Wait. What? (The Bob Evans saga continues.)


I never emailed these names.  Seriously.  Someone must have sent Jon the text of my blog, or a link to my blog.  My original email contained the names which I then changed to something I thought would be ridiculous and obvious, so I didn’t accidentally call out another real employee.

Am I being trolled?

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 8:54 PM, “0503, BER” <Unit_503@bobevans.com> wrote:

Hello,

                I am following up on a bad review that we had charge to our store.  I was hoping to get some more information, as we believed our location received this review in error.  We don’t have servers by either name mentioned in the review (Maleficient and Lincoln), and would like to find out which store you were actually at.  Then we can send this along to them, so that they can address these issues.  Thank you for your time.

Jon Herrmann
General Manager
Bob Evans #503
Bridgeville, PA
(412) 257-1369

Shenanigans. ☘

I wrote back.  Nothing interesting besides pointing out that I never sent those names in an email.

I also got an email from LeAnn confirming our Dormont address, so I passed along the new one.  I wonder if I’ll get a T-shirt?

If it’s gift certificates, does anyone know of a charity that accepts them or of a family in need?

Maybe they’re sending someone to dispatch of me.  Maybe I should ask King’s to weigh in?

This still makes me laugh uncontrollably:

YOU GET A CRAYON!

Smiling & coloring rule.

I did get a really insightful comment on the last post though. Doesn’t seem like it’s gone down that way so far.

 

All we wanted were some crayons.


So, this past Saturday night we had an interesting experience at the local Bob Evans.  I have blogged about one of our experiences with an angry server there before, but haven’t touched upon the 3 or 4 other times that “the kitchen held up the order” while she talked to other customers at great length about slot machines at the Meadows, or the time that she rolled her eyes at me while the wife and I were discussing the seasonal shrimp on the menu in regards to where it was cooked and my allergy.  This time we were most likely doubly annoying as we had two small children with us.  The saga begins…

From: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.addre.ss>
To: Leann D. Purdy, Nathaniel A. Riggs, BE-mail

Hello Leann and Nate,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you’re both still with the Bob Evans team!  You may remember that I had contacted you in the past about the #jelly3x rule and a bad experience at the Bob Evans in Bridgeville Pennsylvania, and blogged about that alongside your enthusiastic response, and even more thorough follow-up.

We have since had a few other experiences with that waitress, including one where she rolled her eyes at me and said “well, you don’t have to order it” when I was discussing the shrimp stir-fry available seasonally.  Clearly, she has absolutely no grasp of cross-contamination.  The running theme with her seems to be that the kitchen is always late & to blame with any service issues.

Being that we have generally excellent food & service at the Bridgeville location, and it’s now even closer to home since we have moved to Bridgeville, we have gone in to dine and simply requested with the host or hostess to not be seated in her section.

Sadly this weekend, we didn’t spot her upon our arrival and did not inform the hostess of our preference.  We were quickly welcomed by the hostess, seated in her section and decided to go with it as it had been a while since we had Maleficent as our server.

Nowadays, we have a 2½ year old and a 7 month old in tow.  Bob Evans is a great place to get a full meal for a family without breaking the bank, yet another notch in the proverbial “pro’s” column.  (I mean, have you spent the same amount of money at Panera or Steak n’ Shake? It’s not even half of the food.  Maybe local heroes Eat’n Park can almost compete.)

Maleficent quickly came to the table and took our drink orders.  Our eldest ordered apple juice, I asked for an iced tea, and the wife went for water.  Our drinks were brought quickly and our waitress shot a nasty look to the table beside us as the hostess sat another family with 3 older children as she set our drinks down.  She came back a bit later to take our food order and my wife politely asked for straws which we didn’t get with our drinks and some crayons that weren’t included with our kid’s meal place-mat menu.

Maleficent Immediately huffed as she slammed down the straws and remarked that she didn’t have time to get crayons because she just had two other tables seated in her section.  We were only wanting crayons because it had taken her a while to come back and take our food order, well before anyone else had been seated in our section.

I forget exactly what the exchange was that followed.  I know my wife had mentioned that we had had several problems in the past with her service. I was pretty much shocked into jaw-agape silence at that point.  My wife ended with standing up to go speak to the manager, and Maleficent yelled (yes, yelled) “Lincoln, take tables 54 and 56!” or something to that effect.

