Title: Streetcar Sandwiches
Author: Curtis Orloff
Genre: Performing Arts/Screenplay
Streetcar Sandwiches is a screenplay showing the efforts the owner of a sandwich shop in Uptown New Orleans undertakes to keep her business running. Not only does she have to deal with a menagerie of all types of employees, she has to comply with onerous and often conflicting regulations from several government bureaus. How she handles what turns into an ordeal threatens to change her naturally optimistic and pleasant personality. It leads directly to an outcome that could only have occurred in the Big Easy.
It has always been a pet peeve of mine that people equate niceness with mental deficiency. It is an axiom tough guys finish first while nice guys finish last, or even have to be taken care of. Being aggressive has become an attribute. Look at Patton, Steven Jobs, or even Admiral King, who was notoriously known as being even tempered, “always mad.” Name one national hero who was known for his niceness and concern for others. If you do, it is in human services, as Mother Teresa, Jane Adams, or Helen Keller, never a titan of industry or commerce.
But that cliché’ is all wrong. One can be savvy, industrious, and wise while treating each other with respect. One can care about them. In fact, doing so reaps serendipitous rewards. Good things happen, as what occurred in the story “Streetcar Sandwiches”. One act of unnecessary and undeserved kindness turned imminent defeat into victory. Of course, it was followed up with a lot of subterfuge once what had been revealed became apparent. As I implied, nice people aren’t dumb.
In a similar vein the best way to handle overbearing, overregulating governments is to be yourself. Notice how they always demand conformity, in speech, dress, and comportment. They love synchronic marches. The definition of a good and proper person is how well one represents the ideal. And who is this ideal? Whatever the power that be decide. Sure, in the military and in corporations one has to conform. But as long as one knows why he is putting on a mask he will be fine. It is when one gives up selfhood to strive to become what others require, when one is lost.
I did not know it at the time but I was more rebellious running my sandwich shop than I was as a boisterous student activist, getting in the papers every time I was arrested. Authoritative entities can’t handle spontaneity or individualistic expressions of personality. Know what seeded the demise of the Warsaw Pact? All those Young Pioneers loved Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins—and Levi Jeans. They risked social ostracism and even punishment just so they could express themselves.
That is why individuals throughout history brought down empires, ended repression. Gandhi, Lech Walesa, it doesn’t matter who you are. Anna Walentynowicz was a cranewoman who had had enough. She was instrumental in founding the Polish trade union Solidarity. A cranewoman!
Why is this the case? How does this happen over and over? Those who turn people into cogs never last. They may start a movement, as I started one in college, and strive to stay attached, stay current, be the ideal person. But all movements eventually end, or whirl out of control, throwing everyone off. Quite suddenly too. Look at the USSR. Those bureaucrats I fought to save my sandwich shop and my employees’ jobs had no idea how badly their ignorant regulations were hurting businesses. They were strangling the golden goose. But before they went too far, and , of course, blamed the golden goose for its demise, I stopped them. Just by being myself, and applying a little savvy.