Review: Things To Do While Waiting For Your Bodega Sandwich

Things To Do While Waiting For Your Bodega Sandwich
Comic, Siah Files, 12 pgs,, $14

Sad as it is to admit, I have never known the pleasures of the bodega sandwich. Have I had sandwiches from a deli? Yes. Of course. Have I ordered a sandwich from a surly shopkeep who then crossed a boundary by leaning over my table later and asking, “How’s that sandwich treating you?” You know it, buddy. Are these experiences transferable to the ‘bodega sandwich’ experience? Absolutely not. As such, it’s best to be prepared for the unknown, and when I do finally find myself in line for that bodega sandwich, I’ll be happy that I read Siah Files’ Things To Do While Waiting For Your Bodega Sandwich.

In TTDWWFYBS, Files outlines 11 steps that are, to my outsider understanding, vital to the sandwich purchasing process. “1. Look Around. 2. Rock back and forth a ‘lil.” I’m good at both, so I’m feeling comfortable so far. Things get a little more adventurous from there. “Wander the aisles looking for snacks,” “admit you’re not really looking for snacks while you look for the fabled bodega cat.” In Files’ estimation, every bodega should have one of these. Preferably resting on top of a crate of Monster Energy.

Rendered in blue ink, and with the bulk of the pages made up of text, the cartooning in TTDWWFYBS does a great job of highlighting the minutiae that is waiting for your food. Each step is accompanied by the relevant object (or animal) and no other distractions. The specificity of each drawing lends well to the ‘instructional’ feel of the work, enhancing the feeling of boredom, and the tendency to fixate on random objects that comes with killing time while waiting for something tasty.

The steps get a little more introspective, culminating in the reveal that, ultimately, the sandwich ordering process is just as good a place as any to hyperfixate and ruminate on your insecurities. On step 11, Files instructs you to “consider the person you’ll be after the year you’ve had. Will you maintain the strengths and personal growth you’ve found since the world collapsed around your head.” It’s a question that hits home. These innocuous and secondary processes may be a part of our attempt to return to normalcy, but the rest of the world isn’t the same as the inside of that sandwich wrapper anymore. It’s something that many have spent the last two years thinking about, and Files does an excellent job of (literally) illustrating it. I hope I can use these tips sooner rather than later. I’m getting hungry.