This is why we need epi-pens in schools!


Finally, some good food allergy related news from a school surrounding the use of epinephrine auto-injectors…

English: Adult (0.3mg) and pediatric (0.15mg) ...

Epi-Pens to the rescue!

I for one was growing tired of the tragic stories.  Jared Smyth and his school had an action plan, and it saved his life.  This is how all these types of stories should end!  Congratulations to all involved!  The kid himself, the school nurse, the parents, the administration, the hospital, and the media for covering good news.

Sadly, I can only find one source for the article, while there were a plethora for Ammaria Johnson & Katelyn Carlson.  More media outlets need to pick this up & run with it!  Get the word out there that having epi-pens in schools is a great thing!  Of course, it always helps to educate your child on not taking any food from others… but as evidenced, it’s not always that easy, and accidents do happen.

Crop-dusting for disgusting cell-phone roaches.


This Facebook status seemed quite popular.  Thought I’d blog about it, and get some more input.  There are 2 points here that seem to universally annoy us…  People talking loudly (or at all) on cell phones in public places, and people that talk about disgusting things when you’re trying to eat.

So, I'm sitting at Chick-fil-A tonight, trying to enjoy some chicken nuggets and some chicken noodle soup... and some crazy Yinzer lady is about 4 booths away screaming into her cell phone, talking about infections, site-wounds, dialysis, and MRSA.  Besides it just being rude to be on your phone there in a public place...  Really? Everyone around is trying to eat. I wish I could pass gas on demand. I would have made several runs (pardon the pun) past her table.

So I'm sitting at Chick-fil-A...

The original text…

So, I’m sitting at Chick-fil-A tonight, trying to enjoy some chicken nuggets and some chicken noodle soup… and some crazy Yinzer lady is about 4 booths away screaming into her cell phone, talking about infections, site-wounds, dialysis, and MRSA.

Besides it just being rude to be on your phone there in a public place

Really? Everyone around is trying to eat. I wish I could pass gas on demand. I would have made several runs (pardon the pun) past her table.

Pus oozing from an abscess caused by bacteria—...

Image via Wikipedia

Click the pic above to magnify the first wave of comments, and if you want check out this old post for reference: Excuse me, I’m eating.

So, what’s your take on disgusting topics during meals, public cell phone users, and the unholy intersection of the two?

Chick Fil A 8pc Nuggets

Image by j.reed via Flickr

Excuse me, I’m eating.


Over my lifetime, I’ve amassed a list of words and subjects that I’d rather not discuss while eating.  This includes dining out, eating dinner at home with my wife, with a large group, or even just snacking.

This especially applies to family gatherings.  For some reason, dinner conversation always comes around to operations, infections, and/or feces when I’m with my family, and oddly… this extends to my wife’s family too.

There are just some things I don’t want to think about or even hear mentioned while I’m shoveling food into my face.  I’m I alone in this?  Please tell me I’m not alone.  I can’t watch Dirty Jobs while I’m eating either.

Here’s a short list of words and subjects that I don’t want to hear while I’m eating…

  • Infection / Infected
  • Puss
  • Anything ending in “ectomy
  • Bloated
  • Operation
  • Poop, diarrhea, feces, shit, crap, etc.
  • Diaper (…especially when it leads to a discussion of use and/or contents.)
  • Vomit, “Throw up”, puke, regurgitate, etc.
  • Bile
  • “Soupy” describing anything other than soup.
  • Anything describing a recent doctor’s visit.
  • Anything describing a recent dentist visit.
  • Maggot
  • Blood
  • The word “Hospital”, because it never leads to anything good.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the most offensive.  What would you add to the list?

A little background on my shellfish allergy before I write my next rant of a blog…


Note: I started writing this the other day, and got to a point tonight where it’s so wordy that I’d like it to simply serve as a background to the next blog to show you where I’m coming from, or as the first part to a sort of “To be continued…”


So, Sunday night we had just come home from our 3rd day of Christmas celebration in a row.  Needless to say, we were in a great mood, but pretty tired.  I got online to check my email and see what was up in the world of Facebook, and Yahoo! pointed me to an interesting article from Reader’s Digest that made me wretch in horror and disgust.  This also pointed to several other articles and blogs around the web that divulge the disgusting inexcusable practices of the people who handle your food daily.

Granted, the actions & situations described are certainly not representative of the majority of your wait staff, servers, managers, cooks, chefs, etc. out there… but I find any number of this kind of attitude and described behaviors to be unacceptable.  I was so flustered, I decided to pop some things up on an old message board just so I could sort them out later.  I’m not even sure I’m at a point where they’re all sorted out, but I wanted to get writing while this was still somewhat of a fresh topic to me.  This was initially just an allergy issue to me, but several other side issues have popped up upon further review.  Please, bear with me if I jump form subject to subject before I try to reel it all in.

