Just Stay Home

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 10/3/2013

For the sake of humanity, some adult humans should not be allowed out, period.  If they were allowed out, on a limited basis, their “house arrest” should preclude them from interacting with anyone who serves the public. They just don’t get it.

I received these pictures from an employee at a restaurant that is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in America. (It’s in the Southeast.) I’ve confirmed the employment of the sender, and the restaurant, but agreed not to disclose the identity of either. The pictures represent both sides of a card handed to a server by a guest last weekend, during a very busy dinner service. Side 1:

It’s one thing to ask for a few modifications, but really? If you want to pick and choose exactly what you want, go to a buffet, or go to a supermarket. Side 2:

No, this was not a joke. This diner actually sent a note to the kitchen requesting that they default to his dietary philosophies!! I can hear the kitchen crew now, “Hold everything. We’re going Forks Over Knives for table 32…”

The restaurant took the hospitality high road, and served the persnickety patron a vegan entre of local produce. (I’ve requested information from the server about the interaction with the guest and his dining companions, and how they tipped.) I do know that the demanding douchebag did not thank the chefs in the open kitchen for accommodating him.

The perky, Thanks for working with me!” does not offset how obnoxious this note is. The entitlement epidemic is alive and well. I’m surprised the diner didn’t specify ideal lighting luminosity, room temperature & humidity, and hand the maître d’ a playlist…

Love to hear your reaction, and your stories in the comments.


19 Responses to “Just Stay Home”

  1. Holly says:

    I’ve been given notes like this. My favorite was for a cocktail. A friend was handed a note the other night with very specific instructions on how to make 6 different “cocktails”, one of which was a “Maker’s Mark Martini” using only a small amount of vermouth, with a twist AND an olive (on the side, of course) and ONLY STIRRED TWICE. asshole.

    And I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t “like” garlic. You’re not human. Stay home.

  2. Big Louie says:

    In a fine dining restaurant, this note would be perfectly acceptable — with a $100 bill attached.

    Where does this person get off?! If I were his dining companion, I’d be absolutely mortified. I’d probably walk out. Shame on the folks who dined with him.

    If it wasn’t a five-year jail sentence assault I’d smack this guy in his face.

  3. susan says:

    Seriously? I would have refused service. “Obviously you have a very restricted diet. Perhaps you should refrain from eating out. Can I get you a glass of water?” People are so rude with their entitlement. Like the lady who would bring gluten free pasta to my Italian restaurant and want me to cook it for her – and have it out to the table with the rest of the order. Had to explain we precook our pasta and there aren’t enough burners on the stove to give one up for your lone pot of pasta. Stupid people.

  4. @newaitress says:

    This is horrifying to me, and I’m a vegan.

    As a vegan, my best option is dining at a vegan restaurant. (S/o to “True Bistro” in Somerville). My second best option is dining at places whose cuisines lend themselves to my needs, along the lines of a cucumber roll at a sushi restaurant. My third option if I’m in a situation where I’m somehow forced or expected to eat at a mainstream place is to order a salad or baked potato, and maybe some reliably vegan side item like steamed broccoli and STFU. Seriously….order what you need with a minimum of fuss and keep quiet. Nobody is interested in your philosophy or preferences.

  5. John says:

    Holly, I’ve gotten the exact same card!! I politely told the woman what I tell frustrated young children: “use your words please”

  6. Frederic says:

    I have a friend with a significant list of restrictions due to the onset of a medical conditions. When she has gone out, someone in the party has the decency to contact the restaurant well in advance so that they can prep for the event.

    Showing up in a middle of a busy shift and dropping this major request is amusing. It is requiring a great deal of respect without giving any.

  7. Carolyn says:

    Yes, okay, this is a little too demanding. Accommodating allergies is one thing, but being told to leave out ingredients just because he doesn’t like them? Someone’s mom raised a very picky eater.

    That said, please be careful with the whole “If you can’t eat it, stay home” thing.

