Category Archives: Product Review

Creepy!

Note: I don’t wear sunglasses. Ever.

Yet, I saw these visor reflective ones and felt compelled to get one. I ordered them before my bowels tried to strangle me to death.

Whether it is by design or not, wearing them gives me the urge to carry a baton and/or skulk around in the periphery bushes of a random property.

Laughing, X

Shower(ed) With Gifts

There’s something in the air this week with my apartment. And not just meth fumes and strange candles. I got a new shower curtain earlier in the week. Today, a custom pillowcase arrived. Also, a couple of photo magnets that I put on the inside of the metal front door. The pillowcase is similar to my curtain except with more pictures.

Not to be outdone by the fiercely competitive Jessica, Erika bought me a showerhead as a gift. The one installed in this apartment was installed in ’79. 1979, I hope. I can’t be sure. It may have had bloodstains or demonic etchings on it. Erika suffered the same indignity when she moved into this building thirty-two years ago. Everything was original and not in the excellent way that home-buying shows use the word. The National Historical Society almost decreed we couldn’t change out any of the fixtures due to their historical significance. George Washington may well have showered using those same showerheads.

The showerhead is an AquaDance, “…for the ultimate shower experience.” It sounds iffy, doesn’t it? First, there’s implied dancing on a slippery surface, an activity strongly discouraged by the AARP. Second, the word “ultimate” literally means “last.” I hope it is contradictory yet flowery marketing at work here.

Erika swears that this two-head detachable piece of bling is the best out there for the money. She even printed out instructions written by someone who wanted everyone to have the best installation experience possible. It’s apparent that she’s aware of my propensity toward imbecility. I don’t fault her for it.

Given my track record, I will attempt to be cautious when installing it. I’d rather not be the inspiration for the “Final Destination” reboot. Living in this apartment complex already has me a little bit worried. At any rate, once my neighbors realize that I am using my move as the basis for a lot of snark and satire, they may well acquire pitchforks and march over here.

In some ways, I’m going to miss taking spartan showers. I’ve always loved cool or cold showers, and doubly so when the equipment is impossible to use safely. The water heater and the shower installed as I found it when I moved here assist greatly in realizing these goals.

This new showerhead may well spoil me. Soon enough, I’ll be eating shaved cheese and sporting a goatee. The current showerhead I’m using shoots water randomly, almost maliciously. I’m going to miss it, as it reminds me of my mom’s parenting style.

Anyway, thank you, Erika. I suspect you may have bought this for me so that you and the other neighbors won’t hear so much screaming when I try to use the shower as intended.

I’ll be Aquadancing in luxurious comfort and style.

Also, this might be the most valuable thing in my apartment.

It’s a good thing I have renter’s insurance.

I love joking at the expense of this apartment complex. Anyone reading my stories knows that there are a lot of advantages to living here. No amenities, just advantages.

That’s an excellent metaphor for a simple life. I don’t need much, especially if I remember that almost everything essential to happiness is invisible. I live in my head, not in this place. I’m grateful for both. Nothing is certain.

Love, X

PopChips (A Love Affair With Food)

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
― Erma Bombeck

I thought I had already posted about Popchips. This food item is one of the go-to secrets in my arsenal of food choices. I know I’ve raved about them on social media. In the last year, I estimate that I’ve eaten 30 cases, more or less. It’s an addiction at this point, much like lemons and tajin seasoning. I’m almost a bit evangelical about how good these things have been for me, minus the sweaty on-television confession.

Locally, I can get a box of 30 bags for about $12-13 at Sam’s Club. The 30-pack includes barbeque, sour cream and onion, and sea salt in individual serving bags. Each bag is 100 calories. Not that I count calories – but I am generally aware of calorie consumption and use the information to initially decide if it a long-term food for me. For those who must count calories, I am sorry; that sort of thing would derail me quickly. Generally speaking, process derails me.

