Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. Today, we bring you some of the most ridiculous customer stories we've yet received. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
There is a local breakfast joint not far from my house. Typical family run diner: mediocre coffee, standard omelet and egg offerings, great hash browns...you know the sort of place. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays were their busiest times. We were regulars, and knew most of the staff by name.
We were waiting for our food during a particularly busy Sunday afternoon, and our waitress Marci was hustling over with our order. She tripped on...something, and my husband's poached eggs and hash lands on the head and shoulder of another customer. Marci is horrified and starts apologizing immediately and cleaning the woman off. The victim, however, never acknowledges that she now has runny eggs, hash, and gooey cheese sauce running down her head, neck and shoulders. She and her entire table never stopped eating. They just kept shoveling in food. The waitress stopped cleaning off the woman and kind of stepped back from her to see WTF was going on.
It was really strange, like she was a robot programmed to eat, and she had no program for what to do when someone spills a huge hot plate of food on you. I watched yolk drip off of her nose and she never even wiped her face with the napkin. They kept eating, paid and left, putting on hats and coats over eggy mess like nothing had happened. We got our food for free.
fungibleyeti82 -> C.A. Pinkham
Yesterday 32:45 AM
"Actually, this woman and her whole family probably suffer from Mitchum-Humpsterfumper Disease, whereby a person is completely unable to process or rationalize the existence of eggs or egg byproducts, therefore I find this post offensive and you should remove this story.")
When I was about 15 years old, I was a really big stoner. One night, when I was hanging out with my friends, who were all stoned as well, we decided to go to a McDonald's to grab some food.
I was the last to order, and all my friends were already sitting at the table. I began my huge order (fries, many burgers, etc), but then suddenly could not remember what the apple pies were called. Like I could not remember the words "apple pie." For anyone who has not experienced the McDonald's apple pies, they are rectangular shaped and come in little cardboard boxes.
Instead of giving up on ordering the pies, I decided to try to describe them until the person at the counter knew what I was talking about. I rambled on for a few minutes, I don't remember the whole thing but I remember saying "those little rectangle things", talking a lot about how they came in boxes, and then sort of whispering "I heard they don't actually use apples in them, and that they actually use potatoes." At this point all my friends were staring at me from the table, looking horrified. The woman at the register looked at me like I was insane, and responded (understandably) with "WHAT?"
Then, I ran to the table of my friends, wildly tried to describe the "little rectangle apple things" to figure out the name. When they told me, I ran back to the register, finished my order, and afterwards thoroughly enjoyed my little apple rectangle possibly potato things. I don't think I ever went back to that McDonald's again.
(Editor's Note: No judgment, Amy is kind of my hero right now)
My favorite (more recent) incident happened when I was attempting to train a new server. She had been shadowing me, doing a wonderful job at being attentive and confident, so I sent her to a kind looking couple who had just been seated. The trainee is smiling and friendly as she speaks with the couple and I see them asking her a couple questions. She comes over to me, undoubtedly with some menu questions to which she might not have known the answer. I was not quite prepared for the question the couple had asked her.
She inquires, "So, this couple wants to know if they can pay to eat their own food here. They said they have many food allergies and bring their own food out but are more than willing to pay for a plate so they can eat it here. Is this something we do here?"
I was completely stunned. What? Why? I told her to let them know that unfortunately we do not allow outside food in our restaurant and we are unable to do that, but to suggest some beverages or perhaps some other dessert items on the menu.
After she broke the news to the couple, they got up angrily and headed my way, since they saw that my trainee had checked in with me. The wife was furious. "This is the only place we liked to go in town. I feel sorry for your business that you conduct yourselves this way."
Still completely baffled, I tried to kindly explain, "I apologize, but we do have some shop policies regarding outside food and drink, and in fact this policy is actually printed on the door to avoid confusion."
The wife continued with her odd argument, "It just seems so stupid that you would risk your business success over things like this."
To which I asked, "I'm sorry, but why did you choose to come here?" The couple finally left in a huff. Honestly…what the fuck?!
I used to work as a hostess for popular California restaurant chain (known for their pizza!), there was a family who often came for lunch along with their old grandma. I always try not to judge people based on their makeup, but this woman would legitimately line her entire eyes with dark black, under the skin bags and everything. Most of the time she looked like a confused elderly panda, but one day a server accidentally spilled a glass of water in her lap and she stood up and started cursing the server in tongues — I swear she looked like an enraged demon from a Miyazaki film, hair swirls, red eyes, and everything.
