Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. We’re doing something different this week: a collection of the most messed-up story submissions I’ve ever received. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
This week’s stories are not fun. They are not light-hearted. They are genuinely awful. A couple of them are going to make you feel like you need a shower, possibly using turpentine as brain shampoo. Some of them will make you question your faith in humanity, assuming you have any left at this point. This won’t be a trend; I promise we’ll be returning to our regularly-schedule BCO funtimes next week. I’ll even pick a lighthearted theme that can give us all the warm fuzzies. But while we have a lot of fun with these stories on the regular, it’s important to note that they can get a lot darker if they go in even a slightly different direction. The stories you’re about to read sit past that event horizon.
Alright, you’re as ready for these as you’re going to be. Let’s strap in and do this.
Kinja user TanyaFace:
I served through college at a nicer version of your standard Bar & Grill type restaurant. I had a two-top once, a father and a son, the father was in his mid 50’s and very chatty. It was a busy Saturday dinner rush but I took the time to enjoy a bit of banter with him (and up my potential tip) when he asked if the tattoos on my wrists were real. I said yes, they were in fact.
He then proceeded to grab my arm, flip my wrist over, lick his fingers then try and rub my tattoo off. I politely excused myself then ran to wash my hands and arms like a maniac for the next five minutes.
Kinja user Plaatsvervangende Schaamte:
I used to work at a sports bar down South. One night, fairly close to closing time, a man and a woman come into the bar and ask for a table. I should say the man asked for a table—the woman was either completely smashed or drugged as she couldn’t even hold her head up. In fact, once they’re sitting down, the guy is propping her up from across the table so that they can ostensibly have a conversation. When the server comes by, the guy asks for a glass of wine for each of them. The server, not entirely sure what to do in this situation, says he’ll bring a drink for the guy, but not for her.
He brings the drink to the table, and before he could even turn around the guy slides it over to the woman and tells her to drink it. The manager was watching for this and immediately rushes over to take the glass away and tell the guy they’re cut off.
Well, the guy throws an enormous pissfit, slamming his fist on the table and screaming about customer service while the woman slowly slides down in her seat. After a few minutes of venting at the manager, he grabs the woman by the shoulder and starts pulling her to the door.
He still has her by the shoulder here, and as they get near the door, he shoves her into one of those sandwich-board-style chalk special signs we had set up near the front. She goes toppling over it and hits her head on the floor. He immediately starts screaming about calling the police and suing the restaurant for injuring her and how he’ll make sure the place is closed within a week.
And then the police roll up. Because as soon as he brought the woman into the bar, our manager had already called the police and was just stalling until they could get there. You’ve never seen a guy go from angry alpha male to gutless coward so quickly. After a long conversation, he leaves the parking lot in the back of the police car, and the woman, starting to come to, leaves in an ambulance. I have no idea what happened long term, but I sure hope that guy is (still) in prison.
(Editor’s Note: Almost certainly not, but it’s nice to believe in miracles)
In college, I worked at a small, regional BBQ place that was popular for mac n’ cheese and pulled pork. Not terrible food, but everything had a cutesy name, like “The Three Little Pigs” or “Porky’s Pie.” Great place to bring your kids on a Friday night or to bring grandma after church. NOT the most romantic place in the world.
So one day I’m working a double and during lunch a guy comes in with a cake from a very fancy, extremely delicious bakery. He says that he’s bringing a date there in the evening and wants to know if we can surprise her with this cake dessert. Normally we didn’t allow customers to bring the own food, but the guy was so sweet and earnest that my manager gave him the ok. He also brought flowers and candles and requested that they be arranged on the table when they arrived. The restaurant had pigs everywhere and a tractor hanging from the ceiling, and he basically wanted white tablecloth service. But whatever. We accommodated and set up his fancy table at the BBQ joint.