Generally, I’d like to think that my blogs are mostly amusing… any complaining is usually done within the context of humor, and only marginally serious.  I have used this & other platforms to comment on the state of customer service in the food industry before… generally at the “bottom rung” of fast food places as this is where I usually end up due to dietary needs (no shellfish) and budget issues.

This one, however, is serious to me… and I hope I don’t come off as just ranting, and that the seriousness of these issues is conveyed.

If you know me in person, have dined out with me, or have ready any of my lunacy online… you most likely know what I have a severe shellfish allergy.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it means that I can’t eat any shellfish, or I go into anaphylactic shock.  Not only can I not eat the shellfish (that’s crustaceans & molluscs including but not limited to ,shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab, crayfish, oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, octopi, squid, snails, and probably even scorpions and pill bugs), but I can’t eat any food that comes into contact with it.  That means, if you cook shrimp on the grill, take it off, and put my steak on  without washing the surface, it’s the same as me eating the shrimp.

I certainly can’t expect the restaurant to clean the grill in between every meal, as that’s certainly not productive on their end… I just usually try to see where the shellfish is prepared, and eat from another cooking surface.  That seems easy enough, right?

I get that it’s my responsibility.  Yes, I’ve had an epi pen.  But I’d really love to not ever have the need to use one.  I’ve even considered getting Allergy Cards, but they seem a little pretentious or something… like my verbal reminder isn’t enough.

Well, getting me in to a place with shellfish is an issue in itself.  Why?  Well in with the aforementioned cooking surface issue… there’s just all kinds of stuff that can run through one’s head.  Like not washing a knife when it cuts one thing then another, shares spaces in refrigerators where things may drip on to other things, places where you might grab pizza toppings like crab meat or shrimp without washing your hands before dipping into the next topping, a friend of mine has even told me he had a piece of shrimp show up in his scrambled eggs at an IHOP once… and I believe the same friend even told me that they had a long and heated argument with the servers at a Chinese place where the ‘vegetarian’ eggs rolls contained crab because “crab is not meat”.  Oops… Death!  (Usually I sadly avoid any Chinese places anyway because of the shared cooking surfaces & probably delicious sauces that can be made with oysters or ground brine shrimp.) This basically makes me never able to completely relax in a restaurant where I’m supposed to be out enjoying myself… it’s an odd paradox.

Generally I can find a safe dish if pressed, and especially if I call ahead… but I need to be in an adventurous mood.

Dining out is an important social activity… a very common social activity that brings with it high levels of anxiety for someone like myself.  Not only from the aforementioned game of Russian Roulette Kitchen Edition, but from explaining my allergy to people.  Yes, anxiety from explaining to friends, family, business associates, your server, and anyone else who may inquire as to why you don’t want to try a great new seafood place or even Red Lobster or Long John Silver’s.  Not only can it be embarrassing where it really shouldn’t be… but it inevitable goes down something like this…

Not me:  “Let’s go to T.G.I. Friday’s”

Me:  “Well, I can’t really eat much there besides a salad or a baked potato.”

Not me:  “Huh?” [Looking at me like I’m an alien.]

Me:  “Well, I have a severe shellfish allergy.  I can’t eat anything like shrimp or lobster, or any cooking surfaces that it touches”

Not me:  “Oh, well just don’t order any.”

Me:  “Well, that’s not enough.  I’ve had a trip to the hospital just from eating onion rings fried in the same fryer as shrimp.  If they have grilled shrimp, I can’t get anythign off of the grill… if they have fried shrimp, I can’t get anything out of the fryer.”

Not me:  “Well, can you get steak?”

Me:  “No, they probably make that on a grill.”

Not me:  “Well, can’t you get chicken?”

[Mind you, I have ad this conversation with seemingly intelligent reasonable people.]

Me:  “Well, no… if it’s grilled, well… we covered that, and if it’s fried… that’s a no go either.”

Not me:  “Well, that sucks.  What about … [Names 400 other restaurants, all with prominent shellfish dishes on the menu]… I don’t think they have any shellfish.”

Me: “No.  No.  No.  Nope.  Unh-uh.  No.  No. Nope.  No… ” ad nauseum.  I suggest somewhere else, usually less “classy” because let’s face it… those are the places with no shellfish.

Not me:   “Sigh, OK.”

[I look/feel like an idiot.]

