Tooting The Gluten

by admin on September 27, 2011

I always hoped that I would never have a story to tell you, mostly because it’s just plain embarrassing for me to witness a faux pas and also because I like to think that people are better than *that*.  However, what happened this weekend was just too boorish to not send in, in the hopes that people will learn by example and never, NEVER do this!

My husband, J, and I flew out to attend our friend N’s wedding in Missouri and were accompanied by N’s other friends C and K, who live close to us.  (The wedding was lovely, tasteful, full of wonderful people and has nothing to do with this story other than background.)  K, bless her heart, is gluten intolerant, VERY gluten intolerant and has to be exceptionally careful of what she eats or it becomes life-threatening.  For example, if something touches something containing gluten and then touches her food, she has a reaction; she’s THAT sensitive.  And K is very up front about using trigger words (allergic, gluten-free, etc) when placing orders at restaurants to keep herself safe.

So K, C, N, J and I go to this nice little independent sandwich/salad/pizza shop for dinner when we get in.  You order at the counter and then take a number to your seat and they bring your food to you.  Everyone orders.  Food’s great.  Everyone’s happy.  We decide to go there for breakfast the next day, especially because they have a gluten free menu for K.  Morning comes, we order, and K is careful to use her trigger words when ordering a gluten free omelet and we all go sit down to wait for our food.  The waiter (same guy who took our food up at the counter and whom I am naming B) comes and brings a meal for K that is definitely NOT gluten free.  There is an English Muffin sitting ON TOP OF her eggs, and granola in her fruit cup thingy, effectively ruining her food.

K politely tells the waiter, B, that she cannot eat this because of her allergy and asks him to remake it.  He says something to the effect of, “You can’t eat any of it?”, and she explains that no, she can’t because there is gluten touching her food.  He says “Sorry” and whisks the plate back to the kitchen.  A little short, but no real offense.  Not yet.

The waiter returns some time later with fresh food and C, K’s husband, asks if B was the manager (he was currently dressed in khaki’s and a navy polo, very different from what everyone else who worked at the restaurant wore).  B says no and why?

“I’m just a little upset that you took my wife’s order, you heard that she asked for gluten free, and you brought this,” says C.  “And you didn’t apologize for it.”

“I did apologize, I apologized for it when I took the food away!” protests B (which is true, I heard him).  “What do you want from me?” he continues, getting a little hot under the collar.  “Do you want a formal letter of apology?  Do you want a refund?”  (B is practically yelling at this point)

“Actually, yes, I would like a refund” C replies, still calm.  “I’m just upset because my wife can’t eat this kind of food.”

“Well, I brought her new food and I didn’t charge you for it and I’m going to get you a refund!” B storms off, but not before we hear him huff “jack****s” rather loudly in the aisle behind us.

I am MORTIFIED, Ms. Jeanne!  K is looking hurt, C is rather triumphant.  N and J are trading looks that say “We are NEVER coming back here AGAIN!”  And I can still see B at the counter, yelling back to one of the cooks in the back, gesturing angrily towards us.  Our group quietly finishes our food and scoots out of there rather quick.

Now, I admit that I think C pressed the issue a little too far, but B’s reaction (and towards a customer!) just about stunned me.  How could this kind of situation be addressed better?  How can one best defend one’s self against Rude Aliens from the Planet Booron without becoming one?   0912-11

For some added background, readers, I did confirm with the story writer that the meal K ordered was not the same as what she was given.   She did not order oatmeal or an English muffin.  Further, the waiter not only comped K’s meal but gave them a $15-20 gift card as well.

A considerable component of gracious manners is to know when to overlook an offense and to certainly not escalate the problem any further.      I’m going to lay the blame on C as the main Booron in this story for the following reasons:

1.  C presumed that the waiter had gotten the order wrong.   The waiter may have or he may not have.  Instead the kitchen staff may have not executed the order correctly.  So, taking an antagonistic approach to blame the waiter for the error when the evidence is not conclusive set up the scenario of the waiter not reacting well.

