WARNING: Never Send Your Food Back in a Restaurant
This Fly Could Be Waiting To Swim in Your Soup
Waiter, There's a Fly in My Soup
If you've ever seen the movie Waiting, you'll know it's the comedic tale of a group of employees from an imaginary chain of restaurants called, Shananigans. It's a MUST SEE film, not only for those in the restaurant industry, but also for those who patronize restaurants on a regular basis.
I've never been involved in the industry, but I was out with some friends the other evening and we got into telling each other our own restaurant horror stories. I had a couple to share.
Years before I was married, I was out with a girlfriend to a chain restaurant (the name escapes me, but they are now out of business), on a Sunday evening. We had been at the beach all day and we both received horrible sunburns. Red, in pain and very hungry, we decided to go out to eat and enjoy some much needed air conditioning.
We both ordered pasta dishes. Mine was linguine and clam sauce and hers was spaghetti and meatballs. Everything arrived at the table hot and fresh. We had been to this restaurant many times before and had always enjoyed the meals and service. On a hot, Sunday night in August, the place was mobbed. We waited 45 minutes in the crowded bar for a table and we could tell when seated that our server, (a young lady in her mid-twenties) was not having the best night. It happens. I'm always very nice to restaurant servers. They're not only handling my food, but since they're always the first person to be notified of a complaint, (most-times by uncaring jerks) they can be a bit on edge sometimes, Whether it was the crowd, an over busy kitchen or maybe just a headache, we could tell it just wasn't her day. Little did I realize, I'd help to make it worse.
Never, Ever Send Your Food Back!
We waited over 30 minutes (unusual for me to wait that long) for our food to arrive but the waitress delivered with a smile on her face and an apology. It seems that they had 2 no-shows in the kitchen that evening. She went back for our grated cheese and when it arrived we began to eat-quite ravenously, in fact.
The food was delicious. I was enjoying my linguine and white clam sauce when I noticed my girlfriend looking down into her plate. Her sunburned face turning white-or pink as it were. She was not happy.
"What's the matter?" I asked
"Nothing", she replied, folding her napkin across the plate. "I don't feel well."
"Well, is it the food or the sunburn?", I asked
"I didn't want to ruin your meal", she replied. "There's a big f**king bug in my spaghetti." (She was a classy chick)
"You've got to be kidding", I said, feeling my stomach do loops inside my body.
"No, here it is", she responded, showing me the plate and the biggest mosquito (I think it was a mosquito anyway)I'd ever seen in my life.
There is was. The king of all mosquitoes. A mutant species. At least an inch and a half in length with HUGE wings, now covered in marinara sauce. That was definitely not in the menu description of the meal she ordered. She excused herself to go to the bathroom. I attempted to get the server's attention. So were 10 other tables.
I caught the server's attention as she was passing by our table with a tray full of drinks for the people seated behind us.
ME: "Excuse me, there's a little problem with our order."
SERVER: "I'm sorry, sir. What seems to be the problem?"
ME: (whispering) "There's a huge bug in my girlfriend's pasta"
SERVER: "I am so sorry sir. I'll get her a replacement dish immediately"
ME: "That's ok, I don't think she's very hungry. What can we do about this?"
SERVER: "I'll have to notify the manager. I'll send him right over."
In the meantime, my girlfriend arrived back at the table, still a bit disturbed, but looking better than when she had left.The waitress returned to the table. Alone.
"Sir, the manager said he's very sorry and told me to either replace your girlfriend's dinner or remove the dinner from the bill."
"Well, that's really nice of your manager, but since I've lost my appetite, as well, please let your manager know I won't be paying for mine either. We'll pay for our cocktails and it definitely won't affect your tip, but there's no way I'm paying for the food."
The waitress, had a definitelook of despair, (as if hoping the situation-and me) would accept their deal and disappear but with the sunburn, the wait for the food, the ruined meal and a half-assed apology from a manager who didn't take the time to attend to a customer, I got quite ornery.
"Can you please tell the manager, I'd like to see him immediately?"
"Yes, sir, the waitress, replied. I'll get him right now"
About 5 minutes later, the manager appeared and in his best corporate voice apologized for the spoiled food, explained that these things happen from time to time and once again offered to remove the meal from the bill. My meal, however would need to be paid for.
ME: "I'm not going to pay for food I couldn't eat."
MANAGER: "Sir unfortunately, our policy dictates that only the meal with the problem can be removed."
ME: (standing up) "My customer policy dictates that when my appetite is ruined, I'm not paying for either meal. If there's a problem with that, you can get a district manager on the phone and I'll be more than happy to speak with him"
MANAGER: "Sir, believe it or not, people have been known to bring bugs in to restaurants in order to obtain free meals. I'm not implying you did that, but it's been known to happen."
ME: "I'm going to pay for the cocktails and leave the waitress a great tip." I pulled $25 from my wallet and tossed it on the table. I looked over at my girlfriend and said, "Let's go"
MANAGER: "Sir, if you don't pay for the meal, I'll be forced to call the police"
ME: Ok, do what you have to do", I said. "They can cuff me here in front of your customers,( who are beginning to wonder what's going on over here, by the way) And before the cops get here, I'm going to let everyone know that we found bugs in our food. I figure I have at least 10 minutes to ruin your business. It will be a pleasure being arrested and going to court for being right."
MANAGER: Sir this isn't necessary. Please pay the bill or I'll be forced to do something I don't want to do."
ME: (finally losing it) "Me, too!", I said as I stepped onto my chair and announced loudly,,,,,"Attention ********* customers."
MANAGER: "Sir, please get down from there"
ME: "Hand me the bill"
MANAGER: "Sir, my chef is calling the police"
ME: "Your chef can kiss my ass. Give me the bill!"
MANAGER: (handing me the bill) "Here, please just leave."
ME: (ripping up the bill into tiny pieces all over the table and getting down from my platform) "Have a good night! (and me, being the 20 year old wiseass, I was at the time, added. "I didn't think you had any balls"
We won the battle that evening. Obviously I would handle the situation much differently these days. But there are some do's and don'ts you may want to consider, should you suddenly find yourself with a problem meal.
Resturant Complaint Do's & Don'ts
DO notify your server immediately if you discover something wrong with your food. Be nice, be pleasant, but makes sure he/she knows the specific problem. Is your meal cold? Undercooked? Not what you ordered? Be specific so they can notify the chef of the complaint.
DON'T take out your anger on the server. They didn't cook the meal. It's pretty easy to lay into a server. It's also not a nice thing to do.
DO ask for an adjustment to your bill for any problems with the meal.
DON'T stiff the server on the tip because of the food. If the service was top notch, you should leave a great tip.
DO notify the manager immediately to any problems with the service. Complaining to a server about their service isn't going to do you any good.
DON'T EVER send back your food. See the above video clip for what could happen if you do this.
DO remember the cardinal rule of dining. DON'T F**K WITH PEOPLE WHO HANDLE YOUR FOOD!
Anyone else have a story to share?
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