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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The truth about sandwiches and burritos

    I feel nostalgic. Not for anything I experienced or that ever really existed, but just for things I imagine in my head happening one day. I guess it’s less nostalgia and more daydreams or alcoholism. Either way, I dream that one day I will live in a world where interpersonal relationships mean more than profit and contractual agreements.

    From Shrewsbury, Mass., we hear a story that would have the 18th century Earl of Sandwich turning in his grave. The Panera Bread Co., a bakery and sandwich shop, sued the White City Shopping Center because owners believe that a burrito is a sandwich.

    The suit focused on Panera’s lease, which said that the shopping center could not lease to another sandwich shop. When Qdoba Mexican Grill moved into the plaza, the owners of Panera felt that their dough would soon run dry.

    So they sued. Panera set out the meat of their argument: that a tortilla is bread and that bread and filling doth a Sandwich make.

    That a court took this turkey of a case is just a bit sad. That there was testimony from culinary experts, dictionary definitions and a ruling from a judge is sadder.

    Nevertheless, the judge ruled that burritos and other Mexican dishes are not sandwiches. In a decision released last week, he wrote, “”A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice and beans.””

    Phew. It’s good to know that issues like this need not be reasonably worked out over a coffee and a burrito-sandwich. It’s why we have the court system: not for practical uses, but to decide petty squabbles between two inconsequential businesses.

    These days everyone is positioning himself or herself to be as profitable as possible, regardless of what it means to other people. The motto used to be, years ago, to live a good life and do right by others. Now it’s more about living a great life and to hell with everyone else.

    It’s about the degradation of interpersonal relationships. We no longer enter into marriages, friendships or business relationships – now, everything is a contract with our minds on profits and what can we gain from the relationship.

    For example, take the story recently reported in the Arizona Republic of a woman and her husband who owned a home for 40 years before the husband’s recent death. The wife then found he had been having an affair for many years with another woman.

    In the husband’s will, he granted to his mistress the contents of two bank accounts and one-half share of the house. He willed all of this to her without the permission of the wife, who was oblivious to the affair.

    Their marriage was, in the end, a contract – one in which the wife felt she lost what she deserved. The contract expired and the wife’s investment fell through. How many of our relationships are backed by financial arrangements?

    For the uncaring pursuit of profit without regard for human dignity or life, one need only read the newspaper every day for examples: Enron’s accounting scandal, big oil profits, the rise of upper-management salaries, unsafe working conditions for coal miners, etc.

    Even our sexual relationships are often about give and take in equal amounts. Shows like “”Sex and the City,”” among others, have led us to believe that all sex should be orgasm trading; if you have one, then I must too. It’s not a cannoli, people, it’s sex, and it should be about pleasure, not fair trade.

    Still don’t believe every relationship we each have is about an equal give and take? When someone buys you a gift, do you not feel an obligation to buy them something back? Even paying for dinner deserves, it seems, reciprocation.

    Eliminating profit and contracts as the primary social motivations is only sensible. In the sandwich and burrito controversy, discussion and a personal relationship would surely have prevented both parties from taking the matter to court.

    In my imagination, a world not motivated primarily by profit would surely make everyone happier. If we returned to my nostalgic (intoxicated) dreams of the world, our interpersonal relationships would drive business.

    For now, that’s just a dream. So, dear friends, if you buy me a gift, I guess I must buy you one. Just don’t expect much – my sandwich business isn’t doing too well after that burrito shop moved in next door.

    Sam Feldman is a junior majoring in Spanish and political science. He can be reached at

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