I’ve tried several other chip options. All of them fall short for either flavor, availability, or price. Given how volatile the food market can be, I await the day when Popchips disappear from Sam’s. It’s happened to several other healthy options for me. Lord forbid if I had to forego trickery and learn to cook small healthy portions!

If you visit the Popchips store on Amazon, you’ll see that other flavors and varieties are available. The cost is much higher than the Sam’s Club offering. While they are delicious, especially the bold & crunchy kind especially, part of my routine demands that cost and convenience be part of the equation.

For me, it is the texture that makes these so appealing. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. For those critics who describe them as bland, I simply point out that they are a hell of a lot more healthy than saltines and other crackers. IF you use them as crackers, you will absolutely get more bang for your buck with these compared to any cracker. Having said that, I get tickled when people say, “They don’t have a lot of flavor.” Mostly, they are referring to the sea salt flavor. When someone tells me that, I ask them how much flavor a boring saltine cracker has. Invariably, they don’t know what to say in response.

I used to eat a lot of saltines, especially ones I jazzed up with seasonings. I do sometimes miss making little individual cracker pizzas, usually with a modified version of olive tapenade on them. 70 calories for 5 little square crackers is a bit crazy, though. And especially so when I remember that I could easily eat 20 times that amount.

It’s true that Popchips aren’t stuffed with vitamins. Neither are saltines or most crackers. But they contain staggeringly fewer calories, without the fat. I already eat 100% of my daily fiber everyday through both food and supplements. Popchips are the filler workhorse for me, which satisfy my cravings for texture and flavor. I don’t eat them for their nutritional value. I eat them because they are considerably healthier than what I would otherwise eat. They mitigate my urge to eat a lot of potato chips. As for criticism that Popchips are made from potatoes… well, that’s the point. Potatoes aren’t the enemy, unless you prepare them to be unhealthy. I get tickled with the complex rules and “no” associated with some foods. People are ridiculous. (Which also applies to me, critics.)

When I eat at Mr. Taco Loco, a local Tex-Mex place, I order chicken tacos, prepared with onions, cilantro, and pico de gallo. I discard the tortillas with them and use the Popchips as little scoops for the taco contents. (After a liberal dose of Tajin seasoning on top of it all, of course.) Doing so, even while eating two bags of Popchips with the mix, results in a moderately healthy lunch or supper – while giving me texture, flavor, and a lot of food to satisfy me.

Confession: sometimes, I just eat a bag of chips if I’m on the go or need something to hold me over. The texture works in my brain exactly like Aim toothpaste does, which is difficult to explain to normal people. If I eat a bag of Popchips and drink water, I feel full.

I also eat Popchips like a cracker with tuna and dill relish, or as a filler with Olé healthy tortillas, the kind with a LOT of fiber and about 50 calories each.

Did mention that the texture and crunch are incredible with this chip?

If you’re lucky enough to have a supply of Popchips, give them a try. If you can get the more exotic flavors, I will be jealous.

I will be surprised if you don’t find them to be delicious. If you try them and hate them, feel free to curse me. (No black magic curses, though, please. I’m still growing hair in weird places thanks to the last curse.)

IF you’re looking for a snack that will help you stop eating unhealthy alternatives, Popchips can be the thing that helps you.

Can You Handle The Truth Sauce?

Truth sauce is a product made right here in Arkansas by a proud Arkansan.

I didn’t hear about this product until yesterday. Miraculously, I ordered it, and it arrived today, just in time for lunch.

I heard about it through a social media friend. Something about it beckoned me to try it. Maybe it’s the halo-topped logo or the catchy product name. Whatever the impetus, I am glad I gave the product a try.

This isn’t a paid endorsement. I have never met the company’s owner.

The signature sauce is a subtle blend of flavors akin to barbeque sauce and Thai chili sauce, except that Truth Sauce tastes velvety and does not cross the line into excessive heat. For fans of barbeque sauce, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

If you need an excuse to try it, buy it for someone who loves good food and invite yourself over to try it.

