How To Cheese Off Your Customers

, , , , , , | Working | March 23, 2018

(I am allergic to milk. When I go out to restaurants, I am always careful to specify to servers that my allergy means no milk, butter, cream, yogurt, or cheese, especially when I am abroad. My friend and I are out together, and we have both ordered food. I was extra careful to ask for no cheese or sauce on my burger, and to double-check that there is no milk in the bun. Our food comes out.)

Server: “And here we go! A burger for her, and pasta for you! Enjoy, ladies!”

Friend: “Thanks!” *to me* “Looks great, doesn’t it?”

Me: “Yeah! Oh… Hang on. I think they forgot to not put sauce on my burger. It should be okay if it’s just a relish, though.”

Friend: “Double-check, just in case! But it should be fine.”

Me: *deconstructing my burger with my fork* “Oh… So, not only is there lots of sauce on my burger, but there’s cheese… and… What is that?”

Friend: “It looks like they buttered the bun for some reason. You’d better send that back!”

Me: “Yeah.”

(I call the server back over.)

Server: “Is everything okay, ladies?”

Me: “Unfortunately, there seems to be cheese and possibly butter on my burger. I’m allergic, so I really can’t eat that. I’m so sorry, but is there any way I can get a new burger, please? Without the cheese or the butter on the bun, and with the sauce on the side, please?”

Server: “Oh! Wow! I’m so sorry; that shouldn’t have happened! I must have forgotten to put in an allergy warning on the till. Let me fix this for you right away!”

(He goes off to the kitchen and comes back after a while with a new plate.)

Server: “Again, I am so sorry that happened! Here you go. I spoke to the chef this time, so it should be all right. The sauce is on the side this time!”

Me: “Thank you! I’m so sorry to cause a fuss!”

Friend: *just as the server leaves* “Erm… I think I can see where they scraped off the cheese?”

Me: “What?” *deconstructs the new burger again* “Seriously? I think they just replaced the bun… and it still looks buttered. Maybe it’s margarine. Does this look right to you? I really don’t want to cause a fuss again.”

Friend: *pointing* “That’s definitely cheese still left on it! Don’t eat it! I’ll call our server back again.”

Server: “Ladies! What’s up? Is the new burger okay?”

Friend: “So, there still seems to be butter on her burger and–” *pointing* “–it looks like the cheese has just been scraped off here.”

Server: “What? I really did talk to the chef this time! Gosh, I am so sorry! I’ll see to it right away!” *takes the second plate back*

(While the server is away, my friend finishes her food. We also have timed tickets for a tourist attraction; though it’s nearby, we will need to leave the restaurant soon. We’re debating whether to get the burger in a to-go container when a lady marches up to our table.)

Manager: “Hi, girls. I’m the manager here. I heard there’s a problem with your food?”

Me: “Oh, there’s no problem; there’s just a mix up with my burger.”

Friend: “Yeah, we’re just waiting for her meal to come out again.”

Manager: “Right… The chef is saying you keep sending back perfectly good food. Is that right?”

Me: *taken aback* “What? No! I’m allergic to milk, and I asked for no cheese on my burger. My food keeps arriving with cheese on it, so I’ve just asked for a plain burger this time.”

Manager: “Right. I can’t see the problem here. Why can’t you just scrape it off?”

Friend: *worried* “She has an allergy! If she eats anything with milk in it, she will get seriously sick! Like, phone-an-ambulance sick!”

Manager: *haughtily* “I know what an allergy is! My husband is lactose intolerant! He can eat cheese, or scrape it off if he has to!”

Me: *trying to be calm* “An intolerance is different. Trust me; I don’t like sending food back, but I genuinely can’t eat it.”

Manager: “Hmm… You both seem very young… It looks to me like you’re just looking for a free meal.”

Friend: *raising her voice in frustration* “Honestly, we aren’t looking for anything! She just wanted something to eat, but she has to be careful because she has an allergy. We can’t explain it any better than that. She has not touched one ounce of her food! You can’t charge us for something she hasn’t eaten!”

Manager: “Well, I don’t comp meals when customers don’t communicate properly!”

Me: *jumping in quickly* “Look: it’s fine! I don’t want the food anymore. We have to leave soon, anyway. Can we just have our bill please?”

Manager: *changing her tune suddenly* “Of course! I’ll have your server bring it over immediately.” *hurries off, looking smug*

(Our server reappears with our bill soon after that.)

Server: “I am so sorry about the manager. She’s new. She told me not to comp your meal, but I’ve taken the burger and drinks off!”

Me: “I hope you won’t get in trouble for that.”

Server: “Nah, I’m one of the few experienced staff left! But, at this rate, I won’t be here for long!”

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