One time (not at band camp) this kinda skanky family of three came in. The mom and dad looked like your average trailer dwelling wrestling fans and the twenty something daughter had long, unkempt blond and brown and red hair. Not streaks of blond and brown and red mind you–it looked like a big wooly batch of Neapolitan ice cream hair.
When we were going over the menu, they said this was their first time. At first I thought they meant this was their first time at this particular restaurant but it didn’t take me long to conclude that perhaps this was their first time eating at any restaurant. In fact, I would venture to guess that this was the first time in a long time that they had sallied forth from their manufactured home community for anything other than a pack of Marlboro lights, crystal meth, or to cash their government tit check. I was wrong, but hey everybody makes mistakes.
They all ordered a popular chicken dish that everyone likes and they enjoyed it and everybody was all smiles up until the point they started to get full. That’s when the dad flagged me down from the other side of the dining room with angry hand motions that ended with him pointing his finger down to the table in much the same way one would beckon a naughty dog who had just pooped on the couch cushion and needed to have his nose rubbed in it.
Since everything had been going so eerily well up to this point and we were such good friends so far I dreaded finding out what had changed. I walked to the table at not-quite-maximum speed and smiled and politely asked ‘Hey, what’s up?’
They pushed the daughter’s plate towards the end of the table and the dad asked ‘Do you SEE that?’
I couldn’t and said that I was sorry but I couldn’t see what they were talking about in the dim light.
‘PUT OUT YER HAND!’
Normally I wouldn’t but I did just out of curiosity. In it, he placed a long hair.
‘It’s a HAIR! That’s so G R O S S ! ! !’ shouted the daughter, Chewbecca.
‘Very sorry about that’ I said and used a standard recovery line of mine ‘Well at least you know it’s not mine.’ (there’s a pic of me on this blog somewhere–you’ll get it) Then I excused myself and told them to let me see what I could do.
I got to the back and looked at it under the light. My first thought was that since a customer found a hair in their food we would have to comp something in order for them to leave happy, which is standard operating in most restaurants. Then I took a closer look at it. It was a long strand of–you guessed it–bleach blond, trashy red, and dirt brown hair. I got to looking around in the BOH and thinking about it. Not one person on our kitchen staff had hair like that. The only blond chick in the FOH didn’t have hair that long or that frizzy. None of our suppliers or vendors had hair like that. It could have come from only one source: Chewbecca.
I suspected I probably wasn’t going to get a tip anyway. According to this table we had committed the inexcusable offense of serving food in which a nasty/disgusting/GROSS/horrifying/dirty hair had found its way onto,and clearly that was my fault. I mean how can people serve food when there’s so much nasty HAIR around? Gross.
What they expected me to say when I got back to the table was this: ‘We are all so truly sorry for serving you food with a dirty, disgusting filthy follicle of hair in it. Of course your dinner is on us tonight. Please forgive us for this vile sin and don’t tell anyone else at the ‘park about our cleanliness issues. In fact, here’s some gift cards for when you come back again.’
All my life I’ve been told that honesty is the best policy. Despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary I decided to try it anyway. What I actually said to them was this:
‘I’ve got some great news! You don’t have to worry any more. I went back there and looked at it in the light and I am 99.99% sure that that was your hair you handed me. I would have to do a DNA test to be 110% sure, but it looks like one of yours just fell onto your plate or something. I checked and nobody here-not the cooks, not the servers, not the hostesses, not the foodrunners, not the bussers, not even the vendors that bring us food-has hair like this. So you are safe and you don’t have to be grossed out. Everything is okay. Is there anything else I can get for you?’
No, we didn’t comp anything. Yeah, I got stiffed. But that’s three fewer people out there that will be less likely to pull the hair trick. And if they are the kind of people who will complain to everybody they know about how ‘mistreated’ they were then that’s just that many people more that will reconsider trying to pull a fast one in a restaurant.
Dignity and Respect
Me, The JerBear