After my wife came back from a conversation with the manager, one of the aforementioned customers beside us said “Wow. I can’t believe she told you no on the crayons.”  We gave the super-condensed version of our history with Maleficent as they continued in their wide-eyed disbelief.

Maleficent continued to serve that family, but we and another nearby table had been reassigned to a young man named Lincoln (Linkin?), on either Maleficent or the manager’s authority.  I wasn’t present for my wife’s conversation with the manager, but it was apparently full of knowing nods and angry head-shakes as she regaled the manager with tales of our past adventures with Maleficent.  I do know that my wife apparently characterized me as a madman about to lose all patience to bolster her point.  Perhaps that’s why the manager never came to the table to offer either an apology or an explanation.

Now, reading back on this, the story so far does sound like we are being absolutely ridiculous over the exclusion of two crayons for the amusement of our child who’s behavior, rearing, and amusement are wholly our responsibility.  Do you also see how the past history and an apparently poor attitude towards customers and a potential tip factor into this moment?  It must have been some serious shenanigans in order for the next table to notice.

The lesson I have learned is that we will keep crayons and a coloring book in our family vehicle for just such a purpose.  It is not Bob Evans’ responsibility to develop my child’s creativity and fine motor skills, nor to provide a means to pacifying the insatiable need for constant activity or the lack of patience to wait for a delicious prepared meal.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we were indeed prepared parents with our own plastic mess-prevention and environment-sterilizing place-mat for our son.  He can’t color yet, but he can shovel tiny bits of food into his mouth at a rate destined to require another kid’s meal sooner rather than later.

This leads us to Lincoln (Linkin?). Lincoln was certainly on top of his game after being saddled with two more tables in addition to his already presumably busy/full section.  He came through and delighted our daughter with a two-pack of pink and purple crayons. Lincoln took our order with a smile, brought the food out quickly with no conspiratorial kitchen issues, and was just all-around pleasant.  We even had to ask for a replacement fork as we had somehow lost one.  It was brought out amid a flurry of what I presume to be normal Saturday restaurant activity with no hesitation, and rather quickly.  We even got jelly on one request.

After our meal, we thanked him for being such an incredible server, and I remarked that I was glad he was so understanding because I was nervous about being labeled as some sort of problem after requesting a new server.  He indicated that it was not a surprise, happens regularly, and that he didn’t come to us with any preconceived notions.  He also added that people inexplicably (my words, not his) come in and request to be seated in Maleficent’s section and Maleficent’s section only.

We will request Lincoln’s section in the future, and barring that option we’ll just request not be seated in Maleficent’s section.  I can play that game.  We cleaned up as best we could from our inevitable child-induced mess, left close to a 50% tip, and found the errant fork before we left.  The table directly beside us (I assume the other table taken by Lincoln at the same time we were handed over) also rather audibly and publicly thanked Lincoln for being such a great server.  I’m not sure if they also had issues that we weren’t aware of?  I told the cashier how happy we were with our service upon checkout.

I don’t want to pick on a server.  I do want to illustrate the contrast between what I see as poor service as it relates to incredible service and how it didn’t seem to be any more difficult than you make it.  I do hope Lincoln is rewarded for a job well done and his overall attitude.  I’m sure it reflects in his work effort and in his gratuities.  I would hope that you can again pass this email along to all of the appropriate parties.  Area coaches and the store management, correct?  I really feel like we were nothing but polite and reasonable up until we were denied crayons, and we remained polite and reasonable immediately after that whole exchange.  That seems like an absolutely insane sentence for one adult to write to another.  Do I have a valid point, or am I just super way out of line here?

I would just drop the entire issue and move on, but Bob Evans is one of the few places that I can safely get a meal with my shellfish allergy, I can comfortably order anything on the menu (outside of the seasonal Lent-deathfish), it’s very close by, and I feel like we really get great value for a dollar when we dine at your establishment.