2.  While the waiter’s behavior in resolving the issue was not exceptionally tactful or gracious, he did promptly address the problem with a “Sorry”, replaced K’s food with something she could eat (and had actually ordered) and comped her meal.   Yes, it would be optimal for the waiter to have said, “I am so sorry for this error.  I take full responsibility. Please allow me to fix this for you,” but in a real world, one should be practically euphoric that a “sorry” crossed his lips so sometimes we have to take what we can get.  If we walk  through life expecting people to jump through our personal hoops for how it should be *exactly* done to our satisfaction, we will be consumed with critical frustration at the imperfection of humankind .  C made it clear that the manner in which the waiter resolved the problem was not up to his high standards and as he confronts the waiter, the scene is set for an epic etiquette failure by both.

3.   C was not content with a simple apology, fresh food and his wife’s meal comped.  For a gracious person, this would have been enough.   His wife is once again happy, they can finish a safe, gluten-free meal, and all is well with the world.   Well, not quite.  C wants something more.   I can’t speculate as to his motives but the description of the storywriter of C’s “triumphant” look suggests to me that his escalation was more about male ego and power than any real concern to address an injustice.   For pushing the issue, he gets a gift card which means he and his wife ate for free that morning. Was the triumphant look because he knew he had pushed the envelope and scored free food?

I’m sure many of you will object that the waiter was outrageously ill mannered.  There is not way to sugarcoat what he did….he was flat out wrong to go on a cursing rant.  But I also predict this would have *never* happened if C had not pushed for more.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

a September 27, 2011 at 4:51 am

I agree that C was massively at fault. Although the waiter’s reaction seems a bit over the top; the way it is portrayed makes me feel like C wanted to rub it in that waiter is just a Poor Waiter who should apologise because C has graced his place with a visit… I would have apologised myself to the waiter afterwards if I have been part of the group.

I also wonder if K made it clear *how* gluten allergic she is. Although I know quite a few people with this allergy, I have yet to meet someone who would not have been able to eat an omelette that touched gluten, if it is removed and there are no crumbs left. (But this may be more common than I think?) Nevertheless, I think it is on C to make this clear, I don’t think you can expect a waiter to make this assumption.

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Rug Pilot September 27, 2011 at 5:08 am

Speaking as someone who was recently poisoned in a restaurant, I remind you that you could kill someone doing that. I was served something I did not order, pork in my vegetarian omelet, which I did not see until I began to feel the illness. I lost my lunch in the restaurant and then had to go back to my friend’s house and spend the rest of the day in bed recovering from the initial attack. For the following week I could not keep any food in my system and was too weak to go back to work for the week after that. I missed the last day of a conference I was attending in the area, and two weeks of work, not to mention the pain. One man’s treat is another man’s poison.

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koolchicken September 27, 2011 at 5:39 am

I’m curious to know if he does this often in an attempt to get free food. As a person with celiac disease myself I know that eating out is AWLAYS a risk. Mistakes are extremely common and ignorance of the disease even more so, it doesn’t really matter if you use “trigger words”. Perhaps the real reason he fought with the waiter is that he wasn’t offered a free meal straight away. Often when I’m served something unsafe, such as a salad with croutons, they tell us it’ll be taken off the bill when they bring out the replacement.

I never blame the server as it’s not their job to prepare the food. If I feel there’s still an issue after my food has been taken back (crumbs on the salad suggesting the croutons had just been picked off) I calmly speak to the manager. I think it’s a great opportunity to educate restaurant staff about what is, and isn’t safe for celiac’s and it makes the dining experience safer for me and others safer in the future. Yelling accomplishes nothing.

