Honey Maple Turkey Sandwich

For over a month, a note has been sitting on my desktop—the note reads, simply, “honey maple turkey sandwich.” It was written on an airplane en route to Florida, a flight that left at 5AM, a flight I did not sleep ahead of taking, a flight I dreaded before it transpired and resented while it was transpiring.

Whenever I am exhausted and irritable and discontent I become selfish and nihilistic. Whenever I feel this way, I generally make the choice to consume meat, because the thought of another living thing suffering for my temporary benefit pleases me. That Friday morning was no exception. And so, when the stewardess wheeled the cart of pay-to-play foodstuffs to my aisle, and the man sitting next to me purchased a turkey sandwich, I did the same. I apathetically handed her my credit card, watched her swipe it, and nodded when she informed me I had been charged the unethical price of $8 for a cellophane bag of nitrates. I opened said bag of nitrates, removed its contents, and placed them in my mouth. The taste that followed generated a violent reaction from my palate. It was a taste I was not anticipating in the slightest, a taste I found genuinely shocking. It was the taste of high fructose corn syrup in its purest, least distilled form, a taste I have never associated with turkey or bread, the primary components of the sandwich I had purchased. Horrified and confused, I looked at the cellophane—it was there I read the words, “honey maple turkey sandwich.”

Now, I do not make $8 sandwich money. As such, I am not in the business of purchasing and then discarding $8 sandwiches. And, more to the point, I had already abandoned my ethics by acquiring the sandwich in the first place, so I felt compelled to continue eating it. Resigned to my fate, I did so, choking down its diabetes-inducing sweetness while blankly staring at the seat-back television screen of the man to my right, who had theoretically purchased his sandwich knowing full well what, exactly, he was getting himself into when he ordered. He appeared to be, if not explicitly enjoying it, at least accepting it. He did not appear to be displeased by its existence.

He was watching Fox News, which was “reporting” on the potential fallout of Donald Trump’s latest horrific action or statement, the specifics of which I can no longer recall because, well, Christ, there’s been so many of them, how could I, or anyone for that matter, be expected to keep a mental tally of them all? I looked at his seat-back television, and I looked beyond it, to a sea of other seat-back televisions, all of which were playing the same newscast. The only one that wasn’t playing it was playing a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory.” I knew, in that moment, that the person on the aircraft I had the most in common with was the one watching a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory.” The thought gave me no solace. Everyone watching Fox News appeared to be, if not explicitly enjoying it, at least accepting it.

In the past, whenever anyone has asked me if I’m scared Donald Trump might become the next President of the United States, I’ve responded in the negative, convinced he’d lose because we’re not living in a circa-2004 dystopian Philip Roth novel, we’re living on Earth, and the idea of someone so xenophobic and sexist and narcissistic and with such a propensity to both instill and encourage violence in his constituents felt so patently absurd. But today I looked at the most recent poll numbers, and my mind instantly returned to that airplane, and that sandwich, and those seat-back televisions, and a chill ran up my spine.

I realized that I am not the only person, when exhausted and irritable and discontent, who becomes selfish and nihilistic. I realized that while my exhaustion and irritability and discontent was a temporary affliction, for others it was decidedly less so. For others, it had permanence.

I realized that Donald Trump is the honey maple turkey sandwich of candidates. And that some people purchase it knowing full well what, exactly, they are getting themselves into. If not explicitly enjoying it, they at least accept it. My spine, naturally, remains chilled.

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