Last time you sent out some gift certificates.  Please save them this time.  I don’t want free food, I just want a stress-free dining experience.  If you must send gift certificates, can you direct them to a Pittsburgh charity that can give them to people who do perhaps need a free meal?  Thankfully I can put food on the table for my family while many others struggle to do so.  We need to get our butts out on a kids-eat-free promotional night if we want a free meal.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my complaints are trivial.  I realize that some would enjoy any meal regardless of the way in which it was delivered.  What if though, this had been that meal for someone?  What if this was one night out that they looked forward to and it was met with the kind of service that we regularly receive from one apparently disgruntled waitress?  Is this how Bob Evans wants to be perceived?

I plan to blog this adventure also.  I do less of that these days, but this seemed to be appropriately entertaining.  Of course, the names will be omitted or changed.

I also look forward to your response and insight.  Thank you once again for your time and assistance!

Just crayons?

-Eric

https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com

me@my.emailaddre.ss

I can’t wait for a response.  Sadly, I see from the Yahoo! mailer daemon that Nate is no longer with Bob Evans.  I think I knew he outgrew them a while back.  I may try to ping it out to a few more people.  I have contacted others at Bob Evans in the past, during my pre-Wordpress days.  I even had someone send me a “safe” list of where things were cooked and what would be OK for me to eat while they had shellfish on the menu.  Overall they have stellar corporate customer service, but we just have this continual issue with a crazy server who reminds me of the mailman in the movie Funny Farm.

Bob Evans - Tuesday Night is Family Night

Tuesday Night is Family Night

A close to all the food rants… maybe.


I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on the subject, but this is just to close out my recent rants about the bad habits of restaurant employees out there everywhere.

If you need a recap, here’s how it panned out on my end…

Admittedly, I was just “going off” in reaction to the mentioned articles, but it doesn’t excuse any of the deplorable actions described within.  I really appreciate the blog hits, feedback, & discussion on the issue… whether it was here on this blog, or via Facebook, Twitter, Pittsburgh Beat, or whatever venue a link was pimped upon.

In the last blog, I was tagged and deemed it by an entertaining blogger  named Charity that sits on the server side of the fence, and some things were explained to me.  She was one of the ones quoted in my rants, although she wasn’t confessing to disgusting behavior, just complaining about customers (which she has every right to do).  Apparently I’m adorable in a “oh my, isn’t he so naive” kind of way.  I commented there, really saying all I have to say on the subject for now.  I even saw a few encouraging words from another commenter, teleburst, who provided some cool links to his blog on being more accommodating to customers with special dietary needs.  Let’s hope he does eventually blog about allergies!

I love the blogs about how to be a better customer that are out there… I wouldn’t imagine that people would actually do some things like share drinks with free refills or leave a mess after their kid makes one…  But I guess it’s happening out there everywhere.

I know I mentioned discussing tips, but the mood has passed for now… I’m sure I’ll dive into it someday.  I need to do another goofy W(aL)D post soon.  Hits have been skyrocketing for my Sprint Short Codes post, there’s apparently still a problem that Sprint refuses to admit!  Oh well, until next time… Remember to tip your servers at least 20% for good service, unless they slip you some regular instead of decaf or beef stock when they tell you it’s vegetable stock.

More shocking & disguting revelations from your serving staff…


I wish I was done.  Perhaps this blog will wrap up all of my current thoughts on the subject.  Thanks for hanging in there, my friends.  And, I have received some comments on Facebook at Pittsburgh Beat, please comment here too!  Thanks to Trista & Dave for not being shy.  If you have no idea what I mean, this is a follow-up to my last two posts…

You may want to read those 1st.

The first article/slide-show that I’d like to tackle is also called 20 Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You and linked to from one of the articles as 20 More Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You. Apparently originality is lost here.

I’ll tackle the most appalling slides here..

What You’re Really Swallowing
In most restaurants, after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots. I’ll bring out a tray with 12 coffees on it and give some to the customers who ordered regular, others to the ones who ordered decaf. But they’re all decaf.
Charity Ohlund

Ridiculous.  What’s so hard about telling people of this policy, or cleaning an extra coffee pot?  Don’t they have dish washers for this kind of thing?  Any kind of secrecy is just wrong.  Granted, the opposite would be much worse for someone with a sensitivity to caffeine… but according to this  butthole, it happens quite regularly.  Is it too much to expect to get what you order?  Really?  I work hard for my money just like you, and ought to get what I want when I spend in your workplace.