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me September 27, 2011 at 5:44 am

I agree that C just pushed it too far, the waiter was cranky but not worth the hassle C made of it.
This reminds me of a night out with my friends not long ago. We live on the east coast of Australia in a very touristy place and the restaurant (Bistro in an RSL club) was busy. My husband B our friend D and his brother S all ordered the chicken shnitzel, I had eaten about a quarter of my chicken when I noticed the next bite was RED I mean RAW very very raw, I was horrified but before I could say anything, S announced his was raw too, B and D had eaten most of theirs already but the remainder seemed ok. My husband and S took the two raw meals back and told the lady at the counter, and THIS is where is really gets horrifying, she told them to eat around it!!! RAW CHICKEN!! as the very edges were cooked, they were mortified and told her NO they could NOT eat around it, she said ‘well what do you want then?” not even an apology!. S and B got a complaint form and filled it out saying that two out of 4 chickens were raw and the other two may have been but were not checked. All four meals cost $80 two couldnt really be eaten because they were raw and even the veges had raw chicken juice in them, and guess what we were compensated? by a $15 gift card for the bistro! um no thanks….. Raw chicken can kill, you would think they would do their best to try and prevent a lawsuit or at least their reputation because after that horrible treatment I can assure you we have told everyone we can not to eat there. We received NO apology whatsoever, the only person in the club who was shocked was a young girl working at reception.

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QueenofAllThings September 27, 2011 at 6:44 am

I’m with the Admin on this. In fact, I’d go even further. Why comp the meal? Mistakes happen all the time – meat is under-/over-cooked, etc – and no one gets a free meal, just a correct one. I think the husband has decided that he can use his wife, and her allergy, to get free food.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat the wait staff.

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lkb September 27, 2011 at 7:05 am

I agree with the Admin on this.

I also wanted to point out that the world is just catching up on gluten free diets. I did not know until I read this post that while what one eats is important, how the food is served is equally important. It could very well be that the server and/or the cooks (possibly a brand-new one?) did not know it either.

Glad K survived this ordeal.

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TheVapors September 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

I agree with admin on this one.

Up until C complained, nothing was really all that wrong. Mistakes happen. K said she couldn’t eat what was brought out, and it was remedied. No real harm.

I’m going to be a little harsher on the waiter than admin seemed, though. After C started complaining, the waiter should’ve handled it better. You’re serving customers, after all, sometimes you have to deal with annoying people. He could’ve offered another apology as he brought the food out saying he was sorry for the mix-up. He definitely shouldn’t call people names or start yelling. His reaction was over the top and improper.

But, C just had to be “extra right” on a non-issue. That’s plain obnoxious. And his actions turned a simple mistake into a really uncomfortable confrontation for everyone.

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Former Waiter September 27, 2011 at 8:21 am

I think I know where C was coming from. This was a restaurant that advertised it had a menu for a special diet. The patrons did not order something not on the menu and did not request anything be altered from the menu. It is the waiter’s responsibility to check the orders before they are taken from the kitchen to make sure they are what was ordered. This waiter obviously did not pay attention to the order even when he was serving it, and the results could have been deadly. C’s reaction, though not the best, had an impact. This was not something a simple “sorry” could undo had K actually eaten what was served her.

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1st-Time Mommy September 27, 2011 at 8:40 am

Having spent many years prior working in the service industry, C sounds like one of those types who enjoys lording power over the “little people”. While the waiter’s response is unacceptable, I can sympathize with the frustration of being treated as a second-class citizen by the sort of customer who assumes that, due to your position, you are somehow uneducated or lower-class.

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L.J. September 27, 2011 at 8:40 am

C is a bully. The issue was resolved, K had fresh food, and yet C had to bring it up again with the waiter. Why? Merely because C wanted to argue with someone he knew was limited in being able to respond. I wish the waiter had turned out to be the owner of the place, so he could have kicked C out.

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Harley Granny September 27, 2011 at 8:42 am

I agree with admin….I also think that C started the free fall.

I wonder if he was just showing off in front of friends.
I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t eat there again. I’d just say that I wouldn’t eat there again with C.

The waiter did over re-act but would not have done so if C hadn’t been so borish.

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Hemi Halliwell September 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

C was rude *AND* the waiter was rude, especially for using curse words.
I agree with the OP and Admin that C pushed the issue a little too far. While I understand his wife is gluten-intolerant and must have her meals a certain way, the OP states that the waiter did apologize(with a “sorry”) and did correct the problem. Plus, as Admin points out, B may not have been the one to actually prepare the food (rarely have I seen the person who takes the order prepare it), but C just keeps pushing B’s buttons. Why? Just to get the meal comped? Was a free meal actually worth the scene and embarrassing your wife & friends? Especially AFTER the problem had been corrected.