Then sometimes, one of these gems gets tossed in…

Not me:  “Well, that’s just stupid.  I’ve never heard of that.” or “There’s no such thing as food allergies.”

Yes, because you have never heard of it, I must be wrong.  Off to Joe’s Crab Shack!

Not me:  “My uncle Jim’s wife’s neighbor’s cousin’s roomate’s gerbil’s vet’s dry cleaner’s podiatrist was allergic to jelly beans, and he ate a quarter of a jelly bean and swelled up and went to the hospital and stuff and just kept eating bigger pieces until he built up a tolerance”.

Not me:  “Have you tried it lately?  My mechanic’s wife’s niece’s ex-husband had a neighbor who outgrew his allergy to strawberries.”

First off, this type of behavior is stupid… even if the story is real.  It is possible to build up tolerances (allergy shots), and to outgrow allergies… I am well aware of my limitations and have been told by more than one allergy doctor that my allergy is to great to attempt allergy shots and that I’ll never outgrow it.

My favorite comes from family & old friends…

Not me:  “You used to eat at Long John Silver’s!  You can’t be that allergic.”

I know. It’s WEIRD. I get it. Believe me, I get it.  I ate shrimp like a madman when I was young, and each exposure to shellfish since I discovered the allergy kind of seems like the bee sting thing to me, each “attack” gets worse.  After the last one… I don’t want another one.  But science seems to lean toward this being more random and not a straight road to a deadly end.  I really don’t want to be the guy to solve/prove that one.

And, please… if I do go to a restaurant to eat out with you… don’t orders shrimp or lobster and ask me if it’s OK.  Every fiber of my being is screaming “No, it’s not OK.  What are you, a psychopathic masochist that’s into mental torture?” while I tell you it won’t bother me.  Again, clearly my own demon to wrestle with… but really, do you want to be that person?

Still, I feel pressure all the time to just go with the flow, deal with it, and order a salad.  Believe me, a salad more often may be a good idea in my case.  It’s still just not an enjoyable or relaxing thing for me at that point.  We may be conversing, but I’m obsessing over every unidentifiable piece of everything in the dressing and really not processing much of what you’re saying.  Imagine that I told you there’s a box of rat poison in the kitchen right on the shelf between the flour and the sugar, they’re all in identical unmarked jars and there’s only one scoop used in all of ’em.  Do you wanna eat there?

This is really just to show you where I’m coming from.  I realize that it’s not your problem.  I realize that I have some real issues to deal with surrounding my problem.  I realize that this is not a terminal illness or anything that serious.  I’m not trying to get a pity party going for myself.  This is simply to let you know what’s bouncing around in my mind.

It hopefully won’t be long until my next not-unrelated blog… basically pulling quotes form the aforementioned articles and responding one by one.

I’d really like to hear everyone’s opinions of my rant here… am I out of line?  Over-dramatic?  Illustrative?  Insane?  Do you think like me?  Do you have an allergy?

Wendy’s in Dormont (Pittsburgh, PA) – W. LIBERTY #5


Heh. This is an older amusing one that wasn’t covered in my post about past W(aL)D insanity.

This one isn’t really completely in the W(aL)D category, as it’s a legitimate complaint… but still, it’s ridiculous enough to share. Below is the my initial email regarding the incident, and I actually broke my “no calls” rule to talk to a regional manager who was not amused.

You can see what she had to say as it all played out in a thread at PittsburghBeat.com.

At any rate, it pays to make problems like this known.

Enjoy!

-mE.
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

Forwarded Message —-
From: Eric Carroll <me@myaddre.ss>
To: dnstech@wendys.com; dnsadmin@wendys.com
Sent: Mon, January 26, 2009 11:45:04 AM
Subject: Wendy’s in Dormont (Pittsburgh, PA) – W. LIBERTY #5

Hello,

I’d like to share with you a review of my experience at a local Wendy’s (W. LIBERTY #5 according to the Wendy’s store locator), also posted on UrbanSpoon.com. I don’t have very many “bad” reviews up, but this Wendy’s location has gone slow and messed up my order countless times.

I’d like to know how Wendy’s as a corporation feels about restaurants like this, and what (if any) measures are taken by corporate to see that this kind of thing doesn’t go on.