What We Lie About
If you’re a vegetarian and you ask if we use vegetable stock, I’m going to say yes, even if we don’t. You’ll never know the difference.

I like that this is from someone anonymous.  Whoever you are, please take comfort in the fact that you are one of the lowest forms of human life on the planet and that there are not too many out there worse than you.  You’re sick.  You have a mental illness of some sort or a form of antisocial personality disorder… specifically the following symptoms:

  • Apparent lack of remorse or empathy; inability to care about hurting others
  • Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
  • Persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms

This is a serious illness, and I implore you to seek help.  This is just completely unacceptable behavior towards your fellow man, besides not doing your job correctly or with any sort of pride or responsibility.

I’m certainly not a vegetarian.  In fact, serve up any animal that’s not shellfish, an insect, or  having an opposable thumb, and I’ll most likely eat it or at least try it.  I love red meat… and white meat too… but there is not much better out there meat-wise than a nice steak, roast, or even a burger.  PETA annoys me to no end.

Still, I respect their life choices, life style, and dietary needs.  I have several friends and acquaintances that are vegetarian or vegan.  It doesn’t matter if their diet is because of personal choices, dietary needs, religious beleifs, or allergies. If I know they’re coming to my house for anything or if I’m taking food to a common event with them… I go out of my way to make sure that the food doesn’t contain animals or animal products.  Over the past few years, I even learned about things that I never thought of as animal products like gelatin-free sour cream.

I harp on the allergy thing because it affects me, but someone out there may have a severe allergic reaction to beef or chicken… and if the stock was made from fish or shellfish and someone lied to me about it… well, I might not be around to complain.

I just can’t imagine that in this day and age that anyone would think lying about something like this was acceptable.

What You Don’t Want to Know
Now that I’ve worked in a restaurant, I never ask for lemon in a drink. Everybody touches them. Nobody washes them. We just peel the stickers off, cut them up, and throw them in your iced tea.
—Charity Ohlund, Kansas City waitress

Explains why I’ve gotten so many lemons with stickers on them in my iced teas.  Aren’t there health codes or inspectors out there?  I’m vehemently against big(er) government, but I would gladly pay higher taxes for inspections to be more frequent and with higher penalties.  In fact…  I’ll sign up to do them at an incredibly reasonable price.

What You’re Really Swallowing
Skim milk is almost never skim milk. Very few restaurants outside Starbucks carry whole milk, 2 percent milk, skim milk, and half-and-half; it’s just not practical.
—Chris

Skim milk is gross, but…  Again, why with the dishonesty?  Why not just tell people you don’t have skim milk, then let them make the decision if they want it or not?  I’d leave a bigger tip if my server was honest with me about something like that.

What Drives Us Crazy
The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you? Ask for hot tea. For some reason, an industry that’s managed to streamline everything else hasn’t been able to streamline that. You’ve got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.
—Christopher Fehlinger, maître d’ at a popular New York City restaurant

Wow.  I love hot tea, but don’t order it out much.  From now on, every time I feel a waiter or waitress is treating me poorly, I’ll be sure to add to their aggravation and order this.  Also, I find it funny that this is from a maître d’.  Shouldn’t they be held to an even higher standard?  And again…  I don’t care what it is… if it’s on the menu, I should be able to order it, and it should not affect your attitude or opinion because… buh-bahhh IT’S YOUR JOB.

What We Want You to Know
In many restaurants, the tips are pooled, so if you have a bad experience with the server, you’re stiffing the bartender who made your drinks, the water boy who poured your water, sometimes the hostess, the food runners, and maybe the other waiters.
—Christopher Fehlinger

This isn’t common knowledge by now?  Surely everyone knows someone who works at a restaurant.

What You Need to Know About Tipping
The best tippers tend to be middle-class or people who have worked for everything they have, not the really wealthy or the kid who inherited the trust fund. Which is not to say that we mind if you use coupons. But when you do, tip on the amount the bill would have been without them.
—Judi Santana

Makes sense… people at about your level who work for all that they have.  The coupon thing makes sense.  Save a few bucks on the restaurant’s dime, not your server’s.

Well, those articles led me to Frothy Girlz where I looked for an apparently old blog post that keeps coming up to annoy the writer.  I didn’t find the original post, but I did find a gem entitled In The Weeds: There’s a Food Allergy Community? Really?.

