In these uncertain times, I have a small silly certainty. I know for sure that whenever I will go, I will find a place that is always the same, independently from where I am. It does not matter if you are in New York, Rome, Chamonix, Sydney, Amsterdam or in another city, this place will always have the same interior, and sometimes exterior, of the other places. With its green and yellow sign, it welcomes you in every big or small city.
In this place, you know that you will not get any surprise. You know that you will not be disappointed, or at least, you know that the “food standards” are, and always will be, the same as the others. This place will always offer that same menu and drinks. Even if you do not speak the official language of the country, you will still be able to understand and order from the menu the same thing you ate in Rio De Janeiro, Rome, Venice or London.
Perhaps, it will not have the same exact taste or perhaps it will. Some people will need to close their eyes while eating their food. Others will only need to sit inside the fast food, while some will need to cover their ears in order to not hear foreign languages. And then, the “magic” takes place: you can be wherever you want. You can, for a minute or for the entire duration of your meal, be in Vienna, Sydney, Rome, Oslo, and Miami or in every place, city you want to be.
This is the magic of Subway (and of the other numerous fast food franchising). Last year, Subway surpassed McDonald’s and became the largest restaurant chain in terms of units. 33,749 Subway against 32,737 McDonald’s.
It’s called globalization. At the beginning I hated it, I thought each country had to keep its identity without being influenced by the others. Then, I started to accept it. We all have different tastes and preferences, so it’s a good thing to have the possibility to choose whatever you want to eat, wherever you are.
Now, after several movings (or move outs?) and travels, I find Subway very reassuring. It’s not that I eat there (my brother sometimes does and I just steal his chips!), but the fact that this little fast food could be found everywhere, it’s so comforting to me. It’s a kind of certainty that nobody can take away from me.
In New York, I had three or four Subway at one, two blocks from my apartment. In Rome (Italy), one. In Chamonix (France), another one. And where I’m moving soon (Netherlands), there will be another one. All people have their certainties. Some are more important than others. Some are untouchable, others exchangeable. Some are fundamentals, others frivolous. I have mine too: some are essentials and others silly.
However, Subway has recently become one of the trivial certainties of my life. I know that I will find one wherever I’ll go. I know that when I’ll pass by, I’ll remember where I’ve been and where I’m now (or just close my eyes and dream to be somewhere else). I know that if I feel sad, homesick or just nostalgic, I’ll only need to walk in, relax and smile in front of the numerous similarities of the “world Subway”. I know that if I feel happy and see it, I’ll think about all the others Subway I passed by, and I’ll reflect on how many things, choices, changes, decisions I’ve made until now and then.
I know that this is a weird kind of certainty, but it works for me. Subway always reminds me at the best periods (and not because I ate there) of my life. In all the places where I was happy, have created something (like friendships), realized projects and little dreams, there was at least one Subway. Is this a coincidence? Maybe. But I do not believe in coincidences and I have this small, silly certainty that Subway is a part (ok, very little part) of “my world”.