Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we have one of the last issues of Off The Menu (though there are still a few more). If you’re sad about that, well, maybe you should’ve submitted more stories so I didn’t run out. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
Editor’s note – as in the actual editor here at Bitter Empire: we’re turning comments back on for the last few grab bags. BUT – I’m going to delete and ban anyone that feels that the best comment they can make is to slam the site, to wish Pinkham was writing at another site, etc. Yep, we’re small. Yep, Pinkham is about all we’re running now. Colin did us a solid by writing for us; hopefully, he feels we did him a solid by hosting. We definitely did you all a solid by giving you a place to read it for, you know, free. So knock it off.
I was one of two Papa John’s drivers about 10 minutes from the end of my shift on a Tuesday, and it was snowing pretty hard. A delivery came in, and because I had an SUV, the manager let the other driver leave (even though he was supposed to take the next delivery) and sent me on the delivery. I wasn’t too thrilled about it.
It was a bit of a haul, but nowhere near the longest trip we had to make (we delivered to a huge area because it was a rural town in Illinois). The house was back in the woods, and had a gravel driveway, though the driveway was in better shape than the road because of the tree cover. I got to the door and an older couple answered together. I handed them their 2 pizzas and said their bill was just under $20. She handed me $60.
I was stunned, and managed something like “this is way too much, are you sure?” She said “Oh yes, you keep it. You drove all this way in the snow and our driveway isn’t easy. Don’t worry about it.” I could have kissed her. I was too shocked to thank her as much as I should have at the time, but that meant so much to me.
I worked in a McDonald’s for five years in the 90’s, and during that time I saw three people fired on the spot. One of them gave out free food to her friends and was fired for stealing; another was arrested by multiple police officers while working the grill for reasons I never did find out.
In 2010, I had just moved out of home and was waitressing part-time at a coffee food chain in Australia called Coffee Club. We were in the middle of a busy shopping centre, right in front of a department store. We were too small to be a restaurant (which meant we would have had to serve alcohol), but about three times the size of what normal Coffee Club cafes were, so we could hold A LOT of people (at least 75 people, it was heinous) and it was usually pretty busy.
The dealio with food is you can either order something through the kitchen, or pick something from the display fridge to have cooked if it’s a savory dish. Anything that came from the fridge was overpriced and came with a side salad.
So one day, this lady and her kids decide to order a sausage roll. I ring it up, pass the sausage roll out to the kitchen, they cook it, make the salad and I bring it out.
As I’m on my way back to the counter, I see this lady with her daughters barreling up there. She’s holding her receipt, demanding to know why her food was so expensive (about nine bucks for a sausage roll and salad). The manager gives her the whole spiel about how we don’t set prices, head office does, and she would have seen how much the item was since the prices are displayed. This lady pitches a fit the likes of which remains unmatched in my extensive time in customer service. She starts demanding a refund, which the manager says she can’t issue since she’s eaten part of the meal. She tries to appease her with free coffee vouchers (which usually works). This lady then starts yelling how she’s sick. she’s just come to lunch with her daughters, and she shouldn’t have to put up with this. Keep in mind, we’re in the middle of a shopping centre, so EVERYONE can hear her, not just the people eating.
When the whole “I’m sick” thing doesn’t work, she starts telling us she knows mob members, and she can sic them on us and have our business ruined. I worked in Perth, where the likelihood of organized crime existing to such a degree was pretty laughable, considering the population had only just hit a million. It’s like the mob existing in somewhere lame and not very populated in America (just pick a place cause idk). [Editor’s Note: So…Pittsburgh.]
Her daughters are also getting involved at this point, trying to see what the barista’s name is by leaning over what is a pretty large pick-up counter and trying to see her name tag. They start harassing her while she’s trying to make coffee and not get killed. Eventually, their yelling gets security called over and they have to be escorted out of the shopping centre. This seriously went on for about fifteen minutes, which is an eternity when someone is alternately crying, yelling, and making threats over a fucking sausage roll.
Do you have any food-related stories you’d like to see included in Off The Menu? Feel free to submit them to WilyUbertrout@gmail.com. New submissions are always welcome! (Seriously, you don’t need to ask if I want you to send them in, the answer is always yes). If you’d like to stay up to date with OTM news, my Twitter handle is @EyePatchGuy.