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.
It’s holiday time, and I’m in the cereal aisle to get stuff for Chex Mix. Naturally, a mother is standing in front of the Chex, watching her kid having a meltdown. “But I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaant them!” he sobs, over and over, in higher and higher registers. Ad nauseum, you’re familiar. The blast radius is too widespread for me to reach the cereal without risk of injury, so I have to witness the whole defusing.
He is lying on the ground, kicking his heels against the floor, thrashing his shoulders and clutching a box of cereal that I assume is too sugary.
But no, his prized possession is a box of Wheat Chex.
“That’s the only one you can’t have, you have so many other choices!” croons the mom, looking over her shoulder at me with an apology-face. Sure, I get it, you tell a kid he can’t have a thing and suddenly it’s the only worthwhile thing in the world. Makes perfect sense.
Love her, she picks him up, box and all, still kicking, and puts him on her hip and points to the big “Gluten Free” logo on each other type of Chex. “Look, you can have …Rice …or Corn …or Double Chex …ooooh …Apple Cinnamon …” eventually the tantrum fizzled and she put the crumpled box of Wheat Chex back while his head was turned.
She turns to me and I smile, completely reminded why breeding is not for me, and when she talks, I’m expecting something about the baby-doll-syndrome nature of kids. Nope. She rolls her eyes and huffs and says, “You know, they can make every other freaking kind of Chex Gluten-Free. It should not be that difficult to make Gluten-Free Wheat Chex. It is sooooooo frustrating. Ugh.”
I was waiting for my coffee at Starbucks in downtown DC when a few out of towners came in, likely from the hotel next door. One woman, clearly in a pissy mood, asked if they have regular tea. The barista went through the different Tazo flavors (this was a few years back), and she snapped “I want regular tea — don’t you have Lipton?” I helpfully explained that the “Awake” English Breakfast was comparable. She glared at the barista, as if it was his fault they didn’t keep shitty tea on hand, and left, complaining about how hard it was to find tea in DC.
I work at Smoothie King, which is basically a healthier Jamba Juice. One day I was working with the owner’s son and it was fairly busy. This frat bro comes in and orders a “regular strawberry smoothie.” OK, I say to him, we do not have regular, but is a small OK, pointing to the small cup (20oz). Just a regular strawberry smoothie, he repeats back to me, sounding like he is about to cry. I put it in as a small, since that’s what everyone wants when they say regular, and move on.
I’m making drinks when frat bro comes up to the counter. Please note that throughout the duration of the conversation, Frat Bro sounded more and more like we were torturing him and he was on the verge of tears.
Owner’s Son (OS): Did you have the small Strawberry X-Treme?
Frat Bro (FB): No! Regular strawberry smoothie… I just wanted a regular.
OS: Yes, that is the small Strawberry X-Treme. Your total is $4.33.
OS puts the drink down on the counter in front of him.
FB: I wanted a regular! Why isn’t that a regular…
OS: We don’t have a regular size, only small, medium, and large. What size did you want?
FB: Regular! I just wanted a regular! Regular!
OS: OK, so not a small?
FB: Regular! Just a regular! I want a regular!
OS: Regular does not exist. Show me which size you want.
FB: I want a regular! Gimme a regular! I said regular!
OS: Dude, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what you want. We don’t have regular, as we have told you multiple times, so calm down and show me which size you want.
OS walks over to the cups and FB points to the medium size, which is 32oz. I hear the pissy tone in my co-worker’s voice as he rings him out for the larger size. He looks at me and I nod. I take the drink to make it into a medium, just staring at this guy who I am waiting to just break down over a smoothie.
I don’t know how many times the guy cried out “regular,” but it became the joke for the rest of the day.
I used to work at a hybrid Spanish/Italian restaurant that served cafe fare, specializing in paninis and crostinis with unique combinations. Among some of the more “exotic” fare was a crostini topped with egg salad and two fresh white anchovies, also known as boquerones. A woman can in, hemmed and hawed over the menu while the manager rang her up. She settled on the egg and anchovy crostini. I had made my way to the back of the restaurant to organize before the lunch surge, when I suddenly hear this woman screaming at my manager at the top of her lungs: “THESE ARE NOT FUCKING ANCHOVIES! THESE ARE SARDINES! YOU THINK I’M STUPID? THEY’RE FUCKING SARDINES!”
After a futile attempt at explaining what boquerones were, my manager is at a loss for words at this woman berates him about the anchovies/sardines, continuing with, “DON’T YOU FUCKING TALK TO ME LIKE I’M AN IDIOT, NOW YOU’RE GONNA SEE MY NEW YORK ATTITUDE!”
She continues screaming incoherently, and eventually, he tells her she has to leave or he will call the police. She goes right outside the restaurant and hulks down on the bench we provide for customers to sit on. Five minutes go by, and she’s at the door of the restaurant again, holding up her cell phone with a Google image search of sardines, screaming, “SEE? SARDINES! YOU SHOULD KNOW THE FUCKING DIFFERENCE.”
I’ve never seen someone so upset about fish before.
I work at a high-end chain steakhouse in Los Angeles as both a waiter and a bartender. One night I had a four-top of businessy looking guys who brought in a nice bottle of wine (’99 opus one) while I was decanting it for them, they ordered cocktails as a first round. Two of them ordered nice single malt scotches, one a gin martini, and the third guy, obviously the amateur of the group, ordered a Bombay Sapphire and tonic. I got their drinks from the bar and brought them back to the table. I dropped off the scotches and the martini, and as I was reaching for the last drink on the tray, Captain Amateur abruptly said: “I hope that’s not my drink.” While looking at me like I was the world’s biggest asshole. “It is, sir,” I said, “sapphire and tonic, right?” He grimaced and said “Yes, that’s what I ordered, but that’s not Bombay Sapphire.”
A little shook by his tone, I told him that yes it was Sapphire and tonic, and maybe he should taste it before I concede and bring him a new one. In the most condescending tone imaginable, he refused to taste the drink and said to me “Bombay Sapphire is BLUE, this drink is clear!” Slightly dumbfounded, I said, “I’m sorry sir, but you’re mistaken, the bottle is blue but the spirit is colorless.” If I had been dumbfounded before, then there is no word to accurately describe what he was feeling at this point because he yelled back at me “WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT SPIRITS YOU WEIRDO, JUST BRING ME THE RIGHT DRINK.”
Then the best thing happened, and I’m lucky it did because I have no idea what my next move would have been if it didn’t. The other three guys at the table simultaneously erupted in laughter and started ragging on the guy for A) thinking sapphire is blue, B) not knowing that liquors are also known as spirits and C) being such an asshole. They shitted on him for the rest of the night and left me a great tip.
I still wonder if he thinks Grey Goose is gray, and that cordials are always nice.
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.