The sauce can be used as a glaze, as a traditional bbq sauce, or as a dipping sauce. Though I have not tried it with egg rolls or rice, I am convinced it will be delicious. The fact that it tastes like a hybrid product in no way lessens the number of ways it can be enjoyed. The same cannot be said of sauces geared specifically toward one kind of food. Barbeque enthusiasts will insist it is the perfect glaze or sauce, while Asian fans will shake their heads in disbelief, knowing it is obviously for their type of eating.

The brown sugar, lime juice, and lemon oil in the sauce combine for something entirely different. Please trust me when I reiterate that the sauce isn’t designed to be hot. “Sweet Heat” is the perfect description, unless the owner wants to add “Sweet Velvety Heat” to the label, which I think more accurately describes the taste and texture.

The sauce and seasoning can be ordered online or picked up in a few locations around Little Rock.

The seasoning is 6.5 oz. The sauce can be ordered in 15oz or a gallon. You might as well save yourself some trouble if you’re an eater and buy the gallon jug. You’re going to need it.

After I ate Truth Sauce for the first time, I found myself in the kitchen, pouring a tablespoon of it and tasting it repeatedly to detect the flavors. You’ll be doing the same.

The seasoning can be used on anything: hamburgers, popcorn, french fries, fish, beans, and probably a hundred things I haven’t thought of.

Below are pictures for nutritional information and ingredients.

https://truthsauceinc.com/

Company Website

Tofurky: Live Life On The Edge

tl;dr: violently unappetizing smell and appearance. Tastes great! (You’ll never see that juxtaposition of words again in your lifetime. Savor them in the same way you savor the door closing when the in-laws depart.)

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ―Orson Welles

Usually, if I say something smells a bit like wet cat food, it wouldn’t be something I’d put in my mouth. In this case, though, the Tofurky Plant-Based Deli Slices 100% smell a bit like wet cat food. Not the elegant kind featured on the tv commercials with well-groomed cats, either. The cats that would eat this type of smell are the ones you’d never stoop down to pet without wondering if you’d need a shot afterward. 

After picking up a packet and looking at it at least a dozen times over the last few months, I bought one today instead of throwing it back in the case. I’m a would-be lazy vegetarian, so this type of product catches my eye. The package claims that the contents are hickory smoked. I don’t see how that is possible, but it must be true; they spent a lot of money on the package’s extra wordage. Take note of the large print on the reverse that proclaims: “Taste Bud High Five!” It could just as easily said, “And Nose/Eye Slap In The Face.” They undoubtedly ran out of money to budget the extra printing.

Note to food manufacturers: brown-orange is not the go-to color I’d recommend for food. Sweet potatoes already have the market cornered on that aesthetic. 

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ―Erma Bombeck

I’m blaming covid for convincing me to try this. My logic is that if a pandemic can get me at any moment, I don’t have a lot to lose by trying something that might smell like cat food and/or taste like used cat litter. Everyone knows that my taste already leans toward “inhuman.” 

The picture I posted doesn’t do justice to the perplexing texture and color of this alternative deli slice. I can’t help but imagine that a team of scientists worked for years, hoping to develop the opposite of whatever appetizing might be. They succeeded. After a lot of thought, NASA engineers associated with the solid waste portion of space travel might have given them ideas. 

If you try this food, do not smell it before putting it on a sandwich, tortilla, or in the cat’s food bowl.

In my case, I used Olé tortillas, lettuce, and horseradish sauce. And another with Sriracha. They were delicious. 

These fake deli slices tasted amazing on them both. 

You might doubt me. I’m sure you doubt me, especially after my review of the alien autopsy fake bacon. (Which is even more amazing cooked on a cookie sheet in a stupidly hot oven.)

To recap: do NOT smell this before trying it. Just put it in your mouth.

