Attention Food Service Employees: Don’t Be That Asshole

When I was in college, I worked at a Bennigan’s at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. I loved that job. I had lots of fun, my coworkers were terrific. Customers ranged from demanding tourist assholes, to demanding, non-tipping assholes from the projects down the street, to fun business people and cops – lots and lots of cops. Those guys were the best. They’d come over after they got off duty, order beers, and tell stories. SO many stories!

Dealing with people is hard. I fully understand that. Some people are just jerks, and they treat wait staff like their own personal slaves. And dog forbid you don’t immediately cater to their every whim!

Yo! I want that couch seat (booth). I don’t like this one.

Hey, can you have the cooks put exactly 1/4 cup of Alfredo on my pasta – no more, no less!

I forgot to ask you for another drink refill when you were here a minute ago. Get it for me now. What, it’s not here yet?

We all want frozen daiquiris (from a table of 10). Why is it taking so long?

There’s not enough rum in my rum and coke. Take it back.

Why aren’t you writing anything down? (I always just memorized the orders for tables of six or less, unless there were a lot of special additions I had to write down.) If you don’t get our order just right, you’re not getting a tip.

There were demanding assholes.

There were assholes who would tip you $1 on a $75 meal and act like they were doing you a huge favor.

There were assholes who would send back their food if it wasn’t prepared just the way they wanted it multiple times and then demand their meal be comped, because they weren’t satisfied.

And yet, through all this, I never once considered doing anything unpleasant to their food, like spitting in it or worse.

I also had the picky customers who wanted their sauces on the side, who wanted their broccoli arranged in particular ways, and who would order gargantuan portions of food, followed by that Diet Coke.

And again, throughout my career as a waitress, I never ever messed with their food. I never surreptitiously replaced their diet soda with regular. I never gave them anything containing dairy, if they asked for something to be prepared dairy-free. I never rolled my eyes when someone would ask for a dish prepared a certain way because they couldn’t eat gluten. I simply took the order and ensured it was done the correct way.

In other words, I was never this asshole.

Food allergies are no joke, and for some the wrong ingredient can literally mean the difference between life and death. Despite this however, certain people in the service industry seem to take great pleasure in giving customers precisely what they DON’T want.

This was recently highlighted by an Imgur user named Amrikia, who posted about somebody boasting about having deliberately served people regular coke instead of the diet coke they’d asked for.

You know why I was never that asshole? Because people can die. Literally. Fucking. Die.

And because I’m not a murderer.

It costs me nothing to get the order right and not be that smarmy douche canoe who decided that the person ordering that gluten-free item doesn’t really need it – that they’re simply lemmings following a fad, and that I would show them how silly and superfluous their whole gluten-free thing is.

People. Can. Literally. Die.

I have a mild processed sugar allergy. My tongue breaks out in painful, red dots if I have more than a tiny bit of processed sugar, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. My life won’t be in danger if I ingest a regular Coke, but it won’t be pleasant.

A diabetic can die. Someone with a severe allergy to sugar – more severe than mine – can die.

If you give someone who is lactose intolerant dairy after they ask you for soy, you could cause severe intestinal distress. Someone with a dairy allergy could die. Someone with Celiac disease could die if you decide to be a snotty asshole and decide you’ll prove to them that their gluten-free fad is exactly that.

You think pulling one over on an unsuspecting customer, because you hate your job, or because you think they’re ridiculous for getting that diet soda with that big tub of popcorn, or because you’re just a miserable hemorrhoid, and you want the rest of the world to be just as miserable as you, is funny? You think because your fat ass can’t be bothered to do some exercise, it would be fun to ridicule those “skinny bitches” and undermine them by giving them a boatload of sugar? Are you really that jealous? Are you really that wretched that you need company in your swamp of mental shit?

Your best outcome is the customer asking you to replace that diet soda. I’ve done so numerous times after tasting the drink and realizing they (hopefully) unintentionally gave me regular soda.

Your worst outcome is that you kill someone. Is that something you really want on your conscience?

You get paid for customer service. It may not be a lot. It may be a shitty job to have to deal with people all day. But it is your job.

Do it, or get the fuck out. Don’t be that asshole.


45 responses

  1. Food can react like medicine with the body, in some ways. Diabetics order diet coke for a reason. Pregnant women order decaf for a reason. If someone intentionally screws that up and hurts someone I would hope they get sued

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alternately, get their ass kicked.


      1. To borrow from a regular poster over on Baen’s Bar, “embrace the power of ‘and’.” Kick their asses inside and outside the courthouse.

        (Currently delivering pizza, and have been retail most of my employed life, so I’m not exactly unfamiliar with assholes on either side of the transaction.)


        1. Mmmmm. Pizza.


  2. Oh. My.
    Jerks like this is why I hardly go out to eat at all, save for a once-monthly lunch outing with my ladies’ Red Hat group.