They wound up sitting in my section and the guy was beaming with smiles. His date was not. She appeared to be grinning and bearing it the whole night through. Whenever I came to the table he said things like, “She looks beautiful, doesn’t she? Have you ever seen such a beautiful woman?” I politely smiled and agreed, and his date cringed at every comment. From afar, I could see him smiling wildly, cracking up at his own jokes, and making feeble attempts to hold her hand.
They finish their entrees and I pull the cake out of the cooler and take it out of the box. It’s a gorgeous cake—looks almost like a mini wedding cake—and it says “5 Years Free” in pink icing on the top. I have no idea what this means but I bring it out as requested with plates and silverware. As per his instructions, I place the cake in front of her. He’s BEAMING with pride at his apparently thoughtful and clever cake and she immediately starts crying. Horrified, I bolt from the table to give them some privacy. A few minutes later, he waves me over and asks me if I know what the cake means. I say no, and he gives me the back story. “She just passed the 5 year mark for being cancer-free.” She’s still weepy (and totally mortified) and I awkwardly go, “Oh, wow, that’s great news, congratulations!” She says nothing and he goes, “I’ve been asking her out for years and back then she told me she wouldn’t go out with me til she hit the 5 year mark. So I kept count and here we are! I made her keep her promise!” She’s quiet the rest of the meal, doesn’t eat the cake, and uses our phone to call a cab to pick her up. He pays the bill and complains to me about how she didn’t appreciate his majestic and romantic gestures.
When I was studying English Literature at Queen’s University Belfast, I was also a part-time sandwich artist at a local Subway (sadly, now closed), not far from the university. I loved my co-workers and the clientele was an entertaining mix of students, tourists and kids from the notoriously loyalist Sandy Row street which was a block or two away.
I was working a Saturday afternoon shift when a procession of variously aged men wearing kilts and full on Scottish regalia started coming in to order sandwiches. I chatted to a few of them and it turned out that there was a bagpipe convention nearby.
This may not be the case in America but a running joke with kilt-wearing folk in the UK is the question (accompanied by a wink) “Are you wearing anything under the kilt?” as it’s tradition to go totally commando.
I was bantering with one chap as I made his sandwich and he was clearly merry on a pint or two. He started talking about what he was wearing so I said, automatically and without thinking, “So, are you wearing anything under the kilt?”
He grinned at me, lifted his kilt and without even hesitating, flopped his sad, exposed wiener onto our stainless steel counter top. I squeaked, said, “That’s four pounds seventy” and then, once he’d left the store, scrubbed the counter top down with a metric fuckton of disinfectant.
When I was a teenager, I worked at this restaurant that had opened in the 50’s and was a gathering place for old men with old hot rods who really liked heartburn. It also had one of the only remaining drive-in movie theaters in the state. Although the place is closed now (and you’ll understand why in a moment), the nightmares that I saw in that shit hole will stay with me forever. This is just one of them...
Aside from all of the predatory men that were constantly hitting on me (I was 15 at the time), and the food (I was told to scrape mold off the sausage patties during one breakfast rush), the place had it’s own kind of white trash charm. Per the usual for teenagers, I worked mainly nights and weekends which were also the busiest times of the week, especially during the summer when the drive in movie theater was open. I worked the front counter taking orders when it was slow, and the back window/concession stand when it was busy. Since this was a 50’s style restaurant, there was the drive up stalls where you could order your food and some lady in roller skates was supposed to come out and wheel your food to you. We didn’t use the skates anymore but we still had customers that would order this way. They were usually douche bags that were too lazy to come in and generally enjoyed the idea of women personally serving them food.
Anyways, this one night when it was slow, I was working the front counter when our eardrums were assaulted with screaming from the intercom, indicating to us that someone was ready to place an order. The manager/owner at the time was not much better than the customers that frequented the place, so she screamed right back at him as they sorted out the details of his order over the shitty, crackling, intercom.