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PhDeath September 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

Ah: I’m relieved. As I read the description I was thinking, “Uh-oh: I’m not feeling much sympathy for the husband here. Perhaps my rude-dar is off…?”

Naturally, the server should not have been voicing (or rather, mumbling) any inconsiderate asides – very unprofessional. But C, unfortunately, was rewarded for raising an unnecessary stink – sadly increasing the chance that he will continue with his behavior.

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Amber September 27, 2011 at 9:33 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

C’s behavior was really ungracious. After working as a server for years, I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as perfect service every time. Sometimes mistakes happen, and as long as the mistake is fixed promptly (as in K’s case — and she even had her meal comped, which is more than most places do in the event of an incorrect order!), and the waiter is efficient (if not grovelling), then I have no problem with the waiter, the kitchen or the restaurant.

Unfortunately, I think some people who visit restaurants tend to put blinders on and forget that they aren’t the only customers ordering that day or ever. So when a mistake happens, they take it very personally. It was customers like that who made me wish that everyone was forced to work food service at some point so that they could understand what goes on behind the scenes a little better.

As to B’s rant, yes, out of line. But I wonder at C’s tone during this conversation. It seems odd that the manager of a restaurant would simply explode at a “calm request” unless he was having a heck of a bad day.

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Chocobo September 27, 2011 at 9:35 am

I agree that C is the person most in the wrong here. The mistake was corrected, and because the waiter wasn’t groveling about it C gets an attitude and pushes the issue instead of making mental note of the less-than-satisfactory service and never returning. Had I been the OP and witnessed C’s play for power, I would have been mortified. Not because the waiter was mediocre, but because C was quickly becoming *that* customer.

Now the waiter wasn’t a terribly good waiter, either. I remember dealing with self-righteous customers just like C, who were cantankerous and unhappy no matter how much I groveled, and the best thing to do is to slap on a fake smile and give them what they want just to get them out of your table. If they were really unreasonable, getting the manager is the best.

Although it was idiotic to be rude back to a rude customer, and to question whether or not K truly had allergies, I do understand his incredulity. So many people claim to have “allergies” when they just don’t like it, and ruin the gravity of the situation for people who are actually allergic. As a waiter, it was his responsibility to keep that doubt, and later, irritation, all bottled up for a good long rant back in the break room, out of earshot. He epically failed at that, and that’s his fault, but I still blame C the most for responding to his perceived slight with greater ungraciousness.

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GroceryGirl September 27, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thank you Admin! People are always so quick to blame “the help” in these kinds of situations. The waiters reaction was inappropriate for sure but C was definitely gunning for him. The story makes no mention of tone and which makes me wonder how aggressively C was speaking. I’m glad you’re speaking out for the waiter here. The customer isn’t always right, and is certainly not free to commit ehellish acts of rudeness.

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Just Laura September 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

I agree with Admin. I would be thrilled with a brief apology and a comped meal.

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Mippa September 27, 2011 at 9:46 am

I am in complete agreement with the Admin. C was the party at fault here.

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Serenity S September 27, 2011 at 9:48 am

I agree that both C and B were rude. B should not have flown off the handle and said a swear word about a customer (which I wonder if he really said loudly, or just under his breath which seems more likely), but C was very rude first. B said he was sorry, replaced the wife’s food, and even comped her meal; that would have been more than enough apology for most people. I agree with Admin that C probably just had an ego problem, and that it was likely the kitchen that made the mistake not B. If I was K, I would be very embarrassed about my husbands behavior. I would not want to even show my face in that restaurant again to use the free gift card C scored with his rant!