“If you use a food app and it calls 911 for you when you input what you’ve eaten, you are at least taking risks, which the happiness experts claim makes a beautiful life out of the most mundane.” – X

Love, X

Olé Xtreme Wellness tortillas

Obviously, reasonable people get their culinary advice from me. I didn’t go wrong with the plant-based alien-skin bacon, did I?

These tortillas are available in tomato, spinach, regular, and dirty cardboard flavor. The last one isn’t true. Not that I care. With the right spices, a lot of things suddenly acquire a new flavor and texture. Dogs bark for a reason.

Although not related, I think any product high in fiber shouldn’t attempt to use the word “regular” in its description. You’ll be regular.

Each tortilla is only 50 calories and each contains 38% of the recommended daily fiber you need. Most of us don’t even eat half the fiber we’re supposed to. If you’re not sure whether you are getting enough, eat two of these and sit patiently on the couch. You’ll have your answer sooner or later. Otherwise, have a big bowl of brown beans and sauerkraut. While it may not work for you, eating a lot of fiber has helped me in ways I wasn’t expecting – not the least of which is people now approach me with considerably more caution.

Unlike many of the other healthy alternative tortillas, the texture for these is normal. Normal by normal standards – not normal by mine, which present another range of potential issues.

I’ve been taking fiber supplements for several months. I’ve also eaten at least 100 packs of these tortillas this year. They allow me to eat less, more quickly, and feel full.

Just don’t start eating them until you discover if you normally eat enough fiber.

Or, ignore me and find out creatively. Go ahead and apologize to your family first, though.

Since I’m shouting out an opinion, I love these. They taste great and have a normal texture.

Shamway

austin-distel-jpHw8ndwJ_Q-unsplash

While I worked at Cargill, one of my white coworkers approached me with his pitch. He was enthusiastic in his approach. What he didn’t know is that I saw him coming from a mile away and was already calculating how best to both amuse myself and learn something from him in the process. Being poor granted me the ability to avoid spending all my money foolishly; most of mine went for rent, pico de gallo, and an acre of french fries.

I’ve been thinking about some of my shenanigans due to the Showtime show, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” starring Kirsten Dunst. It takes a darkly comedic view of MLMs.

I invited my coworker Mitch (not his real name) to come to my residence. At the time I lived with a co-worker from Cargill. He owned a trailer in a park in Johnson. This is the trailer that would later give me the opportunity to say, “A plane crashed on my house.”

Mitch left his car running in the driveway, a common tactic used by converts to the scheme. As I listened, my roommate Ray shook his head in wonderment. He lived for years in California. As a result, his exposure to MLMs was vast. Later, he shared some of the stories of friends who had ruined themselves with such endeavors. I let Mitch do his pitch without being too problematic. It almost killed me. At the end of the first phase of his pitch, he asked me if I was interested. “Yes, but I’m more interested in how this ends for you, in three months or a year because it is going to end. Badly.” Because he’d spent a great deal of time with someone in his upline, he had a pat answer to redirect my point. I then said, “One thing I noticed is that you didn’t identify your company by name at any point. That’s one of the key warning signs for a pitch.” Mitch became nervous. I stood up and shook his hand and told him I wished him the best of luck. “Think of this as a training exercise. I’ll make a list of things that caught my attention.”

Ray stood up and told him, “Your pitch is pretty good, Mitch. I’ve heard a lot of them. But I recommend you quit now and start your own business or do your own thing before you spend a lot of money to make $10.”

Later, I gave Mitch a list of critiques. I made my comedic recommendations alongside my serious ones. He took the list. He stuck with the program for several more months, although after a couple of months, he began to drastically talk about it less. He quit Cargill without notice. Months later, someone told me he lost several thousand dollars buying his merchandise before quitting the MLM.

Over the next few years, I went to several pitches to see how much creativity might be involved. As you would guess, not very much.