    I worked high-end retail for a while, upon retiring from the Air Force. It was kind of fun, actually – dress nicely and hang around in a busy department store? About the only evil thing I was tempted into doing was walking very quietly, ghosting up to someone and suddenly saying, “Are you looking for something special? May I be of help?” just to see them about jump out of their skin. I never did this to anyone who actually looked like they were at a risk for a heart attack, though.

    Ah, retail. This was where I realized that “Are You Being Served?” was a documentary…

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I worked at Wing House (Hooters knock off in FL and TX) back in my much lighter days. There were definitely assholes. Holy shit, assholes for days! Especially during UFC fights. One guy even gave me his name and phone number roughly 15 minutes before he bat the shit out of some dude in the parking lot and ran off. When I found the paper in my apron, I told my manager and then gave the info to the deputy who was working the event. We all had a really good laugh about it.

    Even then, never once did I mess with anyone’s food. I may have forgotten something on occasion (like putting in an appetizer or the extra ranch) but never anything that would cause physical harm. Doing that is just douchey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And yet you’d be surprised how many people would spit in someone’s food, or drop it on the floor, pick it up, and serve it.


      1. I of course would never do anything like that either, since I treat people with respect always, but I see people berate their servers in restaurant for things out of their control, such as how much the cost of a menu item is, or why the menu changes, in chain restaurants, or why the coupon they have that is expired by 3 months can’t be used. Then the servers brings them food, that they are going to eat. I mean, if I were them, I would remember that we had a sort of symbiotic relationship going on, and me treating them like crap might just end up coming back to haunt me in the end.
        As to the servers not always doing their best, no matter what, I am reminded for the first time in years, of the only sign that an old football coach from high school would allow in our locker room. It was one word, in plain letters, and that word was PRIDE. The simple word pretty much said it all. Pride was a word that said that no matter whether or not someone was looking, you still didn’t cut corners, you didn’t try to get even, you didn’t try to break rules, no matter why, not matter if wronged. You did that, in our case lo those many years ago out of a sense of pride in our team and what we stood for, but now, you would do so our of a sense of pride in yourself and what your sense of honor and character meant not only to yourself, but also to anyone that you were trying to stand up for as a mentor, such as your children or other people in your life who might be important, as in maybe a younger co-worker, or a neighbor, or a youth group in a church that you work with.
        I have heard it said that character is how you act when nobody else is looking. That is probably just as good of a description as any. Good character is more important in your life than almost any other qualities than just about anything you can think of. From that flow every other desirable parts of a decent person that others want to be around, to befriend, to hire, work for and with, to marry, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am soy (tofu) intolerant. If I eat too much it makes me sick to my stomach and tears up my digestive system for the next day or more. I’ve had to ask for replacements at some restaurants and so far no one has given me static.

    If someone were to decide that I was following at fad and left the soy/tofu in it could result in ruining my night and end up costing me a day of work.


    1. A friend of mine is soy intolerant, too. He has a lot of trouble finding some kinds of foods that don’t contain it in some form or another.


    2. Blond_Engineer | Reply

      I’m not soy intolerant, I’m just plain allergic. And let me tell you, the fad for putting soy beans into all the veggie mixes instead of limas was a serious form of evil as far as I was concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m allergic to mold. So no bleu cheese et al. I can’t even have generic store bought bleu cheese dressing. So I always politely ask if there’s some moldy cheese in whatever and why I need a special order. Never had a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Silentium Est Aureum | Reply

    And the restaurant industry wonders why more people are staying home.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t have special food needs, but I simply don’t like sugar in my food, especially what I drink. So it bothers me a lot when I go to a restaurant and ask for plain iced tea with lemon only, NOT sweet tea which has high fructose corn syrup in it, and I get sweet tea instead of plain. Then I have to ask the waitress (politely) to please replace it because I don’t drink any sugared drinks. Most of the time, they’re polite, but there is that occasional birdbrain who thinks the world owes him/her/it a living and rolls those eyes over being asked to get me what I asked for.

    Those people don’t get much of a cash tip from me, but they do get this tip: I asked for NO SUGAR for a reason, you know. I could be a diabetic or someone with serious glucose intolerance, and if you bring me a sugared drink, you can kill me. I’ll make sure you get mentioned in my obituary.

    Just hang in there. Not everyone who waits tables is an idiot.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I wonder how much is ‘asshole’ and how much is ‘special snowflake that is too good to work in the food service industry’ tho.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Nicely said. If your post makes just one person think twice before doing something foolish, well done!