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Samantha September 27, 2011 at 9:49 am

I, too, am gluten-intolerant, though not so severely as K. I have lost count of the number of times I have specified that I want a salad with no croutons because of my intolerance and been brought a salad with croutons. Because my intolerance is milder, if the croutons are big enough I will pick them out. However, some restaurants use tiny, crumbly croutons and there’s no easy way to get them out without crushing them into the salad. Those are the times I ask the server to bring me another salad. I have never had my salad or my meal comped — just received a replacement salad without being charged for it. I have also never acted like the wait staff owed me something for the mistake. Only once have I been treated disrespectfully, when a waitress asked me rather petulantly if I couldn’t just pick out the croutons and then when I said I couldn’t huffed “fine”. I still didn’t demand that my salad be comped or that my meal be free (though her tip was reduced by 5%). If I were K, I would be rather perturbed at C for his rude behaviour, considering the waiter did replace my meal for one I could eat. As a note, I didn’t see any mention of K’s meal being comped before C started berating the waiter so it may well not have been if he hadn’t raised a fuss. However, I’m of the belief that a meal should only be comped if a dish could not be eaten AND the restaurant could not replace it with another meal of equal or greater value. I certainly would never DEMAND a comped meal.

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Clair Seulement September 27, 2011 at 10:05 am

You’re absolutely right, Admin. People wonder why retail workers, and the general public when it comes to attitudes toward special diets, seem to have chips on their shoulders, and C’s behavior is a diagnostic example of the reason. Don’t use restaurants as a venue in which to wrestle with your inferiority complex; that’s what therapists are for.

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Maitri September 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

Yeah the boorish customer trumps the boorish waiter. The waiter apologized and made it right – there’s no need to bash him over the head with his error. I think that just about anyone who was repeatedly told that they’d made a mistake, after they’d already made it right, would get annoyed and lose their cool.

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Marjorie Margarine September 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

I agree, Miss Jeanne. I am not sure why C thought they deserved a refund at all. I have frequently gotten an accidental wrong order at a restaurant (and when I waited tables, I even gave a few wrong orders a time or two) and the fix has ALWAYS been to replace it with the right order quickly and apologize for the inconvenience. I have never tried to get anyone’s food comped, or even had anyone suggest that I comp their ENTIRE meal for a few minutes of inconvenience. Comping someone’s food is more appropriate when they get terrible service all through the meal, the food is cold, has a hair in it/whatever, the waiter never showed back up to fix it and now they have to leave so they flag down the manager and tell him their horror story.

Mistakes happen in restaurants. That’s part of the risk of going to a restaurant. Waiters are underpaid (here the server wage is $2.13/hr) and often hassled by customers for “free” food, and hassled by managers when they confront them about giving a table free food. Though the waiter surely shouldn’t have called the table a foul word, I would’ve been thinking some choice things about C, too, like he was going to stiff me on a tip and was a total jerk who was just looking for free food. I can’t believe he managed to get them a gift certificate on top of the comped meal. I would not have done that. Also, while I have sympathy for the poster’s friend’s severe gluten allergy, it seems almost impossible for her to be able to eat in a restaurant. While the restaurant may have a gluten free menu, I can’t imagine that they are using different utensils for gluten free foods, or that there is NO chance the food will come into contact with foods containing gluten.

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AS September 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

“B” was out of line for swearing at a customer, but come on… he was probably having a busy or bad day, and he still said sorry (I think replacing the food for free is good enough for sorry). But I agree with admin. While reading, I too was thinking too that “C” didn’t have to push the matter too long. He was offended for some reason, and decided to pick a fight with the waiter even after he took the necessary steps to rectify the error.

I feel sorry for the OP and other friends who had to witness the embarrassing situation.

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David September 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

I agree with the admin on this. While the waiter was definitely rude to go on a swearing rant, the first rudeness was C’s. The meal has been replaced and comped, the waiter has apologized – why press the issue?

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The Elf September 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

The waiter could have been more polite in his apology, but C was over the top. First of all, it is K’s issue to pursue, since she is the wronged party. It was her order that was messed up, she had to wait while the others had their food, and it was potentially a very serious mistake given her condition. She used the right words, so she did not order incorrectly or anything that might indicate that she had some share of blame. If K was satisfied with the fix (surely this is not the first time this error has happened), C shouldn’t have brought anything up. If K was unsatisfied, she could ask C to bring it up, but why not press for a refund herself?

