Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we’ve got more stories of wonderful restaurant revenge. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
A few weeks ago, I flew a solo cross-country to an airport with a great restaurant and, apparently, a skydiving club. After I parked and tied down the Cessna, I went and sat in the outdoor section by the fence. The servers and food were great, but in the middle of my pasta, a planeload of skydivers landed. Due to wind, they were coming over my head at about 10-15 feet up. I was watching one of the skydiving planes land when my entire meal got catapulted over the fence and a skydiver just barely missed me and landed a few feet over the fence. I was looking at my food on the ground in shock and the skydiver gathered his parachute, jumped over the fence, and sat down at the closest table to me and acted like nothing happened.
I asked him what that was about and he said: “It’s the fucking weather, not my fault.” The server came over and offered to get me a new meal, and as she was walking away, she said: “That’s the third time this month!” For some reason, they still didn’t have a sign posted warning of skydivers.
On the bright side, the owner of the restaurant and skydiving club made the skydiver clean up the broken plates under threat of no more skydives.
I’m standing in line at a Publix sandwich counter, where they have all the toppings behind the glass. The guy in front of me is ordering each topping by count. First, he asks for two tomatoes, diced. Then a shake of pepper and two of salt (like the damn holes match his home shaker). Then he says the best line ever: “onion, one strand, just lay it on top and take it off.”
The women helping him is lost. I hear it and laugh out loud, as do the two women behind me. He details it again, moving his hands like Marcel Marceau: “I don’t want onion, just the taste of it.”
I was next and told the woman to add the mustard, then remove it. She just laughed, knowing my regular order.
During my summers years ago, I worked at a western themed breakfast/lunch restaurant in northern New Hampshire. You entered through a covered wagon and we had an armadillo hide hanging on the wall. It was a very strange place. Most of our customers were families of tourists. Understandably, sometimes those families, especially the ones with teenagers, were not super pleasant.
One family was particularly fussy the entire time I waited on them and clearly had just been in a large family fight. The dad was trying to bring them together, but it was not working. And the dad’s optimism seemed to be really upsetting mom, who took a lot of her anger out on me. It was more uncomfortable than upsetting for me.
I powered through, dealt with mom sending back food, then changing her order, then fighting the bill. Finally, they left and I rushed to the table to see how little they had tipped. Basically just their change, which was no surprise.
What was a surprise was that the mom had left her dentures wrapped in a napkin. When I told my boss, through a lot of laughter, she told me I had to go the parking lot and return them.
I don’t know who was more humiliated, the mom for leaving her dentures, or me for having to touch them and smile at this lady who had barely tipped me.
Like most colleges, our dining halls occasionally had theme nights. There were luaus, Mexican nights, or barbecue classics at most of the stations instead of the normal offerings. On this particular night my freshman year it was Asian night, because naturally it makes sense to have an entire continent as a theme.
I finished my selection of sushi roll and chow mein, then as was my habit I went to see what ice cream was available that evening. There were usually two unlabelled mystery options in giant, food-service-sized containers, so I was surprised to see a third, medium-sized container in the cooler full of a pale, green colored stuff. I had my suspicions, and even better, I had a gullible flatmate.
“Lee! They totally have pistachio ice cream tonight!” Lee had been bemoaning the lack of pistachio ice cream for the past several months. Given that one of the two ice cream options was inevitably vanilla, a third vat was an unheard-of cause for excitement. Lee promptly grabbed a bowl and dished himself up a delicious bowl of wasabi.
I surprisingly faced no reprisal from my trick and Lee learned a bit of a lesson about eating unlabeled food.
I was a cook in a high-end seafood restaurant in Asheville, NC, which has a very open kitchen. We were right there where customers could watch us work.
We had one customer that was a semi-regular and usually drank quite a bit. So one night, he’s seated by himself in a booth right across from the kitchen area with a seafood plate. This particular night, he was beyond inebriated, so we were chuckling a bit to ourselves and wondering what he might do.
He managed to get through the seafood just fine, but I was working on a customer’s food when I looked over at him, and he started eating his ear of corn. Now, I have certainly eaten corn on the cob before, but this guy is, well let’s just say the corn looked like it was having a VERY good time. I told my fellow cooks to check it out, and when they looked up, we all lost it. The entire kitchen crew started laughing so hard we all ended up on the floor laughing, tears running down our faces. To the patrons, it looked like the entire staff had disappeared.
It effectively shut down operations for five minutes while we recovered from seeing a man blow an ear of corn.
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.