  10. I won’t say what I do or do not do it avoid being thought of an asshole, I will state there are none of them working where I like to eat and one night last winter on of them saw me outside scrapping ice off my windshield so she ran out and took the scrapper away from me and insisted on finishing. The girls for some reason think of me as an honorary grandfather and since i had open heart surger and a quintuple bypass seem to go out of their way to make sure I don’t over extend myself 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Back in ye olden days (1986-1987), when I was driving airline crews who had layovers to and from the hotel and airport, I overheard one of the ladies telling the rest of the crew how she gave some fat woman diet coke (or pepsi, whatever) instead of the regular that she asked for. I stoically kept my big trap shut, but I really wanted to tell her that if it were me, I would have tasted the difference, and would have lodged a complaint with the airline.

    I’ve also seen a restaurant manager pick up most of a basket of fries that had been spilled on the floor, toss them back into the basket, and drop them in the fryer for another 15 or 20 seconds. After he left the kitchen, I threw them out and did up a fresh basket, because I would rather be fired for disobeying an implicit order than for potentially making someone sick.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diet coke
      which has nutrasweet
      which some people are deathly allergic to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Housemate can’t have high fructose corn syrup, something he found out only recently. He ended up having stomach ulcers after a friend or coworker gave him a can of Fanta that was from the US.

        I’ve had someone say ‘But stevia is natural!’ in protest once when I said I could not have sugar substitutes. I’m okay with honey, maple sugar, glucose syrup, golden syrup, cane and beet sugars; but I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll avoid anything that’s listed as ‘sugar free’ or ‘low sugar’ because I don’t need help in getting sick.


        1. Out of curiosity only (don’t want to tell you to do something that might make you violently ill), do you know if this applies to sucralose (Splenda), too? I only ask because it’s chemically almost identical to sucrose.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I react the same to splenda, aspartame, stevia, nutrasweet, acesulfame K. I’ve found that out over the years. Splenda I found out about because I’d just come from Germany, and thought it was just a brand of sugar, and put it in coffee. Cue spending a while bent over the porcelain throne, hurling until I had bile coming out, and was still heaving. Ditto with diet coke (I didn’t know any better) and I tasted a free sample of Coke Zero and ended up having to be sent home from work because of the palpitations and dizziness.

          Looking back I don’t know if the palpitations from my encounter with Splenda were from the throwing up, or a separate symptom.


        3. If you’re ever in the USA, be aware the FDA allows soft drink bottlers to substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar without noting it on the nutrition label. (what’s the *ing label *for*, then?!)

          Most people put the off-taste down as a bad batch or something, but Stevia (the current favorite among the bottlers) tastes bitter to me, which resulted in me going cold turkey after decades as a Cokeaholic.

          Also, artificial sweeteners are in just about everything now, from the coatings on some brands of aspirin to the “seasoning” some places shake out over French fries. It’s so common that most people don’t even notice.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. … I guess I’ll have to cross the USA from list of places to visit simply because the food will result in a dance through the minefield of allergic reactions. Touring hospitals is not my idea of a good time. *sad*


        5. From what i’ve read, they are listed by their generic or chemical name


        6. I -hate- the taste of corn syrup in soda, which is why I drink diet soda. Even Tab tastes better than that to me.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. I actually like the taste of aspartame. Weird, right?

          Liked by 1 person

      2. All the artificial sweeteners give me horrible migraine. And I do often get a batch of Dr Pepper that’s diet in a regular container. I either go get a replacement or, more often, just pitch it. It’s kind of rare but it does happen. I just call Dr Pepper and they usually send me coupons for free replacement product. The headache lasts for days even though I have migraine meds.


  12. Couple of random (but somewhat related) thoughts:

    I had a friend once who would say he was “allergic to tomatoes.” When I asked him about that, he confessed he wasn’t literally allergic, he just said that because he hated them. My thought bubble was “wow if enough people do this then those with genuine allergies [and I have them but not severe, and not food related] won’t be taken seriously.”

    Another friend of mine becomes violently ill shortly after eating peas. His (then) girlfriend’s parents decided he was just being silly and cooked up something with peas slipped in. They got what they deserved; he threw up right there on the table.

    I do tend to go for diet soda, on the “don’t waste calories” principle (cf. Podkayne of Mars). I’d rather get those calories with some delicious food than with liquid loaded with sugar.


    1. I knew someone who was fine with dairy products – unless they were cooked. Cheese? Okay. Cheese on pizza? HELL NO – ends up in hospital. Milk on cereal? Fine. Milk in stew? Nope nope nope, see above. It was fascinating.


