Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. This week, we've got stories about the horrible goings-on in restaurant bathrooms — always a font of the darkest expressions of the human soul. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
Kinja user RedWriter:
"This happened when I was 17:
It was about closing time and I was a busser. My manager told me as long as there weren't any tables left and the customer bathrooms were stocked and cleaned, I could bounce. The only table in the restaurant was a couple sitting in the lounge, notoriously known throughout the staff because of their circumstances; they were cheating on their partners with each other. Meeting at my job was their thing. They always sat on the same side of the table, unscrewed the light bulb and would make out.
So I checked the woman's bathroom, then came out and noticed the couple had left. After getting the affirmation from the bartender that they paid and left, I cleaned up off their table and went to restock the men's bathroom. Right in the handicap stall was the couple having sex. Quite loudly.
I scurried out of there and went straight to the kitchen to tell my manager what I had, uh...seen. I didn't get a chance, though; the bartender saw me running out and about thirty seconds later, the couple rushed out and she put two and two together. She came into the kitchen, laughing hysterically, and explained to our manager for me."
"I work as a manager at a fast food place. It was about 10 PM, so my staff and I were doing all of our nightly cleaning. A miserable-looking woman walks in with a small child. After placing her order, the woman proceeded to complain about the prices for five full minutes. After kindly telling her multiple times that I understand her frustration but all I can do is voice her concerns to my supervisor, she proceeded to unveil twenty dollars out of her purse...in DIMES.
She glared at me the entire time I counted the $20, saying that I should trust my customers and what they tell me. After finishing the counting, I discovered that the $20 was actually almost $4 short. She angrily removed items from her order until she could afford it, and finally took a seat and ate while her son climbed around the entire dining area.
About a half hour later, this woman is screaming in the lobby that her son is covered in pee! Obviously concerned, I walk up front to see the issue and see her young child SOAKED. She tells me that the drain in the men's room overflowed and her child was "rolling around in some strange man's pee." At this point, I had a lot of questions. Why did she let her four year old go into a men's room by himself at 10:30 p.m.? Is he even tall enough to reach the urinal? Why the HELL is this kid rolling around on the floor in a public men's room? I also realized that my boss had told me that it would practically take an elephant to clog the drains in these industrial drains. Why now? It took all the restraint in my body to keep those questions to myself and profusely apologize to this angry screaming woman during which she repeatedly called me every name she could think of (not surprisingly it was not many). After about 15 minutes of the verbal onslaught, I decided that I was done. I had given her names and phone numbers to my general manager, supervisor, AND customer service, cleaned the bathroom, and offered to refund her money. She would have nothing to do with it. She really just wanted to scream and berate me.
When she was finally done and ready to take her kid home, I hear, very faintly, "Mommy, it was ME who peed on the floor." I turned around quickly to see this woman in PURE shock, staring at me, mouth agape. As the realization of how horrendously she treated me sank in, the look on her face was like the perfect moment of instant Karma. I smiled and told her, VERY sweetly, to have a great night. Every time I see this woman, to this day, she still looks mortified of how awful she was."
Kinja user Ghost of the late Mrs DeWinter:
"Several years ago, I was working at an American style upscale-casual restaurant that did a brisk business in larger parties. One Wednesday afternoon we had a large group of women (28 or so) come in for a birthday celebration. The hosts of the group had previously agreed to and signed a standard contract for a party of that size, namely:
1) A set menu with pre-selected options like an entree salad, a lobster mac'n'cheese (ugh, I know), a burger, a chicken sandwich instead of the full restaurant menu.
2) A set minimum amount of money to be spent which we split by headcount when the hosts told us everyone was paying for themselves (the hosts actually asked for the set minimum).
3) An agreement to an automatic gratuity added to the bill.
4) A cake-cutting fee for the gigantic red velvet cake they were going to bring in.
Again, all of this was agreed to weeks before the event, and it's pretty standard with restaurants that host a lot of large parties.
From the first arrival, things started going downhill. Many women brought their small children unannounced. Several wanted to order off the regular menu instead of the party menu we had discussed/agreed to/bought for/prepped. They also hadn't been informed that each person was going to pay for themselves, nor that there was a set minimum per person (again, at the hosts' request!). Meanwhile, everyone ordered water with tons of lemons on the side and packets upon packets of sugar (we had to frantically cut more lemons because they ran through what we had allotted for the whole restaurant for the whole day). Any server will tell you that very little is more frustrating than someone trying to make lemonade for themselves in an effort to cheap out.
Once we brought out kids menus for the children, all hell broke loose. Most of the guests refused to order from either the party or regular menu and threw fits until they were allowed to order from the kids menu. We finally let them, worn down by this nightmare party. Finally, it was time to cut the cake, and they asked that we pass out checks at that time. We were so frustrated by that point that we weren't going to argue over them being hundreds of dollars short of their minimum, but we did add the gratuity (based on their actual bills, not the agreed-to minimum). Once checks were distributed, they lost it over the gratuity and two of the guests started a scene to grab the attention of those of us working by demanding an explanation for the grat when the service had been "horrible" (I should note that when asked further about this, their only concrete complaint was "not enough lemons") while a group of women placed some cash on their checks and went to the bathroom before hightailing it out of the building. The Scenesters quickly threw some bills at my manager and followed after their friends.
We started cleaning up after this hellish group when a customer from another party came over to tell us that the women's room needed a little cleaning. We walked in to find red velvet cake smeared everywhere — the mirrors, paintings, counters, floor, stalls, walls, and toilets. I'm sure they would have smeared cake on the ceiling if they could have reached. To add insult to injury, the money they left didn't come close to covering their bills.
I do feel sorry for the hosts, though — they were mortified the entire time and completely understood that we were going to charge the credit card they had reserved the table under to recoup the rest of the money owed. We probably would have just chalked the whole thing up to a loss if it hadn't been for the caketastrophe, but at that point all bets were off."
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. Submissions are always welcome! Additionally, if anyone has either a crazy religious people in restaurants story or an epic quitting story, please, please let me know; I've got two good ones for each and I'm just waiting on a third.
Image via MSPhotographic/Shutterstock.