Shelby takes a picture of Cal Poly's Subway

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Trying to Report on Cal Poly’s 24/7 Subway

Ask a person what comes to mind when they hear the word “Subway” and you’re likely to hear a variety of responses: “Can smell it from a mile away,” “Love the Italian Herbs & Cheese,” “I haven’t been since the whole yoga mat thing came out,” references to questionable Jared Fogle memes, etc. But, ask any student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, the same question and I bet you my savings account (a whopping $5.76, mind you) that their response will allude to the campus’ 24/7 Subway, in some shape or form.

As the only 24/7 establishment on campus, most Cal Poly students have probably had to “Eat Fresh” at one point or another in order to simultaneously absorb obscene amounts of information and satiate hunger pangs in the dead of night.

Thus, a story idea was born for our group – What are the most craziest, endearing, and wholesome events to go down (preferably during the wee hours of the night) in a Cal Poly around-the-clock dining staple? What has its effect been on the students since its opening in 2012?

Prepping for Interviewing
From left to right: Shelby Dewberry and Rachel Foote have a quick pep talk before getting ready to interview a source.

And, for a hot minute, it seemed like this Project 2 would be smooth sailing as the Store Manager, Mauricio Vergara, assured us that the powers that be (AKA Subway Corporate) would be accommodating to all our reporting needs once they were provided a detailed accounting of our plans for audio and video. The email in question was subsequently sent at the midway point of the first week for the project, and we waited with bated breath for the go-ahead to interview within the campus Subway and its employees with relative freedom. This is when the hot minute ended and the avalanche of despair began.

“What is an avalanche of despair?,” you may ask. Why, merely our group’s burgeoning propensity for having the worst luck in acquiring sources.

The Regional Manager’s, Jose Aguilar, response to our earnest inquiry was that we would only be allowed to shoot audio or video within the Subway as long as he was present. After momentarily panicking, we decided to settle on agreeing and booking the coming Friday as a time to gather all the necessary footage and interviews under Aguilar’s undoubtedly thorough supervision.

Friday eventually came but, unfortunately for us, Aguilar did not. Due to a last-minute trip to Santa Barbara, he was unable to attend our filming session at Cal Poly’s Subway on Friday and therefore we were unable to obtain said footage. Not only did this create another reason that our group will vehemently chant “Buck the Gauchos” at the next Cal Poly SLO vs. UCSB soccer game, it threw a very large wrench into our best-laid plans.

Or, as disgruntled, fellow group member, Kevin Schindler put it, “Subway, more like sub-par.”

Reminiscent of our first project with the Veterans Success Center, we settled on winging it to the best of our ability and obtaining sources through mostly ambushing random people outside of Subway late at night.

Photographing the view from Cal Poly Subway
Shelby Dewberry taking a picture of the view outside Cal Poly Subway’s doors during a late-night visit.

Like any emotional rollercoaster worth its salt, there have been some highs along the way in the form of magically obtaining interviews from current and former employees as well as an email response from the Regional Manager (which is currently mysteriously encoded in a PDF format that refuses to open).

The group interviewing former Cal Poly Subway employee, Liberal Studies sophomore Marina Salluce
From left to right: Kevin Schindler, Rachel Foote, and Shelby Dewberry work in tandem to interview Liberal Studies sophomore Marina Salluce about her former experience of working at Cal Poly’s Subway.

For example, a notable highlight from interviewing Liberal Studies sophomore Marina Salluce was this quote: “Probably like the weirdest thing I saw at the Cal Poly campus [Subway] is that one girl came in one night and stripped on a table.”

If nothing else, we, as a collective, are proud to have captured such a sound bite and will forever treasure it in memory of this arduous journey in creating a whimsical, character-driven story on Cal Poly’s 24/7 Subway.

There was, of course, the occasional intrusive thought of changing the story angle to better reflect our trials and tribulations with the facility. “‘Eat fresh’? More like ‘Eat Sketch’: Why we think the Subway franchise has something to hide,” said Rachel after a particularly trying ordeal in getting a late-night Subway employee to talk to us.

But, alas, we persisted in the name of journalistic integrity and sheer stubbornness.

And, in regards to the lesson our group is beginning to learn about this class as well as the story itself, Shelby concluded that “This was a lot more challenging than I suspected it would be.”