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 tales of fast food shenanigans. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
“On a recent trip, we stopped off for lunch at a McDonald’s that happened to be located near a high school. It was mid lunchtime, and the place was pretty well packed with kids from the local high school. As we were standing in line, we heard one of the kids in front of us order a “cheeseburger, no cheese, fries, and a coke” and then he and his buddies began to giggle at the humor of the order.
When it was our turn to be served, I asked the girl at the counter “did that kid just order a cheeseburger with no cheese?” She replied “yep…we get about a dozen of those dumb orders a day. They think it’s funny, but apparently they have yet to realize that they are being charged regular price for a cheeseburger, while not getting any cheese.”
For a while after college I worked for a national bookstore chain, which has cafés that feature Starbucks coffee. One of my staffers during this particular holiday season was a student, but not a local one. She had already completed her Masters degree, and was then completing her Doctorate in animal science in California. She was home for break, and had worked off/on at the store for a few years, most recently the previous summer. I was glad to have her back during the busy holiday season.
One of our regular customers was a woman whose preferred drink was a caramel machiatto, but only if she trusted the barista who was making it. I had long ago passed her test, but my other barista that night was unknown to this customer, so she ordered a white chocolate mocha instead. This woman was otherwise pretty generally agreeable, which made her exchange with my employee all the more shocking.
My employee made the customer her drink and was making a little casual chit-chat, as we weren’t super busy right that moment. I’m not sure what was being discussed, as I was doing some cleaning and restocking. However, I overheard the customer say “Well, I have my degree, which is why I’m on THIS side of the counter.”
It was one of those jaw-dropping moments. My employee and I were stunned. Who says that? [Editor’s Note: Uh…have you read OTM before? Quite a number of people.] My staffer regained her composure, however, and responded (a little icily) “I’ll keep that in mind when I get my doctorate next spring.”
The customer blushed and hurriedly left. She came back a couple of weeks later, and we never spoke of it.
My first job was at a Dairy Queen, and I was often tasked with working the drive-thru. One day, this happened:
Me: “Thank you for choosing Dairy Queen Grill & Chill. How may I help you?”
Customer: “Yes, hi. Do you have anything non-dairy?”
My mother, brother and I stopped by a Taco Bell in our medium-sized city hometown. I was a teenager at the time and my body still produced the enzyme required for digesting Taco Bell without resulting in stomach cramps and the runs, so the cheap and fast Taco Bell was a regular stop for us. It was slightly past prime dinner hour on a weekday, so the place was dead. Maybe one or two other tables were occupied. We placed our order and paid, and the cashier said it would be ready in a couple minutes, so we filled up our sodas and sat down at a table. After a few minutes, they hadn’t called our order at the counter, but we weren’t in a hurry, so we kept waiting.
After about 10 minutes, it seemed suspiciously long for Taco Bell so my mom approached the counter and asked one of the employees how much longer it would be for our food. The kid behind the counter said, “Oh, that order? We thought you left so we threw it away.”
We had been sitting in clear view of the counter/kitchen the entire time. Apparently the three of us had gone invisible for a short time.
It’s 2003, I’m working at Starbucks, and the great northeast blackout has just happened. Power is slowly being restored to the affected areas, but the coffee shop I work in has been out of power for close to 48 hours. Being late August and extremely warm during those few powerless days, naturally, all of the milk in the refrigerators has gone bad.
My store manager and I have to open the morning after power was finally restored, so we also have the pleasure of needing to discard of all the spoiled milk (which, as you can imagine, smelled really awesome).
About 10 minutes before we’re even supposed to open (6am), a guy starts banging very loudly at our front door. My manager, a fairly eager to please fella, decides to unlock the doors early but explains to the customer that all we had as far as drinks was coffee. Guy was like “OK, cool. I’ll take a venti latte.”
Again, my manager explains that we can only do DRIP COFFEE because all the milk was bad due to the power outage. Customer gestures behind the counter at the several yet-to-be-discarded gallons of milk by the sink and says “You got milk, just make me a latte with milk from one of those gallons.” Again, manager points out that the milk is bad (as evidenced by the rancid smell in the air), needs to be discarded for health and safety reasons, but he’d be happy to pour him a cup of coffee FREE OF CHARGE due to the inconvenience.
The customer becomes irate: “Listen you stupid fuck, I’ve gotta be in surgery in 10 minutes” (our shop was 1 block away from a huge hospital–how a doctor/surgeon didn’t understand the potential health risk of drinking spoiled milk is another matter) “so either you or your fuckin friend there get behind the counter and make me MY FUCKING LATTE!”
My manager calmly steps around the counter, opens up the remaining gallons of milk, pours them all down the drain while rude doctor guy watches, then says “We’re not open yet, and if you don’t get the fuck out of my store in 10 seconds, I’m calling the cops on your trespassing ass.” Rude doctor storms out, smacking the stir sticks off the counter and cussing us out on the way to the door.
Never saw rude doctor again, and gained a whole lot of respect for my manager that day.
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.