Thank God for Subway or How Not to Run a Business

“There’s going to be a Subway put in under Bidgood next semester,” my nameless lady friend says to me as we wait for the bus.

Photo by Julia Hoven

An inexorable image of a train careens across my mind as a moronic, stupefied look plasters itself to my face, all as I try to figure out how I’ve managed to avoid hearing about it.

“What?” she asks me in the familiar “you’re an idiot” tone.

“We’re nowhere near big enough for a subway,” I said, thinking of the paltry few miles between Bidgood and anywhere else on campus.

“Thirty thousand people and we’re not big enough for a Subway? Decatur has a Subway!” She says “Decatur” with the same reproachpul disdain one might use to describe Auschwitz.

My mind reels out as I re-evaluate everything I know about Alabama. The look on my face contorts itself further into befuddlement until it looks like a drunken scowl, and only when my nameless lady friend’s expression achieves a terminal capacity of condescension and disgust does it finally click that I’ve misunderstood the situation.

Fast forward six months and an awkward bus ride that included a stammering defense for my confusion and most certainly did not include an actual admission that I thought that President Witt was trying to install a subterranean, rail-bound addition to the Crimson Ride. I’m standing with my lady friend in line at the aforementioned and previously hypothetical Subway (now correctly spelled sporting a capital “S”). The line at Subway stretches far beyond the counter, and my lady friend berates me for suggesting the campus was too small to support the restaurant. I wonder quietly to myself if she could possibly ridden me any harder if I’d just told her I thought she meant the other kind of subway. I figured the answer was probably a Yes.

Let me tell you about hands-on-learning. I arrive at Subway (am berated by my lady friend), wait in line for untold eons (mutter obscenities under my breath), get within a hairs breadth of the front (pray to god they have Italian herb bread) and finally, freaking finally, I order the sandwich. They did not have Italian herb bread. They also apparently didn’t have an employee capable of comprehending the phrase a few jalapeño’s, because after the utterance, I received peppers three layers deep, with three gallons of spicy mustard to boot.

Just because I like to eat what’s been dubbed “a disgusting Paul sandwich” doesn’t mean I want to weep uncontrollably while my mouth smolders in the wake of untold quantities of Mexican peppers. You, Subway employee, are applying mustard — not trying to extinguish a blazing inferno with an experimental chunky concoction of mustard and shame. As I timidly eat the nuclear concoction, I wonder to myself, Why is the most grossly mismanaged business on campus actually inside the Business School?

I found no answer then, but I now I believe I have. With our schools rich history of success, there have been a number of failures (see Bernie Madoff).  What better way to show students the shameful consequence of poor business? Plop up a poor business where students rely on business. I can envision hundreds, nay, thousands of business students now weeding out their complacency, warming up their professional engines and utilizing skills learned here at the University and saying to themselves “When I get into a business it will not be like this.” And for that, UA, we thank you.