      1. I’m just the opposite. If it’s cooked I guess it takes whatever the allergen (and it’s an allergy not an intolerance) is out or at least calms it down enough. But I don’t like dairy all that much anyway. Only time it bothers me is if I have too much pizza then I’m not a happy camper.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Sugar substitutes – Can’t have them. My children and I went to a small pancake house back in Manila for a late breakfast during one of those days where we were doing paperwork and going to the appointments for our immigration, just when sugar substitutes were being touted by all the celebs as FUCKING AWESOME FOR EVERYONE. That place used them in the pancakes and syrup. All three of us had reactions – my son itched a lot, daughter threw up; I threw up, had heart palpitations and was crippled with dizziness and vomiting for the next 48 hours, and the next 72 recovering. I’ll also react rather randomly (not all the time) to seafood (which really makes me sad, because I like seafood) and I’ll get itching from food like kiwi fruit, passionfruit, dragonfruit, wasabi… so if I sample first, it’s to see if I react.

    On the ‘argh, health food fanatics’ side, it’s taken a LOT of effort to convince relatives that no, removing sugar from my diet is BAD – I’m hypoglycemic. YES every blood test I’ve had shows that my blood sugar levels are on the lower side of normal; I drink cola and put sugar in my tea for a reason. Oh and yes my cholesterol and sodium levels are AMAZING sorry to disappoint the ‘well meaning’ relatives who were looking forward to lecturing me. (All those eggs I ate in high school and college were apparently good for me.)

    But yeah, because of the above, I won’t fuck with people’s dietary restrictions or requests. Just let me know in advance so I can accommodate it. We’ve had plenty of guests say ‘oh anything is fine’ then suddenly tell us as dinner is served ‘I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy, I’m vegetarian!’ *snarl*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heh. I make about four of you, so people hate me when I tell them my cholesterol numbers.

      As for that last paragraph – Wha??!? Do they think that EVERYONE is vegetarian or something?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know. It’s happened enough times that my mother and I hate hate hate HATE vegetarians-by-choice. Every single one of the ‘pure’ vegetarians we’ve had the misfortune to host have been the holier than thou snotty assdrippings that were also a basket of crazy.

        The one vegetarian I don’t mind is brother in law’s girlfriend – she at least has dairy, eggs, fish. Where I come from though, that’s not a vegetarian (though, apparently, it supposedly is, here. o.O )

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The “religious vegans” (as I call them…why can’t they go back to Vega where they came from?) are the worst.

          They love to invade totally unrelated fora and do nothing but talk about how eeeevil it is to eat animals. (Of course the rejoinder is that if doG didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.)

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Not quite vegan – these didn’t mind using leather shoes.


        3. (derp, accidentally hit send) but yeah, do not like vegans either, because of the ‘tude.


        4. The people I know refer to the latter type as a “Lacto-Ovo” vegetarian, where dairy, eggs, and (for some weird reason) fish are not considered “animals”, so they don’t count against being “vegetarian”.

          I’ve met ONE couple who were “vegetarians-by-choice” who didn’t proselytize, though they did think that people who eat meat should go through the process of bring it from the hoof to the table at least once, so they actually knew what they were consuming. I don’t really have a problem with that, because too many think that the meat they get at the store didn’t harm any animals.

          Liked by 3 people

        5. Yeah; that’s what I knew them as too. Rhys says that here, it’s just ‘vegetarian’ as far as he knows.

          I don’t have an issue with the ‘prepare your food’ idea myself, for the same reason you don’t. I’ve happily explained to my children that the chickens that are pets are pets only because we choose to NOT eat them, they’re food otherwise.

          That, and Vincent went bunny hunting with Daddy over the Easter break, so he knows that rabbits are food too. (He helped fetch the bunny after shooting.)

          Liked by 2 people

        6. “How do you know is someone is a vegetarian?”

          “Just wait and they’ll tell you all about it.”

          Some of the weird-but-hilarious things I came across while reading WWII history were comments by Albert Speer and Rudolf Hess, about Hitler lecturing the Reich leadership at banquets about how they should become vegetarians like he was. And despite the Party hierarchy and personal oaths of obedience, they just ignored him and doubled down on the steaks and chops.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. Your intermittent allergy to shellfish may not be the shellfish but something that is added during growth or processing – for a while I had an intermittent, seemingly random, reaction to shrimp. I found out that farmed shrimp in many places are dosed with large quantities of penicillin; sometimes the doses are large enough that after processing, transport, and cooking enough is present to problems. Since I’m allergic to penicillin, that explains why I sometimes had a reaction to it.
      The same goes for hormones, anti fungal agents, etc.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I found I could eat shellfish and fish obtained or farmed in Arctic waters; while I lived in Europe I could eat seafood just fine. But when I moved back to the Philippines I could not eat any freshwater fish except for three types ( tilapia, monkfish, and cream dory) and tuna and red snapper, which were deepwater fish. Shellfish was right out no. My dad thinks it may have to do with what lives on the water and how fresh the seafood is.


  14. I’ve had to explain to more than one bartender that I wasn’t drinking beer because I’m allergic to wheat and then ask if they had an epi pen handy to handle it if he made a mistake. They were very careful to make sure I got exactly what I ordered.


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