It’s around 10:45 a.m. I’m eating a sausage sandwich. Forget about Cheerios.
It wasn’t planned this way. Just an hour or so earlier, I was on my way to work when I noticed a crowd in the parking lot at the strip mall at Johnson Street and Jackson Boulevard in Elkhart — people waiting to partake in Volcano Pizza’s annual sausage sandwich sale. The line was shorter than I can recall over the past few years, so I made an unexpected pit stop.
Backtrack to 9:40 a.m. I’m in line. A hairdresser and about 30 other people are in front of me. It’s chilly, drizzling slightly (a contrast to the heat last year). One woman up ahead has an umbrella. The line is inching along. People are leaving, each, seemingly, with a haul of several bags of sandwiches. It might be a while before I get to the front.
“She’s got more than she can almost carry,” one man says, eyeing a woman hauling a box holding about five bags.
The hairdresser decides to “bail,” as she puts it, and goes back to work. Someone else from the shop will come later and brave the line (which is getting longer and longer as the clock ticks).
The man now in front of me says he does it every year. He’s planning to get three sandwiches.
It’s around 10:05 a.m. and Ed Ernstes from WSBT-TV shows up to do a feature piece for the news. This is a tradition, after all — the sandwich sale happens every year, attracting mobs of people.
“This is a very humbling experience each year,” Volcano Pizza owner Fritz Campanello will later tell Ernstes in an interview I overhear.
For now, though, the TV reporter is having a tough time finding someone willing to comment on camera. “Tough crowd,” he quips.
Finally, one woman relents, puts on the microphone and takes a place in front of the camera. “It’s a summer treat you just kind of look forward to,” she says.
It’s 10:10 a.m. I’m almost at the front of the line and around 80 people, I estimate, are behind me. The line’s about twice as long as when I arrived.
“Am I going to get one for my old dad?” a man further back in line says, hanging up his cell phone. “How do you answer that?”
Finally, I’m there at the promised land. It’s 10:20 a.m. I place my order and quickly get three bags (for me and several Elkhart Truth staffers).
Fast forward to 11 a.m. My sandwich wrapper is empty, my stomach full. It’s getting close to lunch. What should I have?