I'm A Former Subway Sandwich Artist, And I'm Begging You To Stop Overfilling Your Subs

My first job was at Subway, and it instilled in me a deep appreciation for food service workers. It was a bit silly to have "sandwich artist" as my official job title — the subs I made were certainly not art. Still, especially as a teenager, I took pride in being able to assist customers.

I feel like that's what a lot of rude customers are not realizing: Food service workers are often genuinely happy to help. Admittedly, I'm only one example. The Subway franchise I worked at, though, naturally had an entire staff, serving as a microcosm of all Subways. There were other teens like me present, earning spending money and cultivating professional experience. There were also young adults, putting themselves through college or saving up to move into their own places. There was even the manager, who had two other jobs and simply worked at Subway for disposable income. None of us hourly workers hoarded Subway's ingredients like dragons, who were greedy over something that didn't even belong to us. So, why do so many customers fight sandwich artists tooth and nail to overfill their subs? For the sake of the sandwich artists, I'm begging you to stop!

Look, I get it. You want your money's worth. You miss the days of the $5 footlong. You heard that Subway sandwiches are really 11 inches long, not 12, and you feel cheated. That's understandable. Feel free to fill that footlong! There's just a right and a wrong way to do it.

What's the huge deal?

By now, most people know overfilling a Chipotle burrito is a fast-food faux pas. Why isn't that same courtesy extended to sandwich artists? The answer may lie in the perceived difference between burritos and subs. Burritos get wrapped, and we've all seen overfilled ones leak at the end of the assembly line, requiring another tortilla.

The thing is, sandwiches get wrapped, too, in paper; but sandwich artists can't add another loaf of bread to the final product, so they just make do. Unlike burritos, footlongs also need to get cut in half at the end, which is difficult if the sub is so overfilled that it's spilling out the front. The result is a mess for the staff, a sloppy sub you won't truly enjoy, and a hold-up for all the hungry customers behind you as the workers clean up a spill.

Sandwiches are, by definition, food between bread. So, folks imagine subs as cartoon sandwiches, which Shaggy or a minimum wage worker will expertly stack up, then Scooby Doo or you will swallow whole with no mess. That's not how the Subway sandwiches work, though. Have you actually watched them cut the bread, lately? The workers don't slice loaves straight through; they leave a sort of breaded hinge. Then, all the filling needs to fit in, like it's some sort of soft shell taco.

Does that mean you need to go hungry at Subway and gladly accept whatever sandwich artists spare you? Not quite.

How to get your fill

We all know the hack: Ask for an ingredient, request a bit more, then ask for extra, and finally, admit you just want double. Congratulations — you've successfully fooled the staff into giving you more than you would've gotten if you'd asked for double from the very start. Come on, though. It's fine to tell sandwich artists upfront, "Hey, I want double cheese, but I'm not big on veggies. So, can you make it super cheesy, please?" That's all there is to it.

Well, I admit, there's one caveat. If someday, you as a regular suddenly receive smaller quantities, stop and look around before complaining. Is your server training a new employee on the "correct" way to serve customers? Or worse, is their boss standing over their shoulder, watching them? Don't shout, "Come on! You usually give me more than that." If you do, you've just ratted out your food-service friend for the slim chance of gaining a few more fillings in the short term. Instead, that sandwich artist is likely going to get chewed out for bending rules in secret, then stop doing it long term.

When most customers asked me for olives, they typically meant a handful. Yet, Subway's corporate policy was to merely give out three measly olive slices per 6-inch. That's pretty stingy, if you ask me; but what was I to do when the person writing my checks was there? Sandwich artists are only doing their jobs. Why get in their way?