The following scenario has unfolded this way, almost daily, for decades. Yet every time is as hotly frustrating as the first. Be warned. It is graphic.

After placing my order and receiving some sort of affirmation that it's been understood (a ''Yep''; a nod; a confident high five), I watch, helpless, as the sandwich maker constructs my sandwich according to our agreed-upon specifications only to, at the last second, dump black pepper all over it. No, motherfucker. Please do not put black pepper on my sandwich, unless I ask for it. (I will not.)

Before we go further, a disclosure: I am aware that other people think this objection makes me insane. Becoming upset because the second-most common seasoning was added to a sandwich that ranges in price from $4 (any nameless deli in Brooklyn) to $15 (Egg Shop near Gawker HQ) is kind of crazy! But here's something even more preposterous (and rude): Dousing a delicious sandwich with a strong and unrequested seasoning that ruins the carefully constructed layers of flavor I've designed.

Also: All ideas now understood to be great initially seemed crazy. Giving our kids smallpox to prevent them from getting smallpox? Refreshing Coca Cola without a trace of cocaine inside it? Raincoats for dogs?

Am I a visionary eater trapped in an ignorant food time? Yes, probably. Moving on.

To some degree, the black pepper problem is similar to the more commonly understood frustration of having mayonnaise involuntarily added to your sandwich. There are two key differences, however, that prove that the black pepper violation is much, much worse: 1) Unlike gelatinous mayo, which can be scraped off with relative ease, ground peppercorns stick permanently to meat or lettuce, like grains of beach sand clinging to a sweaty calf, and 2) Mayo is pretty good and compliments the majority of sandwiches whereas black pepper—if you have a refined palate, as I do—overwhelms everything it touches.

This gets to the crux of my black pepper argument: It is a seasoning that gains nothing by being added to a sandwich (or dish*) as it's being prepared. The sandwich will taste exactly the same if the pepper is poured on last. And if you disagree, fine—request that it's added to your dish as it's being made. The point is: You should have to ask for black pepper on your sandwich.

As things are now, though, the opposite is true: You have to specify "no black pepper" with every order, even though black pepper is almost never listed as one of the ingredients of your sandwich. Forget to mention your request because you were distracted? Tough shit—you're definitely getting black pepper now.

Why and how did this become the default? Why assume everyone will enjoy the heavy-handed flavor of black pepper? The same goes for perfume or cologne in confined areas, like an office or airplane, but I don't have time for that right now because I have to go soon.

There are people—loved ones, even—who respond to my black pepper concern with an obvious lie. "You can't even taste it!" they say. Even if that insane statement were somehow true, it would only make my point for me: Why automatically add a seasoning you can't even taste? (It's not true. I can always taste it.)

Colleagues have compared my repeated complaints about pepper to those of a child. Well, to them I ask: What's more childish—understanding the different needs and tastes of other people or mocking brave heroes when they stand up for their rights? The answer is clear.

Please do not put black pepper on my sandwich.

*scrambled eggs.

[Image via Jim Cooke, photo via Shutterstock]

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