‘Sandwich idioms’ that apply surprisingly well to office witches
I spend quite a bit of time mulling over my failings as a manager: I’m never as organized as I wish I could be; I struggle to motivate and rally members of my team; our product (a magazine) falls far short of what it could be that, for cascading reasons, ultimately lies in my inability to raise the bar.
I’m usually a solutions-oriented person, but at some stage in this job, I checked out and stopped trying. I’d like to think that I usually take responsibility for my actions and failings—maybe I still do, hence the frequent melancholic mulling—but in this particular job, I became the victim in my own head at some stage and now have a slew of excuses for anyone who would listen. As a middle manager, I point the finger of blame at schlocky upper management and insubordinate subordinates (and indirect reports—another story for another day).
While throwing myself a pity party about middle management woes and being sandwiched between a deplorable boss and recalcitrant staff, I aimlessly surfed my way to a list of “sandwich” idioms that, to my amusement, felt too obviously applicable to my work situation:
A Few Sandwiches Short of a Picnic
A pejorative phrase meaning not very intelligent or of questionable mental capacity. It can appear in many different forms and variations (for example: a few bricks shy of a load, a few cards shy of a full deck, etc.).
Provided Example: He says he’s going to start a business selling bees as pets. I think he may be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
My Company Example: The sales director, in trying to avoid having to sell a new category of products, repeatedly asked if adding this new category would “digest” our brand DNA, when she likely meant “dilute”. She’s not only lazy AF but a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Something that is or has become hopelessly chaotic, disorganized, complicated, uncontrollable, etc.
Provided Example: I feel like the whole tax system is one big soup sandwich. Seriously, how on earth did it ever become this complicated?
Provided Example: If the project manager doesn’t keep a tight rein from beginning to end, these sprawling projects can quickly turn into soup sandwiches.
My Company Example: The managing director boasted about “cutting costs” by not replacing the staff from the 7-person events team when 6 of them quit. When she hired her BFF into some fake-title role and put her in charge of organising our magazine’s massive annual event, it quickly became a total soup sandwich.
Someone who is completely unhinged, out of control, or in an incoherent mental state.
Provided Example: When I enlisted into the Army, I was nothing but a good-for-nothing soup sandwich. But they taught me to be disciplined, organized, motivated, and resilient in the face of adversity.
Provided Example: After seeing how she flipped her lid at her students, everyone is starting to think she’s just a soup sandwich.
My Company Example: The managing director is a soup sandwich, demanding a 300-plus page September issue—just because it was done last year when the magazine was under the previous management and she does not want to lose face—yet at the same time telling us to reduce spending on freelance writers, and wasting our time in weekly Monday morning meetings that then spawn multiple meetings after to discuss matters that could have been settled with a simple email.
Take a Bite of the Reality Sandwich
To recognize and address certain delusions, flaws, or misconceptions regarding a particular situation or task at hand. Most often used as office jargon in a business or place of work.
Provided Example: I know you think this new product will solve all of our problems, but you really need to take a bite of the reality sandwich.
My Company Example: The managing director says her fengshui master told her that her job is safe for the next 8 years. But revenues are down by almost a million dollars to date this year and she has no strategy on how to turn things around, other than banging the table and telling the sales team to hit their targets. Sooner or later, she’ll have to take a bite of the reality sandwich—or the CEO will.
The Meat in the Sandwich
A neutral party who must interact with two people or groups in conflict. Primarily heard in UK, Australia.
Provided Example: Those two had a fight recently, so I’m afraid I’ll be the meat in the sandwich if we all go out together.
Provided Example: A child of divorced parents is often the meat in the sandwich.
My Company Example: Given the mutual disenchantment between me and the fashion editor, the subeditor is the meat in the sandwich, having the task of chasing the fashion editor for late stories and explaining why her writing was edited even though she thinks it’s perfect.
A punch in the mouth.
Provided Example: If you keep mocking me, you’re going to get a knuckle sandwich!
My Company Example: Every Monday Morning when the managing director issues “I want it by tomorrow” demands for inconsequential matters, I fantasize about feeding her a knuckle sandwich or three.