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 week one of two of some of the most spectacularly What The Fuck restaurant stories we’ve ever received. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
I used to work at Subway as the closer (you know, the guy who gets to work ‘till the shop closes up so gets to deal with all the drunks), and one Friday night I had to train a new guy to close up so he could start working the shifts I didn’t work.
Now, this store closed at 2 AM on Friday and Saturday, so you just missed the bar crowd getting kicked out of all the bars, but you still got your fair share of drunks. Also, due to the location right downtown we got a lot of prostitutes and drug users.
So on this poor guy’s very first shift, I’m teaching him how to make sandwiches, serve customers, run the cash register, and all the prep work that we do to get ready for the next day. The shift went well enough, and after the last customer left the store and we shut off the “OPEN” sign, I told him that now we get to the best part of the night: clean-up. We started by clearing off the sandwich table, wrapping the bread, prepping all the veggies for the next day, the usual...then it came time to mop up and clean the washrooms.
Now, I don’t want to scare the new guy away, so I warn him that I have seen used needles in the washrooms, and not to touch them, just sweep them up with the bucket and toss them in a box to be disposed of. I also warn him that you will occasionally see human feces in places that it shouldn’t be, but that doesn’t happen too often, so he shouldn’t worry about it.
We clean one of the two washrooms, top to bottom, and he agrees that it was pretty easy, mop, wash the walls quickly, clean the toilet/ sink/ mirrors and done...then we move on to the second one. But the door is locked. I tell him it’s usually from someone taking a huge dump or shooting up or bathroom sex and that we should knock before we use the key to open it. We knock, and nothing...knock again, still nothing...so it’s gotta be empty.
Not empty. We open the door to see some guy. Face on the floor. Pants around his ankles. Bare ass sticking up into the air. Just fell off the toilet. The new guy just looks at me with this horrified expression on his face, and when he asks me what to do, I look at him and without even pausing tell him, “Well, I sure as hell ain’t getting paid enough to deal with this...so we call the cops.”
So we call 911, and the operator asks if the guy needs an ambulance, if he was breathing, etc, to which I reply, “I work at a subway, I am neither a doctor nor am I willing to touch him to see if he was in need of any type of assistance.” The cops arrive in under five minutes, come in fully gloved and while we’re busying ourselves with the rest of the store, they get his pants on, get him vertical and get him out the door.
I guess they decided that they would let him go home or wherever it was that he wanted to go, as once he’s out the door (and we have locked it behind them), they try to go back to their cop car, hoping the guy would stagger on his way.
Instead, the drunk guy turns around, walks right back up to the front door, and starts banging on it screaming “BUT I WANT A SANDWICH! I NEED TO GET A SANDWICH!” The cops walk back up, looking pretty pissed off, grab the guy and toss him in the back of the car to be whisked away into the night. Me and the new guy are pretty much on the floor laughing our asses off at this point.
Much to my surprise, the new guy shows up for work the next day with a big grin on his face and says, “Hope tonight is as interesting as last night!”
(Editor’s Note: Subway stories are the best stories. You guys have NO idea how excited I get every time I see “one time I was working at Subway” at the top of a submission. If you’ve submitted a Subway-related story and haven’t yet seen it on here, rest assured that I have it and am saving it for a special occasion)
I worked at a popular waterfront seafood restaurant on Cape Cod. It was the middle of the day in one of the summer months, so the dining room was packed. There were probably about 15 tables in the dining room, 7 of which were my section, the front of the dining room (i.e., the first seven tables you saw when you walked in). My five-top was sat with what appeared to be a family of tourists from somewhere in East Asia: a mom, dad, grandma, and two small children of about 3 and maybe one. Upon taking their order I realized they spoke no English, which wasn’t too uncommon and wasn’t a problem. We got through the ordering process, which consisted of the dad pointing at appetizers, me nodding and writing them down, and then a few jumbled English words that represented drinks. I went to fill the drink order behind a small wall that housed the server station.