After the food was ready, my manager asked me to deliver it to them. We assumed the man would give me $20.00, so I took out the appropriate change to make the transaction as quick as possible. When I walked outside I saw it was truck. Great. I’m short. Like, not even 5’, so naturally trying to hoist a large order of food into a truck presents some problems for me. I placed the tray on the window of the truck and noticed a lady sitting in the there with him. He took the food off the tray and handed it over to her. I’m not lying when I say that the smell coming from the inside of that truck was horrendous. It smelled like body odor, old semen and bad decisions.
I got up on my tip toes so I could see what the guy was going to pay with and SURPRISE! Neither of them were wearing any pants. Gee, no wonder they didn’t bother coming in. They couldn’t even be bothered to get dressed before rushing over to get food, post coitus. My poor, 15 year old eyes had been assaulted with the vision of stained, dirty, tighty whities and what I can only assume was supposed to be a g-string. This couple had to be in their late 40’s and had a combined amount of MAYBE 20 teeth. So now I had to pretend like I hadn’t noticed anything, and how easy is it for a 15 year old to act like they didn’t see that!? Needless to say I was mortified and he probably knew something was up because I was so hesitant to take his money. I really, really did not want to touch that money.
Luckily I had divined the appropriate denomination in which he paid, so the change I had on the tray was correct. I threw the change in his window and I got the fuck out of there. My manager saw me when I came in and said “What’s wrong with you? You look like you saw a ghost!” I told her what happened and she nearly died from laughter. Nearly 15 years later, I still think about that man in his dirty underwear. *shudders*
I’d just moved into a new apartment and was living by myself while looking for a roommate. I was also picking up part-time work at a restaurant literally around the corner, which was owned and run by a stoner lunatic and has long since closed.
It was a “French Quarter” place, and this one Mardi Gras, the owner insisted on keeping a giant bowl of Hurricanes on hand, selling them off for a few bucks a pop. I was running off my feet filling demand, including this one older guy (I’d guess mid-fifties) who softly cupped my ass while receiving his Hurricane refill, and who I promptly decided to cut off. He stayed until closing time; he might have been drinking his friend’s drinks, but I wasn’t sure.
So I settle up, organize my tips, head home, change into my sloppy sweats, and then use the bathroom. When I come out, THERE’S OLDER GUY. He’s standing in just a pair of jockey shorts, in the middle of my apartment, with his arms spread wide open, ready to embrace me. He’d followed me home and I hadn’t locked the front door, because I wasn’t thinking, “Oh, a fucking psycho might follow me home from that job.”
I don’t actually know just what I screamed at him, but there was definitely screaming involved. And he got super offended.
“Sex is a beautiful thing!” He shouted at me. “Why are you treating it like it’s dirty?”
I threw at him the only available weapon I had close to hand, a paperback book. I missed pretty badly, but he still grabbed his clothes off the floor and ran out the front door.
I never went back to that fucking restaurant.
And as somewhat of a palette cleanser, here’s a horrifying story that at least has some kind of justice attached to it:
When I was 14, I got my first job working at a local ice cream parlor and cafe. This was on a small island in Florida where most of the residents were either snowbirds or spring breakers so they were thrilled to have me. Within six months, I was working 12 hour shifts on weekends and running the place by myself. The owner was a nice old woman who lived around the corner and would pop in once a day to check on me but for the most part I was left alone.
On one of these days, I had an older gentleman come into the dining room and ask for a bowl of soup. When I brought the soup back to the table and was about to set it down, I looked down and he had pulled his genitalia out of his pants (couldn’t tell you if it was penis, balls, or both because it was the first time I had ever seen male parts and it just looked like a bunch of raw meat to me) and was sitting there proudly. I was so shocked that I missed the table and dropped the practically boiling soup—you guessed it—right in his lap. Luckily, he never came back.
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you’d like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens (on ANY subject, not just this one)? 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!
Note: I do not want poop stories. Please stop sending me poop stories.
Image via Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.
Contact the author at WilyUbertrout@gmail.com.