    I have severe lockjaw, which means I can’t eat solid foods; only liquids through a straw. When I eat out (which is rare), I contact the restaurant ahead of time to make sure they’re able to throw something in the blender for me. Nine times out of ten, they’re extremely kind and accommodating.

    Yes, it’s extra work for the kitchen; I realize that. And I’m not tasting the dish the way it was intended. But that couple of hours of sitting in a nice restaurant, feeling almost like a normal person, is a huge boost to my emotional state.

    Just a reminder that some diners with physical issues may occasionally challenge the kitchen. Please have some empathy when we do.

  8. Andrea says:

    Ok, so I have Celiac and eat out all the time, and have with my gluten allergy since I was diagnosed over 10 years ago (lots of changes over that time). When I make a reservation, I let them know of my celiac, if someone else does, I review the menu prior to going to scout out what I can eat or what might be manipulated to work for me. If a restaurant is super busy, my friends yell at me because I won’t ask for accommodations and just get something simple so as not to disturb the kitchen (really they work hard enough as it is and who can’t use a salad or a good burger without a bun?). I’ve found that when you’re gracious, polite and appreciative, people will do what they can to help, but when you’re an asshole like this customer, people bash all of us with legit allergies.

    Lesson of the day, just don’t be an asshole.

    My dad used to say that all people should be forced to work a year in retail and a year in a restaurant and then this world would be a much nicer place.

  9. Absolutely, Carolyn. Common courtesy and mutual respect are two-way streets.

  10. Cappy says:

    Nearly every restaurant has their menu online these days. If this person has OCD, allergies, social anxiety or whatever, it’s on THEM to make a call before going, check out the menu and see if this place can accommodate them BEFORE showing up there with a printed card. It’s selfish no matter how you look at it. The world shouldn’t have to bend to the will of these fruitcakes. They have the problem. They should have to learn how to live in OUR world not vice versa. Everyone on here with an issue has said they would call first. That is what sets them apart from a self entitled asshole who really should have just stayed home.

  11. LS says:

    “In “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis describes delicacy as a desire to have things exactly our way. He gives the example of food having to be prepared just right, or in just the right amount, but it isn’t limited to food. We might complain about unimportant defects in a product, the temperature in the room, or the color of a laundry basket. There is a certain amount of discomfort to be expected in life, but the Glutton will have none of it. Instead of becoming strong by suffering the minor inconveniences of life, the Glutton insists on being pampered. No one dares to point out how petty or foolish they are. In fact, some celebrities are praised for their excessive perfectionism, as though it were a virtue.”

  12. 50 says:

    I had my own sandwich shop for a few years and remember this one d*bag coming in and screaming at me because there were onions in the chicken and tuna salad. AND HE HATES ONIONS!! Go elsewhere dude. Finally talked him into a ham and cheese. This poor excuse for a human needs to stay home. I saw a woman on “The Chew” a few weeks ago with same attitude and the audience wanted to strangle her. Her excuse was “I’m paying for it, so they should make it the way I want it.”

  13. Joe Ricchio says:

    The “thanks for working with me” is more of a “fuck you and please enjoy the taste of my shit” than anything else. Allergies are one thing, but a list of “dislikes?” What are you, three years old? Do you want us to cut the crust off of your PB&J like your parents that clearly spoiled the living shit out of you used to do?

  14. Laura M. says:

    This used to happen quite often at the restaurant I managed. Usually during either the lunch rush, or the evening rush. The people that do this never cooked anything for themselves EVER. They probably don’t know how to even toast bread. I remember the chefs getting upset at the servers for coming in with these ridiculous requests. I also remember the owners fawning over tables like this if for any reason it took too long, or they didn’t like what was served and then coming over to myself, the server and the kitchen staff and pretty much telling us we did not satisfy the guest and that our mission is to make the guest happy at all costs (this of course also meant we not only had to get that person’s food out ASAP, but also maintain steady food flow for all the other guests eating off the “regular” menu). It’s like they did not realize that when you have to make something completely off the menu and new for guests like this it takes time, especially at a fine dining restaurant where we made everything fresh. People like this also loved coming in during special menus, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and the dreaded Restaurant week…some of the busiest service times of the year. I’m sorry, but if you are so “allergic” to something, or in this case many things…or hate so many foods…maybe you should learn to cook for yourself, or jump off a bridge. These so called “guests” were always the ones that tipped shitty and still complained after we bent backwards and forwards for them. Usually via an email…where we would then send them an apology letter with a gift certificate to “try us again”….or on Yelp…where everyone is a f%^cking food critic and knows everything. Seriously…I am amazed I did not cut my wrists open a long time ago after working certain shifts. I am so grateful I do not work in the business anymore. It’s nice to actually enjoy the holidays and not have to suck up and be “fake” happy every day.