Later, as people approached me with new opportunities to own my own company, be my own boss, I varied my responses from amused to indignant to gauge how it affected them. They couldn’t understand that I’d already peeked behind the MLM curtain. I asked them all, “Name one person you know who made the kind of money you claim. I want to talk to them.” No one ever gave me such a name, at least not a reasonable one. “I’ll follow up with you in a year. I hope you strike it rich. I’m rooting for you. And you should feel free to tell me ‘I told you so’ when you do!” No one ever did.

The same was true with timeshares and other similar high-pressure sales. One of the best I ever witnessed was in Mexico during vacation. The presenter was incredibly adept at countering every conceivable question or insight. Discovering that I spoke Spanish, he tried the ‘divide and conquer’ method. I switched to ‘batsh!t crazy’ mode and completely destroyed any means he tried to get back to normal. I ran down the clock and many of the other participants/victims joined me in ruining any chance we’d be stupid enough to buy a timeshare. Despite the free souvenir blankets, ponchos, bottles of tequila, and free meals, I finally got him to admit that each session paid for itself with only ONE person or family signing up. His usual success rate was 1 in 5, much higher than the average. This interaction was one of many that reminded me that when a person argues after the first “No,” you’re being manipulated and it is best to flee by any means necessary.

I learned long ago that you can’t convince a person in the cult of an MLM to listen to reason; they must finish the fatigue and finish line of their own accord, often after weakening countless friendships and connections.

One MLM currently going the rounds had to disclose that less than 2% make more than minimum wage doing it, and very rarely can someone live on the income generated. Most quit after losing more than they ever earned. Having a family member or close friend involved in any MLM is exactly like having a used car salesman living with you.

All of us have experienced the agony of a social media friend getting started in an MLM. The cringe factor is immense. Many of us have learned that it is impossible to tell them they are making a mistake.

MLMs are like religion; those involved want to do all the talking and seldom wish to hear your input.

All of us universally cringe when someone gets snagged by the tendrils of the promise of easy money.

As with some religious views, don’t make the mistake of trying to get people to see reason. They have to discover it for themselves.

Whether it is skincare products, essential oils, nutrition drinks, or clothing, it is never worth it. I am still waiting to get to know one person who has made a living from it. I certainly know a lot of people who have lost their social media friends by abusing their connections with these ‘business opportunities.’

For just an hour a day and $43,543, I’ll teach you how to do the same.

Pest Control

kuma-kum-oBLk_2Iyisg-unsplash

In the “after” of all this, if there is one, many people will take skeptical looks at their spending habits. It will affect everything: grooming, clothing, food, vehicles, dining, and every aspect of our lives. It’s a safe guess that I’m not risking much to predict this. It’s going to be okay to wear last year’s pants (even if they belonged to your grandfather last year), have hair that is so disheveled it puts your head in danger of being entwined in that drooping ceiling fan you never replaced, or make ear wax candles in your mom’s garage.

One of a household’s avoidable expenses is pest control. I’m not referring to your husband, the kids always underfoot, or your brother-in-law Brad, the one who disguises all his humor under poorly crafted insults. Those are nuisances. Now that I think about it, even a beetle in your breakfast cereal is a nuisance too. (Anything is edible if you try to eat it, or so the cliché goes. Also, it gives additional meaning to the word “Captain Crunch.”)

For all those who don’t like to read closely or at all, there are exceptions to everything I’m about to write. This isn’t about those exceptions, caveats, ‘buts,’ or ‘what-ifs.’ It is about the general and avoidable overpayment that many seem driven to regarding pest control for their homes.

Note: in anonymous surveys, a LOT of people have no routine or scheduled insect or extermination service at their residence, much in the same way they pretend they floss more than twice a year or follow their routine scheduled maintenance guides. If you’re among those, that’s good: you’re saying money by not doing pest control. As for your teeth, you only need one to open bottles. That’s okay. In reality, some don’t need pest control, although you’d never know that given the way that pest control companies routinely and dramatically convince you that armies of killer ants are going to eat your earlobes during the night.

