace my life, to remember to smile. To finish my ham on rye, with spicy mustard and all, and to get back at it.