  15. Crazy! says:

    I can’t imagine being that entitled. I am flat out allergic to some proteins (beef, buffalo, deer, elk). My wife, while not allergic, is unable to break down certain foods due to a lack of specific enzyme, and if she eats these foods it will kill her. Not instantly like anaphylaxis but dead just the same. We don’t bother to explain that, just saying allergic works and simplifies it and gives the same protection.

    We don’t give lists of what can and can’t be done. That’s because we order food that we know we can eat with a minimum of fuss. I simply ask if something is cooked in a pan prior to serving, that a clean pan be used, and if food is grilled that a clean spatula/tongs/whatever is used to lower cross contamination. My wife just asks for her food made without what can kill her, if her food can be modified that way. If, say, there’s a dish made with a side of fresh peas cooked with a bunch of things, we ask if plain peas can be used or if there’s any plain veg that can be cooked that’s easy for the kitchen to do, and we tell them that cooking them plain in water is fine. We don’t ask or insist on having them cooked fancy, just whatever is most convenient. If there’s not, she just goes without and enjoys her meat and potatoes. Heck, we often will pick plates that have half of what we can eat, and the other half the other person will happily eat, and we share the plates like that at the table. It’s easy for us, and super easy for the kitchen, and it’s a low stress way for us to enjoy a meal. We just ask for the stuff I can eat from her plate be served on a separate plate. We don’t go out with the intention of doing this, but if the food choices fall into place like that we’ll take the luck that we got for that meal.

    That’s how life is and that’s how life should be dealt with, not a list of demands you make of others.

  16. Jo says:

    My mom also has severe dietary issues, like the above poster (I wonder if its the same enzyme?) For about three years after she started getting sick and had to drastically change her diet, we simply did not go out. We assumed restaurants wouldn’t be able to accommodate her. Finally we found a restaurant that was featured in the local news for accommodating allergies, and we tried it. We were so grateful to have the opportunity to go out to eat.

  17. Michael Robertson says:

    I work in a very busy place and we try to accommodate people to the best of our abilities. I would have shown the guest our menu, which has most of the ingredients listed, then our allergen menu, and then informed them that we will do whatever is possible to meet their requirements but it might take some time to fulfill this request. We never really know the reasons people want food a certain way and if we can do it, we will. We have a gentleman who has been coming to the restaurant in our hotel for over 50 years and his dietary requirements have changed dramatically over that time. We have keys on our POS for his different meals. If you can deal with these requests in an open and gracious way, sometimes you make someone very happy and that’s why I do this job.

  18. Lin says:

    I’m a vegetarian and have some stomach issues as well with certain foods, but I find this shocking and appalling. I order something off the menu that doesn’t have any ingredients I don’t like/can’t eat, or has say one ingredient that I don’t like/can’t eat and request it to be left off. I also inform the server that I’m a vegetarian if I’m requesting an entree that has meat and I want everything BUT the meat (usually ask for the meat to come to-go since I’m paying for it still).

    But I am bothered by the comment that someone made saying “use your words.” There are many disabilities that affect the way people speak, in which case they hand cards instead. I have a friend with MS who has to do this. I’ve talked to people with autism who use cards to communicate in public. The individual handing you a card may be deaf. The requests on this card are ridiculous, but using a card to communicate is not.

  19. Lilly says:

    I would have placed a plate of plain cooked rice in front of him, and I would have said, “Bon appetit.”

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