How to defend oneself against rudeness? Well, up until the point C opened his big mouth there was nothing to defend. This sounds like a simple mistake, and it was rectified correctly. If K really wanted a refund out of it, instead of just replacement food, the correct person to bring that up to is the manager, not the waiter.

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Xtina September 27, 2011 at 10:25 am

I have to agree with the admin–I think C really made the scene bad in this story. The waiter reacted a bit more rudely than he should have, but I think he wouldn’t have behaved the way he did had C not pushed it. It was almost as if C was TRYING to see if he could cause a scene.

I have a friend whose husband is like this–he thinks he’s being direct and polite by not raising his voice and telling them very plainly what his problem with the service is, but he comes off as being condescending and picky–and as if he’s better than the waitstaff or manager. The classic case of “I’m the customer and I’m right”–complete with the snotty air of superiority. That’s usually way worse than whatever he’s complaining about.

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Jay September 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

Yeah, I have to agree with Admin on this one.

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many bells down September 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

My husband and my father are both celiacs. Mistakes happen. My husband doesn’t really like to eat out, because he hates “being a bother” by having to ask the waitstaff to find out whether he can eat something or not, especially since the waiters don’t always know. A lot of places use flour to bulk up the mashed potatoes, but invariably our server is taken aback when we ask them to check.

When my spouse and I got married, my father hosted our reception at a restaurant owned by a longtime family friend. They all knew my dad’s entree had to be gluten free, so we were surprised when his special GF chicken came out … with a nice side of pasta and a breadstick.

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LovleAnjel September 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

I am going to agree with the admin on this one. The waiter solved the problem & comped the food. Maybe he wasn’t groveling for forgiveness but he doesn’t have to. What C did was embarrassing for him, his wife, and their companions. The rest of the customers came away with a bad impression of C, and probably thinking, “That poor waiter. I’m glad that customer is not anyone I know.”

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Tyler September 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

While I’m not excusing the waiter’s reaction, which was incredibly over-the-top, I think a lot of people underestimate the stress involved in food service, and he could have very well already had a stressful day dealing with other pushy or difficult clientele. I still blame most of the matter on C, though. The whole problem had been addressed and dealt with, but he felt the need to push the issue even further, unnecessarily so. He reminds me of a couple with whom I used to go out (key words: used to), who basically expected to be treated like royalty everywhere they went, and who also would usually end up belittling the wait staff and/or complaining to management at some point during every outing. Frankly, it was embarrassing, and I would often leave a very generous tip to compensate.

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Miriam September 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

I don’t appreciate guests that continually press an issue to score a free meal. Yes, the kitchen often makes mistakes and servers should check the food, but how many other people was he serving that it could have slipped his mind? Mornings for breakfast restraunts are awful (from my experience) having to be there 4:30 a.m. setting up, drinking awful coffee, then waiting for the first guests to arrive around 9a.m. His experience may have not been as long as a morning that I’ve been used to, but really he apologized and fixed the issue. C needs to get over that the server didn’t get on his knees and grovel, his wife was obviously satisfied with the change of plates and could have left it at that. (Perhaps reflect his disapproval in the tips?)

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gramma dishes September 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

B may have been rude, but given the situation as described, I think C is the one who really committed the more serious breaches of etiquette. The OP seems to (mostly) blame the waiter and finds his behavior egregious, but C is the one I’d try to avoid in the future. I don’t think I’d enjoy dining with someone like him. I’d be embarrassed and feel ‘guilt by association’.

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Raven September 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

It’s scary when a restaurant gets your order wrong; I say that as someone with a severe gluten allergy. However, everyone with any sort of allergy knows that when you let ANYONE prepare your food for you, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of a mistake being made, or cross-contamination happing. It’s too bad, but there it is.

The allergy-sufferer’s husband should know this; eating out is risky when you have an allergy. Mistakes can, and often do, happen. When they do, you should always point it out to your server (AND speak to the manager, to make sure it’s not an error in training) and graciously accept whatever apologies may come your way. It’s not like the people in the kitchen are out to get you! Things happen, and while it’s unfortunate, it’s not worth being a total jerk over.