People just love them some communities.  I mean, they must.  After my Reader’s Digest piece was picked up by both the Today show and Msnbc.com, the “food allergy community” opened up a peanut and gluten-free can of whoop ass on me.  Some scolded me for not caring if their children died, others asked for a full retraction and apology to the community, and others reminded me, again, that they could die.

Who knew there was a food allergy community?  Can you imagine the poor restaurant that is chosen for their weekly meetings?  The waitress nervously approaches the chef with an order the size of the Bible with all the special notes and codes and the words “COULD DIE!!!” hand written on half the tickets.

I’m disgusted by the cavalier attitude here.  I can’t imagine being a parent with a small child that had to deal with this.  It’s bad enough when it’s my own problem.  Yes, there’s a bunch of us out here, and we’re growing more vocal day by day.  Why?  Any more, it’s the small groups who have to power.  Wait until we start referring to ourselves ans a minority, and our right to eat out in comfort a civil right.  Wow, could we ever abuse that if we got it out at the right place and time to the right politicians.

I have dealt with a lot of food allergies in my serving career, and I care, I really do.   Every case was handled with extreme care.  I would go talk to the chef, who would roll his eyes and then have to stop the line and talk to every cook.  I then had to stop and tell every other server, busser, and assistant to make sure not to touch any plates at table 53 without washing their hands of any and all potential allergens.  She could die!  Meanwhile, the restaurant is completely packed and crazy and this person has put her LIFE in my hands and I have to trust – no, SHE has to trust – that all 95 people who could possibly come in contact with her or her food will completely sanitize their hands, the silverware, the plates, and the very air she breathes of any and all peanut dust.

A chef rolls their eyes?  That’s sad.  I think they’d get into the business wanting people to love their food, not die from it.  Sadly, in with the rest of this, she’s right on.  It should not be solely the responsibility of the server.  Restaurants everywhere need to be made aware of the inherent dangers of cross contamination in food preparation, cooking, & serving.  People suffering from severe food allergies are a small percentage of the population, narrow down the allergy & it’s smaller still.  I run into people that aren’t aware of allergies or their possible severity all the time.  Some people are taking steps to correct this, many others will be needed to join in & raise awareness.

But it’s too much for you, allergen sufferer, isn’t it?  I mean, if you could truly die, how do you throw caution to the wind and hope that your 12 reminders have done the trick?  Balls, you.

Yes, balls me.  Again, you have to weigh this against the social pressure to dine out, and desire to be like everyone else.  It’s much more than just the allergy that’s bothersome, and who doesn’t like to dine out every once in a while, especially in a place that doesn’t have a drive-through or a mascot?

That blog contained a vlog from this guy, who at best needs kicked in the teeth.  I can’t really go point-for-point because I don’t really feel like typing out transcripts.  If you’re interested in seeing what I mean, check out Would You Say “No Butter” to Julia Child!?.  He speaks of how I shouldn’t eat out because I can’t trust anyone but him… even though he’s an ass.  He does make one good point saying that people saying they’re allergic to things when they just don’t want them in their food is doing nothing but trivializing it for the rest of us.  But, “Anonymous waiter in Hollywood, CA”, don’t pass the buck, you’re still the arrogant bastard here.  Yes, I get it, you say things for shock value and to gain new readers… like I just said you need kicked in the teeth.  I’m sure you’re fine with that though, & enjoy the reaction.  If you’re teaching us to be better customers, who’s teaching you to be a better waiter?

Apparently people complaining upset the “In The Weeds” writer, and she posted another blog, again venting…

1)  From Shellshock: “Wow. The author is going to kill someone with the attitude towards allergies. I guess the terms anaphylactic shock and death are words not found in the author’s vocabulary.”

I covered the topic of food allergies already, but again, if you can DIE from someone messing up your food, you might as well ask your waitress to perform your next open heart surgery.  It’s really the same risk.  I’m not insensitive to your plight.  I’ll do my best.  But it really sucks that you could die.  Because if the Mexican kitchen workers don’t understand what I’m saying about “anaphylactic shock”…. damn.