Upon exiting said station, tray of drinks in hand, I turned to face the table and saw a scene I will never forget. The 3 year-old boy was standing on his chair, pants down around his ankles, peeing. Directly into a cup. Grandma is seated next to him holding said cup. In the middle of the full dining room. In a public restaurant. Every single other person in the dining room was dead silent, staring at me, and then at them, and then back to me, and so on. The only action I could muster was to walk over to the table, put down their drinks, and point at the bathroom sign without saying a word. I walked away and did not say another word to them.
One of my first jobs was at a restaurant and ice cream shop chain located on the East Coast. One night, a man came into the restaurant, clearly distraught, claimed his wife had called him, she had gotten into an accident and to come to the scene. However, he didn’t have the gas to get to her, and asked to borrow $10 or $20, and he would return and pay us back after he knew his wife was safe. He offered to leave his cell phone as collateral. It all happened so fast, but he was so upset we couldn’t turn him down. A few us got the $20 together and he ran out of the restaurant.
After about an hour of letting everything roll around in our heads, the manager on duty decided to snoop, because none of this was making any sense. And snoop we did. And what was on this phone would make the executives at Brazzers blush. The collection of photographs on this phone ranged from R-rated topless pics to stuff you’d only see in an illegal Max Hardcore flick. About 400 photographs. Nasty, nasty stuff.
About 5 minutes into the snooping, the phone rang. We answered to what sounded like a screaming young girl, “who is this, you stole my phone, I’m calling the cops?!” My manager answered all of her questions over the phone of how we came in possession of the phone, where to come pick up the phone, etc.
About 20 minutes later, the cops pulled up to the restaurant, and behind them was this itty bitty meek girl with glasses, no older than 17. The cops explained that while the girl was working (she was wearing a McDonald’s uniform) at the drive-thru, someone must have snatched her phone. So, we likely just gave some crackhead his next fix with our $20, but gotta hand it to the guy, A+ for pulling that one off.
Anyway, it was so bizarre meeting this tiny, shy young girl, with a secret collection of scat on her cell phone.
(Editor’s Note: If you’re like me, you immediately wondered if the guy had put the pictures on there. According to Rebecca, he only had the phone for a couple hours, and this was a flip phone, meaning the age before 3G. So, yeah, balance of probability is it was hers. Hey, no judgment here; her fetishes are her business)
One time while eating at Subway (because gas station “roller items” was the only other option within a 15 mile radius), a woman walked in, briskly approached the order counter, and asked for a “tomato” to go.
Clerk: “Do you mean a tomato sandwich?”
Woman: “No, I would just like a tomato.”
Clerk: “Like...some sliced tomato?”
Woman: “I WANT AN ENTIRE TOMATO TO GO!”
At this point, the clerk informed the woman that it was against policy to sell “whole ingredients” to which the woman responded, “Well, great. Now what am I supposed to tell my husband?”
I had a lot of creepy customers as a bartender. This one other regular often made creepy comments about my shoes, which were just work tennis shoes, trying to hint that he wanted them. Obviously, dude had a foot fetish, but since he had never been outright inappropriate, and always tipped $5 for every bottle of beer he ordered, I let it slide. Finally, after weeks on him coming in, he asked me point blank If I would sell him my shoes for $500. These were a beat-up pair of Chuck Taylors that I had bought on sale for 15 bucks, and they reeked of stale beer, feet, and sweat. I had been debating replacing them for some time, but hadn’t yet found the money or the time. It was towards the end of my shift, and I told him I would think about it.
After my shift, he was still waiting, and I had only one question: “If I sell you my shoes, can you promise that I will never know what you did to them, nor will I ever see them again?” He said I would never know, and I went home in my socks with ten fifty dollar bills in my pocket.
(Editor’s Note: It’s apparently fetish week here at Kitchenette. And me without my gimp suit!
...please for the love of God don’t visualize that, you’ll go blind.)
I was chef and GM of a family-owned, fine dining establishment for 22 years. The kitchen had an open line that looked out on the dining area where the guests were seated in wicker chairs with an “S” shaped metal tube frame on them, styled after a famous Breuer design. One crazy busy Saturday night during the Christmas season while I had all 12 burners on the range blazing I noticed that a regular customer had disappeared from view. At that exact moment I hear a child’s voice say “Daddy! What happened?!”