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Edhla September 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

As someone who works as a “middle woman” (I work in a call centre) I can appreciate the waiter’s position. He did not make the food; his job is to bring it to the table. C acted like it was entirely the fault of the waiter and the waiter is probably sick of these boors blaming him for something he did not make or prepare. (And depending on the business of the restaurant, it’s not certain he would remember her order off the top of his head. In high-volume jobs you can only really cope if you learn to take each customer as they come and not fixate on one you had twenty minutes back.)

C is a boor. I HATE people like that. Like I said, my job is in a contact call centre. Half the time I deal with customers who are unhappy because someone in another department, who is hiding behind me, messed up. I apologise. I attempt to fix what has gone wrong (that someone else did wrong, that someone else will not be called to apologise for even though THEY did it). There are many customers who won’t accept this and their “pushing the envelope”, as you describe it, is purely unreasonable.

And I think they do it because they are bullies.

They enjoy the feeling of power that comes with pushing someone around when they are in a position where they CAN’T fight back and tell them where to get off. They know that your job requires you to grovel and beg and act like a lesser human being to keep their business. And these despicable people get off on the “power” they feel it gives them over you. They become small-scale despots.

C said he was upset because his “wife couldn’t eat any of this.” She was brought food she COULD eat. Is the waiter to blame for her being gluten intolerant now? For mercy’s sake.

Yes, losing his temper was wrong, but I don’t blame him, really. I’ve come close myself.

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Meegs September 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

I completely agree with the Admin here that the person most at fault here was C. There was just no reason for him to escalate the situation.

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Ashley September 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

Wait wait wait, why are we pinning so much of this on C when it is Bs job to take the order properly and be sure that the cooks are aware of anything special about the order? And if the cooks failed to execute something properly, if B is bringing the food out, it’s his job to go “Hey wait a minute, that’s not right”. I am sorry, but the waiter DOES deserve some blame in this situation, as the wait staff is the first person to be made aware of a customer’s issues, and the last line of defense before the food reaches the customer, so even if the cooks goofed, it was still the waiters job to check the ticket and be like “This isn’t right”.

Now don’t get me wrong here, if the meal was replaced and all that other stuff B did to fix the error, then yeah, C is absolutely an ass for making a bigger stink out of it than need be, but if B had done his job right the first time, none of this would have happened at all.

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Aje September 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

agree 100% with admin!

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Calli Arcale September 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I agree with Jeanne. Waiter was wrong to overreact, but it wasn’t unprovoked. Waiters do need to have a thick skin to tolerate the abuse they get from customers, but they’re human, and there’s a limit to what anybody can take. He may have been having a particularly bad day. He handled the mistake appropriately, and then C went nuclear. He didn’t handle the nuclear reaction well, but the fault starts with C.

Also, as a person with a food allergy who knows people with food allergies and even has a cousin with severe gluten intolerance*, I know you have to sort of get used to waitstaff not always understanding. And really, if they don’t have personal experience with it, how can you expect them to? Mess-ups will happen, sooner or later, so you have to be vigilant and expect that sometimes they won’t understand that “gluten free” doesn’t mean the same thing as “wheat free”. And wrong orders happen under normal circumstances all the time; a reasonable person understands and makes allowances for this.

*Gluten intolerance is not a true allergy; actually, gluten intolerance is both better and worse than an allergy — better in that you don’t go into anaphylaxis, and worse in that there is no treatment other than avoidance; not all the Epi-Pens and Benadryl in the world will spare you the torture you will shortly endure after consuming gluten — nor the irreparable intestinal damage that will result.

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Garrett September 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I agree that C was out of line and looked to be on a power trip. Both the waiter and C overreacted, as the problem was rectified somewhat promptly and without fuss (until the argument, that is). Sometimes orders, especially “special” orders, don’t come out right. If he had a real problem, he should’ve talked to the manager discreetly and not even brought the waiter into it. I wonder what was up with B that he got so huffy. That just seems odd.

I do, however, think the waiter should be aware of what was ordered and should’ve seen that what K received was not what she had ordered. It may not be his fault that the food was wrong, but I believe a good waiter should verify the order before delivery.