Again, why not do your part and suggest to the owner/manager/chef that everyone be trained on food allergy awareness?  No one’s asking you to perform open heart surgery… we’re just asking you to be clean.  That’s all.  Don’t let dirty stuff touch clean stuff. Shouldn’t that be in practice anyway?

I mean this stuff is genius…

Education | For Food Industry and Service Professionals

To prevent allergic reactions, individuals with food allergies rely on accurate ingredient information and safe food handling procedures. The material in this section will provide food industry and service professionals with the information they will need to safely prepare, cook, and serve food to a guest who has food allergies.

Would that really be all that difficult?

Well, maybe I have one more blog left.  One dedicated to tipping… and my take on it.  I really hope to hear from some people in the industry about that one.

Don’t ever eat anything anywhere anytime.


So, I admittedly went mental with my last blog post, and it ended up being more of it’s own entity than a tangent or aside… but I think it may give you a little background of what’s going through my head in addition to the regular shock & horror that’s surely intended by the writers/submitters/vloggers of the matters that I’d like to discuss here.  Maybe it’s a part in a series.  I never know exactly where this will go.  Now that you know about my allergy and how it affects me mentally, we can get on with the rest of the issues at hand.

I have had several discussions with friends who have worked in the food industry (as I have not) about kitchen cleanliness issues, server attitudes, and just service in general.  I have a site 90% or so ready to go called Fast Food Fail that I eventually hope to get up n’ running… to point out service issues that I seem to think should not be accepted.  I have been told it’s ridiculous because it’s “only fast food” and that “people working there don’t care” or “don’t make enough money to care.”  Fair enough.  But, I feel this is laziness.  It’s laziness on the part of the food preparer & servers, and laziness on the part of the consumer that just sits back & takes it.  I wanted to focus on fast food because it fits my price range, schedule, and it’s easy to avoid shellfish there… but these articles seem to go from fast food to diners to sit down chains all the way up to the high end places.

Before I go on, a bit of a disclaimer:  It’s been pointed out to me by a few that some of the statements I’m about to quote may be exaggerated for comedic effect shock  value, and what-not…. and that this “doesn’t really happen” anywhere.  Okay.  Opinions noted.  I’m sure my opinions will swing just as far the other way.  A few of my dining pet peeves may even jump out here.

Okay… as I was saying… Sunday night, I sit down to check my email and I get a link to a Yahoo!  news article from their home page that makes me wretch in disgust.  It’s called  20 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You.  After reading, and clicking through several links around the various sites (you know how it goes), I found 30 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You — Which seems to be an earlier longer version of the same article by Michelle Crouch.  I’m just going to quote then rant.

Here, from a group that clears a median $8.01 an hour in wages and tips, a few revelations that aren’t on any menu.

Am I to feel sorry because these people make $8.01 per hour?  I have always done the job I was hired to do to the best of my ability no matter what the pay.  It’s the set rate accepted by you the minute you took the job for the services rendered.  If you feel that your time and effort deserve more compensation, then move on.  Don’t give me the “it’s the only job I ca get” crap either… because i it is, then suck it up, and do it to the best of your ability so you’ll be in that mode when something more worth of you comes along.  And, I haven’t worked food service… but I have done construction demolition & labor, cleaned offices for extra cash, and worked on an assembly line… all “menial” and labor-intensive tasks.

2. On Christmas Day, when people ask why I’m there, I might say, “My sister’s been in the hospital,” or, “My brother’s off to war, so we’re celebrating when he gets back.” Then I rake in the tips.
—Chris, a New York City waiter and the founder of bitterwaitress.com

Thanks, you just made me less inclined to believe any back story of any servery anywhere.  I’m sure they’ll all thank you for that.  (Just like the geniuses that say they have a food allergy when they really don’t… but I might get to those people later.)

4. If someone orders a frozen drink that’s annoying to make, I’ll say, “Oh, we’re out. Sorry!” when really I just don’t want to make it. But if you order water instead of another drink, suddenly we do have what you originally wanted because I don’t want to lose your drink on the bill.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

Annoying to make? How about you DO YOUR JOB?  I don’t go to work and lie to customers because they’re annoying or it’s annoying to do what they’re calling to ask me to do…  I DO IT, because it’s why I’m there.  You should pick up this attitude too.  If I’m at a restaurant, and it’s on the menu, I damn well better be able to order it.  (This is the standard with Milkshakes at McDonald’s I think.  I can’t remember the last time I had one.  The McDonald’s shake machine repair man must be more elusive than bigfoot riding a unicorn.)  If you’re out or it.s broken or something, there better be a preemptive note in the menu or a verbal notice when I sit down.