But…

If you need pest control, you already own what you need to do it safely yourself: a bit of intelligence, a willingness to do it yourself, and a bit of time to investigate my outrageous claim that you are almost certainly overpaying for pest control for your residence.

If you hire a pest control company to treat your house 4-5 times a year, I recommend that you watch how they do it. Do they use a spray pattern extending into the lawn, do they treat your attic with sprayers, bombs, traps, or other devices? Do they spray all vents, pipes, doors, seals, foundation, seams, and all other points of entry and exposure? How long does it take to complete the treatment?

It’s common to see a pest technician not wearing gloves, eyewear, a mask, or any other protective equipment. This is true even if he or she is using a wide dispersal sprayer. They wouldn’t be doing it if there were a significant risk. For anyone who embarks on a D-I-Y approach, you can buy protective equipment inexpensively. You can also learn the best methods to avoid environmental exposure.

In the best scenario, you’ll wear personal protective equipment which includes a mask, eye protection, and gloves. We’re all going to own these things for the rest of our lives. This is one positive outcome of COVID.

It is possible to do routine spraying yourself, safely and much less expensively. I didn’t believe it myself until I asked a million questions, all of which was confirmed by people doing it as a job.

Each time I encountered someone reluctant to answer a question, it signaled my BS detector. An expert would never fail to give honest information to the consumer giving them their business.

You’ll find that the average pest control company doesn’t want to tell you exactly what chemicals they use, their concentrations, or their exact methodology. Despite me directly asking two of the companies I previously used, neither would divulge exactly what they were using, the concentrations or any of the usage data. Their refusal to tell me followed their promise to send me the MSDS for any chemical, the application sheets, and so forth. One of the companies technicians told me they weren’t going to share this information with me simply because the chemicals he was using could be purchased directly from the internet. While considering engaging another company prior to going D-I-Y, the person trying to ‘sell’ me promised I would get the information. When he emailed back with pricing, I told him that I’d need a list of chemicals and all the related information. He replied back that federal law prevented him from sharing this information. P.S. This isn’t true.

Almost all of them also don’t have matrix pricing that you can use to figure out what everyone else is paying. (Square footage, lot size, attic, basement, etc.) As most of you know, any business that has commission-based sales has a huge level of wiggle room in its pricing structure. It’s precisely why such companies do so much “selling,” and why you almost never see flat pricing on their websites.

Can you imagine going to a new car sales lot and seeing baseline pricing for everything? We’d die of shock.

While you’ll pay at least $70 per treatment (and often much more), the cost of the chemicals being applied to your house is at most a few dollars. Companies have learned how much of a particular chemical is needed to maintain a bug-free environment.

You can learn this, too.

The catch is that you can learn how to minimize how much insecticide you use, including dispersal methods, concentrations, and the critical coverage areas. The chemicals available to professionals are available to you, too.

I’m not recommending a D-I-Y approach to all pests, especially termites, bedbugs or any issue outside the normal scope of routine pest spraying. There are many scenarios where professionals are required. Anyone taking my commentary out of context to state the opposite needs to take a moment to distinguish between ‘routine’ and ‘specialized’ treatments or inspections. (Having said that termite control isn’t rocket surgery, either.)

I found that some companies use bombs in the attic. Some of them use these while you are at home. After grabbing one of the empty cans, I discovered that this is discouraged, even if you are in a new home and are certain that no seepage will occur. The same is true for inside spraying, as they often spray around baseboards, under sinks, and in perimeter areas. While it may ‘safe’ for you and your pets, almost all the literature recommends not being exposed to it, especially until it is dry. But it doesn’t stop extermination companies from spraying while you’re at home.

 

-Don’t use a pest control company which refuses to divulge exactly what they’re using.

-Don’t use a pest control company which won’t give you flat pricing or single-application services. Contracts benefit them, not you.

-If you are generally capable of performing routine household repairs, take the time to see if you are comfortable doing your own pest control.

-Also, if you knew how much training, on average, a new hire receives prior to doing their first ‘hands on,’ you wouldn’t be so reluctant to try it yourself.

