The Sandwich Nazi
No Sandwich for you.
The enlightened residents of the Fraser Valley recognize Salam Kahil—also known as the “Sandwich Nazi”—for his delicious three pound submarine sandwiches, imported European meats and cheeses, and politically incorrect humour. The title “Sandwich Nazi” comes from Kahil’s straightforward sign on La Charcuterie’s door: “If you can’t handle nudity or profanity, then don’t come in.” “I don’t put up with complaints,” Kahil says. His business has thrived for the past 26 years, as he has given only the very best ingredients to his customers, and kicks out anyone who accuses that his meats or cheeses aren’t fresh.
Recently, Kahil suffered a near-death experience that left him thankful for his existence. On July 4th of this year, while driving home after a long day’s work, Salam got stuck in traffic on Highway #1. Within seconds, he was rear-ended by a semi-trailer going 90km/h, carrying a 140,000 pound load. “He hit me so hard it sounded like a bomb,” Kahil says. “The very last thing I remember is my Volvo being pushed from the right lane to the left lane and then being pushed into the meridian. When I woke up, the doctors told me there was nothing wrong, and they already checked me out.”
Two weeks later, the Sandwich Nazi suffered from a pain in his chest that was worsening by the minute, so he visted an urgent care centre. Once again, doctors reassured him he was healthy and should go back to work. On July 20th, Kahil woke up in such agony that he questioned whether to go to work or stay home.
“I came in and was serving a regular customer,” Kahil says, “I told him I was dying, since I knew that I was. So I jumped on my counter to die. It was almost like a switch shut off; there was a beautiful feeling of floating like a feather in the wind.” Just at that moment, a B.C. ambulance supervisor came in for a sandwich, took one look at Kahil, and drove him straight to the hospital. They rushed Kahil into the operating room, where doctors discovered his aorta had been damaged during his prior accident. After an 8.5 hour operation, Kahil woke up. If the ambulance crew hadn’t come into his delicatessen exactly when they had, he would have died in less than two minutes.
Now, less than two months later, the Sandwich Nazi is at it again. “I’m still here,” he says, “obnoxious as ever; nothing’s changed.” Surprisingly, Kahil wasn’t always the “Sandwich Nazi.”
“As a kid, I went to a Muslim school,” he says, “and they kicked my ass out. Then they sent me to another Muslim school... and they kicked my ass out again within a week. Finally they took me to a Catholic school. I was the cutest boy, they took me in instantly.” Kahil went to a minimum of three elementary schools a year, always moving around because he was so mischievous.
When he came to Canada, Kahil decided to attend the University of Montreal, where he studied mechanical engineering. “I studied HVAC system design, noise control, sprinkler systems, instrumentation operation, thermodynamics 1 & 2,” he recalls. “I was so bright my professor let me skip the final exam.
I solved every exercise in the book.” To pay for his schooling and living expenses, the Sandwich Nazi worked as a gigolo from the age of 14 to 29. What made him decide to become a male escort? “I don’t know,” he says, “I’ve never been in debt and I don’t like to be in debt. I was a cute thing, I guess. But at the age of 29, my beauty was fading, so I knew I wasn’t going to be a gigolo forever.” When asked why he isn’t an engineer anymore, Kahil responds, “I don’t take orders. Typical Lebanese attitude.”
Because of his accident, Kahil was left with permanent injuries including constant headaches and 2240 decibel tinnitus. “I have a grade two concussion, vessel changes in my brain, white spots on both sides, and I still function...isn’t that f***ing weird? I still show up for work. What an idiot! That’s what I call dedication.”
Kahil also has a passion for the homeless, so when he opened his deli 26 years ago he knew that it was the perfect way to help. “My motto,” he says, “Is give more, expect less, and you’ll always have extra.” On the last Saturday of each month, the Sandwich Nazi’s customers volunteer their time to make 250 sandwiches in less than an hour, and are rewarded with a sandwich for their efforts. After each sandwich is bagged with a fruit and a dessert, Kahil drives to East Hastings and Pigeon Park in downtown Vancouver and hands them out. “I’m not very religious,” he says, “It doesn’t matter how rich you are, I think people should always help people.We would have a way better society [if we didn’t] count on and blame the government to give.
I [took a test from] my psychiatrist and I scored 55%... That means I’m legally mentally disabled in Canada. I love this country, anything to put you on welfare,” Kahil quips. “The government is too much of a big machine to look after people on the street, a lot of people like you and me. We can see it up close, instead of some government worker sitting in his office in the 26th floor in Ottawa.”
By helping others, the Sandwich Nazi believes he was spared on the freeway. “Maybe I should start my own religion,” he quips. “All of the sandwiches I have been giving to the homeless people paid off.” Kahil looks around his bustling deli and declares, “I’m a very blessed man, “ then smiling, “and the best thing that happened to Canada.”
You can taste the Sandwich Nazi’s meat at 19080-96th Avenue Unit 8 in Surrey.