5. When I was at one bakery restaurant, they used to make this really yummy peach cobbler in a big tray. A lot of times, servers don’t have time to eat. So we all kept a fork in our aprons, and as we cruised through the kitchen, we’d stick our fork in the cobbler and take a bite. We’d use the same fork each time.
—Kathy Kniss

7. I’ve seen some horrible things done to people’s food: steaks dropped on the floor, butter dipped in the dishwater.
—Waiter at a casual restaurant in the Chicago area

I hope this is the shock value/comedic effect stuff that people are telling me is entirely fictional.  Where would this be acceptable?  Now, you see why I worry about cross contamination so much.

6. If you make a big fuss about sending your soup back because it’s not hot enough, we like to take your spoon and run it under really hot water, so when you put the hot spoon in your mouth, you’re going to get the impression—often the very painful impression—that your soup is indeed hot.
—Chris

Thanks for giving the idea to like minded individuals out there, Chris.  I’ll remember to hold on to my spoon if I ever have the need to send soup back.  I’m generally afraid to ever send anythign back… urban legends like this, and the movies Waiting… and Road Trip “French Toast” scene are why.

10. Oh, you needed more water so badly, you had to snap or tap or whistle? I’ll be right back … in ten minutes.
—Charity Ohlund

Good point, that’s just stupid behavior.  I have no idea why anyone anywhere would find this to be acceptable.

13. Sometimes, if you’ve been especially nice to me, I’ll tell the bartender, “Give me a frozen margarita, and don’t put it in.” That totally gyps the company, but it helps me because you’ll give it back to me in tips, and the management won’t know the difference.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

Used to get free soup at Eat ‘n Park this way when I worked night shift nearby.  I always tipped the value of the soup plus some.

19. Trust your waitress. Say something like “Hey, it’s our first time in. We want you to create an experience for us. Here’s our budget.” Your server will go crazy for you.
— Charity Ohlund

After reading all the rest of this stuff, I’m supposed to trust the waitress?

22. When you say, “I’ll have the pasta Alfredo,” it tells me two things: You aren’t interested in trying new things, and you don’t eat out much. Restaurants put this dish on their menus because it’s “safe,” it sells, and it’s cheap to make.
—JR

Or you’re me at an Olive Garden where the Pasta Alfredo is the only thing besides the salad, breadsticks, and pizza that isn’t a possible cross-contamination induced death by anaphylaxis.

28. If you’re worried about cleanliness, check out the bathroom. If the bathroom is gross, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.
—Waitress at a well-known pizza chain

So, don’t eat at this McDonald’s?  I’ll have to make an exception for Gooski’s with this rule.  Some things, I just don’t need to know.

In a weekly blog called “In the Weeds” for frothygirlz.com, Kansas City waitress Charity Ohlund describes her favorite customer stereotypes:

6. If you have a food allergy, you will talk about it in great detail and then each time I set a new plate in front of you, you will ask me if I remembered your food allergy.

Offense taken.  I get, this list was to be cute & funny… but I make the waitress aware of my allergy once, or sometimes my wife even does it because she knows I’m already on edge, and we never feel the need to mention it a second time.  Sometimes the manager comes out, sometimes the waitress is very understanding and reassuring.  I hope they’re not pulling the wool over my eyes just to get a bigger tip.  And, if it could kill you, you might be a little on edge about it too!  And… even if you have an epi pen… it’s not a life saver, its’s a time buyer… it gives you a good 20 maybe 30 minutes for the EMT’s to arrive & give you another dose until they can get you to the hospital.

That aside, poking around that site more & more, it is entertaining and well written… and I don’t get a malicious feel behind any of the posts.  I guess everyone needs to vent, but in that spirit, I feel free to vent back.

Wow all that in response to just the one article.  I think this just because a series… because I have other pet peeves involved with dining out including tips and closing times… and I came accross many more disturbing revelations in some of the articles/links.  Maybe I’ll pop them all into the next one.

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?