Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ode to Jimmy John's

As some of you may know, I have an unhealthy addiction to sandwiches. I attribute this almost entirely to my friend, Eileen, who introduced me to a whole new world of sandwiches when we became friends in Michigan. I'd eaten sandwiches before, of course, and liked them well enough. They can be a very handy and practical food item. Just ask my sister, Jody, who ate a ham sandwich every day (as far as I know) of her Jr. High and High School careers, and may still to this day.

In any case, I discovered another level of deliciousness when I began exploring my sandwich options around Ann Arbor. There were many to choose from: Potbelly's (hot sandwiches at their best), Roly Poly (the Texas Tuna Melt was divine), more gyro/schwarma places than I'd ever seen (a huge perk to living in an area with a large percentage of Middle Eastern folks), and last but not least, Jimmy John's (said with a sigh).

There were Jimmy John's stores everywhere in Michigan, including seven or more in the Ann Arbor area alone. There was one right by my bus stop downtown and right near the halls where both the school orchestra and the Ann Arbor Symphony held their concerts. There was another right by the freeway entrance near the School of Music which I frequented when traveling to and from gigs. I actually spent quite a bit of time traveling around Southern Michigan for gigs (thanks again to Eileen) and more often than not had to eat lunch/dinner on the road. If given the choice I would invariably choose Jimmy John's over almost anywhere else.

Not only would I almost always choose Jimmy John's, I always ordered the exact same thing. I experimented with different sandwiches when I was first getting to know the shop, but I eventually came up with the perfect sandwich and haven't ordered anything different since 2006, to my knowledge. I always get the #2, "The Big John," which is roast beef with lettuce and tomato. That sounds pretty tame, but then I have them add onions, oregano, and their special sauce (which is probably just oil and vinegar). The combination can only be described as celestial. Superhuman. Transcendental.

My reason for writing this post, which sounds like it has some heavy corporate backing, is because of a couple of recent experiences:

1.) They just opened a store a few blocks from where I live in Salt Lake. Before, the closest one was a 20-minute drive on the freeway so I couldn't go there without feeling extravagant unless there was already a reason for me to be going through that part of town. Now that there's one so close, though, I'm afraid that every day will turn into a Jimmy John's day and I'll become one of those customers that the employees will know by name and will know what I mean if I order "the usual." That actually might be kind of cool and make me feel like I'm in a movie or TV show, but that's not exactly what I'm going for in life.

2.) I left my viola in a Jimmy John's a couple of weeks ago. I stopped there on my way to Salt Lake (there's a shop conveniently located off the I-15 Highland/Alpine exit). I was feeling paranoid about leaving my viola in the car, so I took it inside while I got my sandwich. Since my case is brown it blended in perfectly with the bench and one thing led to another.... I got it back and everything was fine, but my level of distraction while inhaling a sublime sandwich could end up being a very bad thing someday.

So, do yourself a favor and look up your nearest Jimmy John's and try my favorite sandwich. You won't be disappointed and if you are, I'll know we're not supposed to be friends.

Here's a link to an advertisement that captures how I felt when I moved to Utah and discovered there were no Jimmy John's shops within a four-hour drive. It was a dark day.