The full text of my review can be viewed here: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346715/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/Wendys-Old-Fashioned-Hamburgers-Dormont-Pittsburgh

But I will also post it here for your consideration:

4084prime

“Dave Thomas would be ashamed…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (63 reviews)

January 26, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Seriously. I know I”ve said these words before about McDonald’s… I get that it’s only fast food, it’s cheap, and that I shouldn’t expect much… but holy cow, is this consistently one of the slowest “fast food” restaurants that I’ve ever been to. Of course, like an idiot, I keep going back hoping that it might someday be an actual convenience. Let me share with you my latest adventure…

Sunday morning, my wife & I were on our way out to my Mom’s house in the ‘Burbs… so we thought we’d get a quick bite to eat. It was nearing the 11:00am mark, so I knew we were going to hit the breakfast/lunch changeover. We skipped the McDormontonald’s because the drive-thru line looked like rush hour in the Liberty tubes. Thankfully, Wendy’s appeared to be a ghost town. There was hardly anyone inside, and there was one car ahead of us in the drive-thru but they were all the way up at the window.

As we pulled up to the speaker to place our order, I asked if they were serving breakfast or lunch, & was informed that they were serving both. So, I ordered the breakfast chicken sandwich combo, and the wife ordered the #2 bacon panini combo.

After receiving the order in what would be considered a long wait in a normal fast food environment but translated to remarkably quick at this location, I pulled into a nearby spot to inspect the goods. (Sadly, a must any more.)We discovered that my order was fine, but the wife had received a sausage panini instead of the ordered bacon panini. I checked the receipt to see if I had mis-ordered the # of the combo. Nope. The receipt clearly stated BACON in that nifty dot-matrix receipt font.

My wife’s not a big fan of sausage patties, and she was reluctantly leaning toward just eating it because time was of the essence. I know I like to eat what I ordered & paid for, so I went inside to get what I thought would be a simple swap-out.

Oh my, was I wrong.

My first encounter was with the young girl at the cash register. I politely stated that we had just gone through the drive-thru and that I wanted to exchange the sausage panini that we had received for the bacon one that we ordered.

I was told that breakfast was over & that hey couldn’t make a bacon one. After a slight pause of disbelief and bewilderment, I told her that I had just been handed the sandwich less that a minute ago through the drive-thru window… and it had been made just seconds before that.

She then yelled for her manager, and I stepped aside so she could help the next customer.

Now, while never working at a fast food establishment, I do understand that changeover time is changeover time… something to do with eggs on the cooking surface and kitchen setup and all sorts of things that are surely beyond my comprehension as the average fast food consumer.

After a wait the manager (coincidentally the very same person who handed me the order through the drive-thru window) came over and I again explained my situation… and he looked at me. Yes. Just stared blankly at me. For an awkwardly long time. I actually started to wonder if he understood English & was capable of hearing. Compelled to break the silence, I even showed him the receipt that clearly said BACON. All caps. No confusion!

Again, I was met with “we’re serving lunch now, we can’t make that”. OK. I understand. I get that. The point now is what can you do for me?

I asked if I could get something else as compensation, and/or get my money back. (I think I was growing visibly frustrated by this point.)

I called the wife, explained to her the complexity of the situation, and she decided upon a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. So, I asked for one of those… and waited… and waited… While a guy who had gone in line in front of me had ordered during my exchange with the manager was waiting too.

After a while he exclaimed with multiple expletives that it was a ridiculously long wait, and how it was un-f’n-believable that a fast food restaurant with 3 people in it and a packed kitchen could go so slow.

I could hardly contain my laughter as I was also driven to the limits of my patience.

After what was surely sufficient time to cook & assemble 20 Jr. Bacon cheeseburgers, I received that, AND my money back for the sausage panini (which was now in the trash right behind the counter). So, I guess I got a free cheeseburger, hash browns & a drink.

I never did get any kind of apology, or admittance that they had messed up the order. (Which bewilders me that one can read bacon off of a screen and put down sausage… but I’m certainly not above making mistakes… so I can’t fault anyone for that.)

I just find it amazing that they weren’t apologizing from the start and presenting a solution instead of waiting for me to come up with one.

You’d think they’d have a “keep the customer happy” policy in place. Don’t they teach you any of this when you go to school to be a manager at Wendy’s?Take mom n’ pop shops… if they screw up an order or take too long, they’d give you a discount or a free drink or a coupon for next time… and they’re certainly taking more of a profit hit than a chain that would do the same thing.

At any rate, don’t go to Wendy’s in Dormont if you’re in a hurry, or if you actually want what you ordered.

I like Wendy’s. I grew up eating at the one in Murrysville, I frequent the one in Canonsburg for lunch. You have decent food for a cheap price, and I generally feel that the quality is better than that of other fast food chains.

I’d love to be able to eat peacefully and grab a quick bite to eat at the Wendy’s closest to where I live.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my experience, and I look forward to your reply.

Thank you for your time, and listening to my story.

-Eric Carroll

me@myaddre.ss

Insanity.

Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers (Dormont) on Urbanspoon