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smv September 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I find people can be very blase about how severe these allergies can be, and unfortunately how ignorant as well. However having several food allergies myself and my son also had allergies to milk/eggs and peanuts when he was younger (thankfully he outgrew these by the age of 7) I can understand taking care in restaurants and being out and about. I feel though in the end the responsibilities lie in the person with the allergies to be aware of their food needs. We taught my son to ask questions and if there was ever a problem to not make a fuss and to treat the situation politely.
Harassing servers should never an option and truth be told when you consider how many people touch food in restaurants before it comes to you I would be wary of attending any restaurant where food can possibly cross contaminated. I am severely allergic to fish so we avoid Thai as most thai food use fish sauce and even if there are dishes that have no fish sauce there is high chance of contamination as they are all prepared in the same woks. Lucky for me we have founda Thai restaurant that has a section of kitchen that they maintain as a seafood/fish free spot for people with allergies.

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Heather September 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I could be K in this story! I have Celiac Disease and am just as sensitive to gluten as she is. Eating out is a nightmare. I can’t imagine making such a fuss though! I find it embarrassing enough that I have to ask so many questions and make the kitchen staff go so far out of their way just to feed me. I would never make such a royal stink! It’s horrible!

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Meegs September 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I also don’t understand why they accepted a gift card when the OP mentions at the beginning that they had flown in to that location for the wedding. When were they going to use this giftcard?

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Timothy September 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I’m going to have to go with the admin on this one. I’d place the waiter at level 3 in EHell, and C at level 4. The waiter badly over-reacted, but I’d be lying if I said I’d be able to keep my cool when my apology is rejected after comping the meal and bringing back the proper meal.

I mean, who asks for a manager because the waiter screwed up and apologized?

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Brenda September 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Miss E, I agree with you completely on this one. C escalated a mistake into a major kerfuffle that embarrassed, upset and/or angered several people in a restaurant. It was unnecessary and extreme.

There are many people out there who happily take advantage of workers’ mistakes to gain free items. Many restaurant employers illegally take the cost of lost food out of an employee’s paycheck. And, any free food given to a booron costs other guests money.

I would avoid C’s company in the future. I’m sure he has taken a mistake made on K’s food before and managed to score free meals or gift cards in the past, and I’m sure he will happily continue to use it. What a jerk. What an embarrassment for K. At least, I’m hoping she’s embarrassed by her husband’s behavior.

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ellesee September 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’m thinkin the waiter had a horrible day and C just provoked him….bad on both, but more so on C since what he is doing is self-serving.
The better way to handle this with the wallet. C is obviously upset–he and his wife could leave a small or no tip, or never return, to express their opinion.

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Paige September 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I agree with you. The waiter didn’t have to react the way he did but C’s behavior seems more about asserting power and getting a free meal than about concern for the lack of attention on part of the restaurant. I would be very embarrassed and would never let my significant other do something of that nature. My SIL does stuff like that all the time and I am always completely mortified.

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Cami September 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I’d go back to that restaurant, but I’d never eat out with C again.

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Emmerton September 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I do agree that while he waiters response may not have been as gracious of an apology as one would ‘like’, and he came across as being almost indignant that she couldn’t eat any of the food on the original plate.

However her husband treated the situation quite badly, and it does come across as him using her allergy to get free food and push people around. His reaction was completely unnecessary and seemed to be purposefully escalating what normally would be a minor bump in the day and easily forgotten about.

Perhaps the husband was used to waiters making light of her allergy? Perhaps he took the waiters questioning that she can’t eat any of the original food as the waiter being rude and skeptical of her? Maybe he just likes being pushy and knows he’ll get something for free.

Did the waiter react in an equally escalating manor? Was he tired of customers trying to get out of paying? Did he worry there was a scam going on with the table?

Either way, both of them behaved badly.

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Mabel September 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Yes, C definitely overdid it. The waiter, however, needed to keep his thoughts to himself until he was somewhere where he could express them out of any customer’s hearing.

If I were K I would have told my husband to shut the h3ll up!

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