The server had a breakdown in the back and had to be sent home because she couldn't stop crying.
I work at a bar in NYC and the weekends are always packed and crazy, pretty much without fail. My co-workers and I have seen our fair share of insane drunk people, as it's kind of par for the course, but there is one insane drunk person who stands out among the rest. We call her Nightmare Phone Girl and she is the stuff of legends.
It started out kind of innocuously, actually. This girl, maybe early to mid-twenties, was sitting at the bar when she realized her phone was gone. She starts asking the people sitting around if they'd seen it, but no one had. She then starts to get a little more frantic and starts kind of harassing the bartenders about it. They were of course pretty nice and professional towards her, but it's Friday night and the bar is packed and they really just don't have the time to drop everything and look for her phone.
Eventually she gets so upset about it that our manager is called over. At this point, she's kind of getting hysterical and has flipped from "Oh hey, I think I misplaced my phone" to "SOMEONE STOLE MY FUCKING PHONE AND EVERYONE HERE IS RESPONSIBLE." She starts demanding to see our security footage to determine who the asshole is who stole her phone and will not relent. Our manager tries to explain that it would actually take a really long time for him to go back through the footage and honestly the way our cameras are set up it's actually fairly unlikely you would even be able to see the "crime" taking place based on where she was sitting.
This girl refused to see reason and has now crossed over from panicked rage to just full blown hysteria. Like sobbing and shrieking like a banshee about her lost phone. It took probably close to 40 minutes for my manager to talk her down and usher her out the door, explaining that we are not responsible for lost or stolen belongings and if she is really this upset maybe the best thing would be for her to call the police.
About 20 minutes go by and my manager decides to go outside for a smoke to relieve the stress of dealing with crazy drunk people. He steps outside the front door and what does he discover? Nightmare Phone Girl, right outside our front entrance, laying in a heap on the New York City sidewalk and just fucking sobbing uncontrollably.
He quickly brings her back inside (turns out girls draped outside your establishment crying is really bad for business) and tries to calm her down. Our manager's girlfriend had thankfully shown up to hang out at the bar a few minutes prior and he kind of foisted the Nightmare onto his girlfriend to comfort while he tried to figure out what to do. All the while Nightmare Phone Girl is wailing about her lost phone and how the bar is responsible in an unending stream of tears and distress. She never really stops crying but my manager (who is obviously a saint) eventually calms her down enough to walk her back outside, hail her a cab, put her in said cab, and pay for it.
At this point it's pretty much the end of the night. We do last call, kick out all the stragglers and finally we're officially closed. Some of the staff is performing closing duties, and the rest of us are just sitting around drinking and enjoying the calm. Suddenly, and without warning, Nightmare Phone Girl bursts in yelling and crying about her damn phone! We discovered that although we had previously locked the door, the busboys had let in one of his friends after-hours to drink with the staff and the door hadn't fully latched behind him. Apparently, Nightmare Phone Girl had gotten almost all the way home, realized she just couldn't live without her phone, jumped out of the cab while it was stopped at a red light and had run all the way back to the bar.
Our manager repeated the whole grueling process of dealing with her and eventually flags down and pays for another cab around 5 AM (SAINT).
The best part of this story is that the next day the opening staff, who had no clue that any of this had gone down the night before, was getting ready to open the bar when someone buzzed the back door where we get our deliveries. One of the servers ran down to open it, and there is this relaxed, normal-seeming girl asking if anyone turned in a phone. The server lets her in and says that they hadn't seen one, but it's possible someone put it in the safe the night before. Unfortunately our manager wasn't in yet and he had the keys to the safe, so she would have to wait a few minutes until he arrived. The girl says that she's fine with that.
Lo and behold, our manager walks in a few minutes later to begin a brand new day at work - and there she is. Nightmare Phone Girl. Sitting there. Waiting for him.
I only wish I could have been there just to witness the look of extreme horror that must have crossed his face.
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome!
Image via Vankad/Shutterstock. I get the sense I'm going to pay a heavy comment blood price for that first Editor's Note.