Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we’re bringing you some of the most inexplicably WTF stories in restaurant history. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
A couple weeks ago, as a treat for myself on an awful day, I stopped by my local Culver’s for a chocolate cement mixer. If you’re not familiar (and I wasn’t either until recently), a cement mixer is a mega thick, frozen custard shake. The idea being they’re so thick you can only churn them with a cement mixer, or something, and they’re too thick to eat with a straw, like Culver’s regular shakes. Basically, it’s a hop and a skip from ice cream in a cup. I’m clarifying for a reason, so bear with me.
Anyway, I decided to order via the drive-thru, just the chocolate cement mixer, and pulled forward after they gave me my total. Almost immediately, I realized I forgot to ask for whipped cream, but hoped that would be alright to add last minute. How wrong I was.
When I reached the window and the server was ready, I asked, “Hey, sorry, can I get whipped cream on that?”
The guy replies, nodding and upbeat, “OK, are you sure you don’t want a shake, though?”
“Huh? No, just the chocolate cement mixer with whipped cream.” Thinking that was it, I grabbed some money to give him.
“I could make you a shake, it would only take a second.”
“No… I just want a cement mixer, with the whipped cream on top?” Did he think I wanted the whipped cream to thin out the cement mixer? By now I was literally holding out money to him that he wouldn’t take.
“Yeah, but if you want a shake, we can replace this no charge.” My dessert was in his hand and he was not giving it to me. This was less infuriating and just bizarre. This whole time he’s maintaining a nice, chipper, customer-service demeanor that is unfazed by my responses or SEVERE confusion over this whole exchange.
“I… CAN I get whipped cream on it?”
“Yes, but this is a cement mixer.”
“It’s very thick and you have to eat it with a spoon, you can’t eat it with a straw.”
“So if you want I can replace this with a shake.” BUT WHY.
“I just want the chocolate cement mixer with whipped cream.”
“OK… your total is $4.39.” He finally takes the money I’ve been holding out and, after suppressing a look of mild concern and applying the whipped cream, hands me my cement mixer.
I still have NO idea what was going on.
Things I have seen as a bartender in New Orleans:
– A regular who offered to pay his tab with half of a deer. I asked “which half, and did you find it in the road?” and declined without knowing its provenance.
– A customer walking out the door with the industrial/decorative jar of olives.
– A customer who lied to my boss, saying I had pocketed the $2 for his beer, because I refused to show him my breasts.
Recently, we went to visit my in-laws. It’s a seven hour drive, and we left at noon and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner on the road, thinking we’d be good for the night. When we were an hour from our final stop, we all decided we were hungry, so my husband called his parents and said we’d take them up on their offer of a pizza after all. For the sake of ease, we said, “Just cheese,” when asked what we wanted on it. The pizza had arrived shortly after we did, and we sat down to dig in.
It looked wrong. It tasted weird. The cheese was floating, almost in curds, in a puddle of grease.
That’s when my son piped up, “There’s no sauce on this. Why isn’t there any sauce?”
My father-in-law had repeated our order exactly: “Just cheese.” And when the poor guy on the phone had asked, incredulously, “JUST cheese?” My father-in-law immediately went into pompous mode and said, “Yes, just cheese.” (The ‘you idiot,’ was implied in his tone.)
So that was what we got: sub-par cheese on soggy crust.
For the past three years, I have worked in a pub based in the city centre of a medium-sized UK city. For some reason, we seem to be a beacon for the strange, the odd, and the completely crazy.
My personal favourite, though, was the stripping old lady. My first encounter with her happened one reasonably busy Saturday afternoon. The bar was full of regular customers — who mainly consist of older men who come for the real ale and a few younger men who come in for the rock music — when an older lady (late 60s-early 70s) came in dressed in a floral mid-length skirt and twinset. She approached the bar, ordered a cider, and then sat down at a table a few feet away.
My coworker and I carried on serving, filling fridges, and doing other general everyday stuff, when I heard a few of the regulars burst into a fit of giggles. This woman had stood up, taken her top and bra off, and was approaching the bar. I struggled to keep a straight face when fronted with the site of a pensioner, complete with a grandma-style perm, headed towards me, her pendulum-like breasts swinging as she walked. As I was the only server who wasn’t already serving another customer, Lady Godiva made a beeline for me and started asking me about the variety of sandwiches we served in a thick Welsh accent, completely oblivious to the stifled giggling of the regulars and howls of laughter from a group of men on a stag do. I looked at my coworker (a lovely middle-aged woman who has worked there for longer than I’ve been alive), who told her that we wouldn’t be serving her until she dressed and demanding the lady put her top back on. Stripping old lady seemed displeased, but complied.
At this point, my manager came out of the back and we told him told what happened. In theory, we should have probably told the old lady to leave, but we all felt a bit sorry for her and she hadn’t been unpleasant. Coworker finished her shift, and the old lady again approached the bar and began complaining to me and the manager about how unreasonable my coworker had been, how she didn’t understand why she couldn’t take her clothes off, and how my coworker was obviously jealous. We both nodded a few times and said something about company policy requiring shirts be worn.
Then she left, only to come back a few hours later. She walked to the far side of the bar, chose a few songs on the jukebox, and sat down at the same table she had previously. A few minutes later, I looked up in time to see her waving her bra around in a sexual manner to the tune of “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Motley Crue as if she were one of the 18 year old models in the video. We quickly asked her to put her top back on and to leave the premises as soon as she had finished her drinks, which, to her credit, she did without trouble.
She came back in a few days later and couldn’t for the life of her understand why the manager refused to serve her drinks.
I was working as a waitress at an Italian chain restaurant. My then-boyfriend (now-husband) was tending bar. It was relatively early in the shift, like 5:30, and he only had one couple at the bar. They had ordered a bottle of red wine, and my husband had poured them a glass each in large red wine glasses.
I happened to be standing at the hostess stand checking the seating chart when the woman turned over to the man as he was taking a sip of wine and smashed her palm against the base of his glass, smashing the glass and breaking it on his face. He jumped up and she took off running out the side door. It was completely out of the blue; according to my husband they hadn’t been fighting or anything. The police came and the guy filed a report. He walked out on the bill, but left his credit card on his tab, so at least we got paid.
To this day, I wonder what happened.
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.