Daddy was no tiny dancer and was in the 400 lb weight range, which was about the limit of the chairs. They could handle the weight as long as person didn’t rock in them, but Dad had started rocking in his chair and the frame had waved a white flag of defeat and collapsed under him, causing him to tilt backwards and drop to the floor. Dad’s ample carriage meant that he was now wedged into the collapsed chair and was like a turtle on its back.
I killed all burners and went into the cooler and laughed so hard my sides hurt and tears were running down my face while waiters and the gentlemen from surrounding tables rolled the chair with its contents on its side so he could crawl out.
From that point on the guy would call ahead for reservations and ask for “a chair without arms on it.”
This story takes place on Election Day, 2008. I was working at a large coffee chain. That day, a promotion was running; if you came in wearing your ‘I Voted’ sticker, you got a free small coffee. Unfortunately, some folks had trouble realizing that ‘free small coffee’ did not mean ‘free any drink you damn well please’ and would come up to our drive through window not understanding why they had to pay for their large sugary beverage. It made for quite the long day.
Around 9 PM, my drive through headset dinged. A man asked about the promotion, and I explained that he could receive one free small coffee. He of course asked if he could get a mocha or latte or the like, and I explained that no, the promotion allowed one small, hot regular brewed coffee. He sighed, and said that he’d get the coffee. I went through the usual, asking if he wanted cream and sugar or a pastry to go with the coffee, and he drove around to the window.
Once he was at the window, I handed him his coffee, thanked him, and told him to have a good night. He asked me for some napkins. I grabbed a few and handed them out the window. That’s when it got weird.
Man: Scoffing at the napkins I’d given him, “I need some more napkins.”
Me: “Sorry about that.” I grab a few more napkins and hand them out.
Man: “I said I needed some NAPKINS!”
Me: Surprised, I grab a decent stack and hand them to him.
Man: “NAPKINS, WOMAN! I NEED NAPKINS!”
Me: At this point, I grabbed the entire stack we kept by the drive through window and gave them to him.
Man: Nods his head. “Now that’s the BARACK way.” And he drives away into the night.
I still to this day don’t know what that means. All I know is that I went home that night and watched the election results wondering how many napkins Barack Obama would require for his small black coffee.
My mom, sister, and I were visiting my grandma in Iowa, and stopped by a Sonic for lunch. I’m a vegetarian, so my default order when going to fast food burger places is usually a salad and/or a cheeseburger without meat (AKA a cheese sandwich). We pull up into the drive-in spot, and a girl comes on the intercom to take our order. My mom, at the steering wheel, begins running through all four of our orders:
Mom: “Hi! We’d like a grilled chicken sandwich and a grilled chicken wrap...”
Sonic employee: “Okay, so that’s two large jumbo popcorn chickens.”
Mom: “What? No. A grilled chicken sandwich and a grilled chicken wrap and a side salad, and...”
Sonic employee: “Chili cheese fries.”
Mom: “What?! No! A grilled chicken sandwich and a grilled chicken wrap and a side salad and a cheeseburger, and a large order of tots...”
Sonic employee: “Chicago dog and onions rings?”
Mom: “I just, what, I don’t, what?!”
Sonic employee: “Anything else?”
Mom: “Two cokes, a small chocolate shake, and then the last thing is we’d like a cheeseburger but without the meat.”
Sonic employee: [totally silent]
Mom: “Uh, hello?”
Sonic employee: [totally silent]
Sonic employee: “So, just the bun?”
Mom: “No, everything on a cheeseburger but just leave the meat patty out.”
Sonic employee: “So, a cheeseburger?”
Mom: “No! A bun, cheese, lettuce, tomato, all the sauces, but NO meat patty.”
Sonic employee: [totally silent]
Sonic employee: “I have to check with my manager.”
Cut to our food being delivered 10 minutes later...every single item is totally correct, true to what we ordered. To this day, we have no idea how.
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/vomit stories. Please stop sending me poop/vomit stories.
Image via Jacek Chabraszewski/Shutterstock.
Contact the author at WilyUbertrout@gmail.com.