Dr. Randall Crouper had only being working for a week at the Diagnostic Evaluation Center in Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic when he knew he was encountering something he had not learned about in medical school.
“Some of the people I was seeing were profoundly disturbed in a very specific way, and the common contributing factor was Sheetz.”
The affliction, which he calls Sheetz Addiction Syndrome (SAS), can leave people powerless to eat anywhere else, as the Sheetz made-to-order menu seduces them with absolute control over the making of their sandwich or sub. As SAS is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, he is relatively powerless to help them.
“It’s high time my profession started taking this devastating condition seriously.”
Diagnosis can be difficult. For example, refusing to ever leave a Sheetz station is not conclusive by itself.
“It’s also possible someone just happened to be in a Sheetz location by chance when they developed acute onset agoraphobia.”
Dr. Crouper has developed a ten-point questionnaire which, when combined with eye pupil dilation on being shown a picture of a red MTO kiosk, has a 95% sensitivity and 98% specificity in diagnosing this debilitating ailment. He is also hoping to embark on advanced neuroimaging studies to determine if there is a specific part of the brain involved, and has even approached the Sheetz family for funding.
“They did not rule it out but insisted I come in to one of their stores to discuss it over some Fryz and Chicken Stripz. I declined obviously. Just like I would never try crystal meth or injecting heroin.”
Being able to test for a predisposition to SAS would have clear advantages. He postulates the example of a professional from California who is considering moving to the Northeast for work. They could test themselves first and, if it were positive, could elect to move to Tennessee or South Carolina instead.
“They have Pilot and Weigel’s down south but they’re not nearly as nice, so the risk of developing a mental disorder is much lower.”
He introduces a sufferer, Ricky, that he hopes to help. Ricky immediately starts talking about how wonderful Sheetz is. When asked if he’s read Kenneth Womack’s book ‘Made to Order: The Sheetz Story’, Ricky’s eyes bulge and he is momentarily dumbstruck.
“There’s a book? About Sheetz? How the fuck did I not know this.”
Ricky himself disagrees that there is anything wrong with him. If anything, he claims, it’s the rest of the world who are mad for putting up with anything less than the joyous level of convenience his favorite gas station never fails to provide. His solution is simple.
“Just let Sheetz run everything.”
Ricky then had to leave to catch a bus followed by the T so he could dine at the Sheetz in Castle Shannon, as he has never owned a vehicle.