In my case, I paid a technician for one of the major pest control companies to use Amazon to show me specifically which chemicals are the safest and do the same function as his company. While he was at it, he showed me a D-I-Y forum that explicitly answered all my concerns. No, it wasn’t an Alex Jones website, either. Because of my enthusiasm, he gave me the information for free because he knew I wouldn’t be a customer. I paid him as a reward. Both of us left very pleased.

I bought everything I needed for 1/2 of just one treatment for a quarterly plan, or 1/8 of my yearly cost. I’m still using the same initial shipment of chemicals I originally bought, pushing the cost to 1/24 of one year’s costs.

Other than a few seizures, it hasn’t affected me at all. And I can’t feel the right side of my face.

I’m just kidding about that last part.

If you take nothing else away from this, I hope you doubt that you’re getting the best value if you’re paying a big company to come say “Hi” to you a few times a year. Even better, that you’re resolved to do this for yourself.

By the way, if you choose the D-I-Y route, you’ll need some earplugs, too. Those pest control people will shout at you for their business.

If you pay a pest control company, get the MSDS for everything being put into your house and watch how it’s done.

 

 

 

 

Post-Holiday Ritual of Ornaments

20200109_130038

These are actually two-sided porcelain ornaments. The colors are rich for the size. I bought these from Snapfish. One of my favorite rituals after the holidays is to take advantage of using last year’s photos to make a few new Xmas ornaments. I have ornaments made frequently, regardless of being on sale; having the ornaments available for what I would call a pittance certainly doesn’t hurt my feelings though. I’m especially proud of catching 3 ̶v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶s̶ people in one picture to make an ornament. Having my stepson smile for a picture almost caused a natural disaster.

Subway

dddd

 

I love Subway. More accurately, I have a love/hate relationship with the eatery. For every great experience or store (such as is usually the case in Eureka Springs), I have a terrible one. Despite it seeming like an exaggeration, I’ve eaten at Subway somewhere around 500 times in my life.

It’s no secret that prices have been inching up in the last few years, mainly after they got rid of $5 footlong promotion. The company has closed a huge number of stores since 2015. Many factors are contributing to its demise, ones not tied to cost. The margins are low, so franchises tend to short-change their employees, both in wages and training. Most keep labor painfully short. We’ve noticed.

Visit any local Subway location and you’ll note a revolving door of faces.

Recently, I noted that some Subways had added a “Tip” selection to their payment kiosks. I have mixed feelings about this.

If Subway were new and tips were on the payment options, I might not stop to consider it carefully. Because I’ve eaten at Subways since they first opened in NWA, it is problematic for it to be an option suddenly. Especially so since I’m standing face-to-face with the employee as I opt-in or out. The sandwich artists are not providing any new value; in fact, I’d say in general that I have to be more careful and repetitive than ever to get my favorite sandwich done the way I like.

That’s not the employee’s fault – that responsibility falls directly on management and the owners.

Whether places like Subway should tip or not is a separate conversation. I’ll agree that’s it not a simple issue.

Most of the time, I get a vegetable sandwich with lettuce, double tomatoes, and Subway spice. That’s it. It is easy to make and cost-effective for the eatery, too.

Generalizing a bit, I’d say that the labor margins have also resulted in less clean stores, longer waits, and dirtier bathrooms. (And a sometimes a comical shortage of napkins.)

Given the uptick in prices, most people realize that they can easily eat a full dine-in meal at another restaurant for about the same price as Subway charges for a combo sandwich meal. In places with many restaurant choices, Subway can’t compete on location, selection, or cost. That didn’t use to be the case.

As an otherwise good tipper, I can see that adding a tip option to the payment isn’t going to go over well for the average Subway customer. I’ve asked several people about it. Most feel a twinge because while they wish to tip when it’s appropriate, they also feel trapped by management’s choice to underwrite the same wages with an upcharge disguised as a tip.