Apparently, emotions run high over sandwich shops and their contests. After Subway issued their apology, I thought the matter would be dropped. But I guess the apology wasn’t quite good enough. In my email box sits a message, instructing me to cut, paste and edit it for use with my local Subway store, as if I weren’t capable of crafting my own message or even deciding for myself whether I wanted to accept the apology I don’t even particularly feel was owed to me. At the heart of the message is this paragraph:
Subway’s response was simply to affirm its contest rules. I understand the grand prize is not intended to benefit one family, but no consideration was given to awarding it to area recreation facilities or parks that benefit the public should a homeschooled student win the contest.
And with it comes notification that we “choose to spend our money elsewhere from now on.” When is enough going to be enough? And just how much validation do we need from a sandwich shop? Subwaygate, as Sunniemom of A Woman On Purpose so affectionately termed it, has taken on a life of its own.
I actually found their apology to be quite amusing, albeit for totally different reasons. I couldn’t get past this line:
To address the inadvertent limitation of our current contest and provide an opportunity for even more kids to improve their fitness…
I need Subway to help improve my children’s fitness about as much as need to be included in their contests to feel validated as a homeschooler. And I really am beginning to believe that really is what this whole snafu is about: validation. Not rights. Not discrimination. Simple validation. That and the fact that the only other news Google Alerts is turning up are items like “Homeschool-Helpers English Country Dance.” Come to think of it, I wonder just how much of the outrage is directly attributable to the fact that there just isn’t much else of eyebrow-raising importance to blog about?
At any rate, OneMom hit the nail on the head in her reasons for boycotting Subway:
This issue is not just about Subway, but it is yet another symptom of a growing discrimination of homeschoolers and evangelical Christians in this country. If we do not stand against it, where will it end? Subway Homeschool Discrimination Around the Web
It isn’t about Subway. It isn’t about the contest. And slipping in the bit about evangelical Christians in response to a contest which included parochial schools shows to what extent we have staked our frustrations with society’s views of homeschooling on Subway. This is about every editorial casting us as “well-meaning amateurs,” every confrontation with an unsupportive family member, every time a stranger asks about our qualifications. All conveniently directed at one faceless entity named Subway.
With the talk of rights, freedoms and even law suits, along with the admonition to remain ever-vigilant, I get the sense that those most invested in the boycott perceive this action similarly to pulling weeds. These are the slights to homeschooling which, if allowed to germinate, will spread and eventually endanger our rights. But, as OneMom rightly points out, Subway’s contest rules are a symptom. A symptom which some have become so focused on, I am beginning to worry about the patient. That patient of course being the public’s perception of homeschoolers.
Rights are something we can fight for. When Nebraska proposed a homeschool testing bill, over a thousand homeschoolers showed up to the state capitol representing almost every county in the state. Even with what seemed like general support of the legislature and the public, the bill died in committee because one group was too vocal and too organized to let it slip through. When it is a matter of rights, we dig in our heels, put up a fight and resist compromise. That is what has gotten us where we are today.
But is this the model we should follow for every fight? It is one thing to march on the capitol; it is quite another thing to march on the general public. It seems to me we should be building bridges, not holding them hostage. Subway’s capitulation did not surprise me. What company in its right mind is going to stand up to an organized customer base over a contest? I am sure they would love to have you writing stories about their sandwiches with your children as much as they were thrilled at the opportunity to have schools send flyers home with children encouraging participation. Think what positive press they would have built with us had they tweaked their prizes a bit and sent out a press release to homeschool groups across the nation.
But they didn’t think about it because they were focused on the traditional education model and how to profit from the nation’s current focus on childhood obesity. Let’s not become so focused on Subway that we forget it is only a symptom. The real issue lies deeper and is likely not well-served through boycotts, hyperbolic speech and overly aggressive behavior on the part of our organized networks.
Added: In case you haven’t read it, Tammy over at Just Enough, Nothing More has an excellent post on the “situation.” This I found interesting:
But if we look at our social history, it’s the emotional reactions that get heard. It’s when people cry out far beyond what is proportionately expected that things change. It’s when people are really pissed of that stories get in the news. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
As I noted above, I think this has been a successful model for dealing with the state. I do not believe, however, that it is the best way to deal with public opinion, and while Subway had no choice but do something in response to the outrage, the real question is what this does for homeschooling in the minds of the average American, not what it does for Subway corporation’s opinion which thinks predominantly in dollars and sense.
via Mom is Teaching
Update: OneMom asks a good question: Why doesn’t LIFE get this kind of attention? Now, really you could insert whatever your pet issue is, but abortion certainly ranks as one of the great controversies of America. Almost up there with Subway contests, I guess. But I have some ideas as to why this might have garnered more attention (and this “me” is a sort of general me, if that makes any sense. It does not necessarily reflect my actual viewpoints):
- It affects me. Abortion affects somebody else.
- There was hope of victory.
- It was new. The abortion debate seems to have worn on even the most passionate.
- Writing a letter and eating at Quizno’s really does not make anyone uncomfortable. Talking about abortion seems to make everyone uncomfortable.