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 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 was 17 and working at a movie theater concession stand with my best friend. It was during the slow time when all the movies were playing and a boy (about 6 and obviously just learning to read) came up to the candy counter by himself. My friend walks over to help him. He asks which candy is cheapest and she tells him the bottom row. She does not name the individual candy, but it’s Sprees, Nerds, Runts, etc.
He is seriously contemplating his decision when he asks, “How much are the Sprees and the Cunts?” I heard the strangest sound and turned to see my friend beet red from trying not to laugh. I walk over and she manages to get him to repeat the question...and now I can’t contain myself. She sputters out $1.00 (yep, you could get candy for a buck in 1996) and he happily selects the ‘Cunts.’ To be fair, the curly R on the Runts label might be mistaken for a C by a 6 year old.
In the meantime, I have run off to relay this latest amusement to all of my coworkers and manager. With a straight face, my manager—a woman responsible for most of the dirty jokes I know to this day—chimes in: ”we should have told him ‘the Sprees are $1.00, but the cunts are much more expensive.’”
I still want to know the mom’s reaction when her proud son returned to show her his newly purchased box of Cunts.
Many years ago, I was working as a delivery driver for Domino’s in a pretty small town—there were only a handful of pizza joints, and only one that wasn’t part of a major chain. It was working the four-to-close shift on a hot summer Saturday, so you knew it was going to be a busy day, as nobody wants to cook in a hot kitchen when it’s already 90+ degrees outside.
The dinner rush hadn’t yet started when we got a really strange order. A guy wanted a pizza delivered...to Pizza Hut (yeah, I’m not afraid to name names). That wasn’t highly irregular back then, as all the managers kind of knew each other (again, small town) and they’d often order from each other to see what kind of new stuff they had.
But that was usually at lunch, and this call wasn’t from a manager. It was from a customer. In the Pizza Hut. Who apparently was rather, shall we say, nonplussed with the lack to speed with which his Pizza Hut order was being brought to him. Guy taking the order looks at the manager, manager shrugs. “Hey, money is money.” So into the oven the pizza goes.
Lucky me, I get to take this order, and if you hit all the lights green (which I did save one), it’s five minutes from Domino’s to Pizza Hut. By the time I get there, it had apparently been almost an hour since our irate customer had ordered his pizza in the restaurant. And the place was busy, but it wasn’t that busy.
My customer sees me and waves me over to his table while everyone else in the restaurant stares at me, in my orange-and-blue polyester polo, partly in confusion, partly in longing as they were all waiting for their pizzas too. I get in, I get out, nobody gets hurt, as in, I escape before any Pizza Hut employees were really aware of what’s going on, or, more likely, they’re too busy to care.
Half an hour later, we get all call from the Pizza Hut manager asking us, in no uncertain terms, to please never do that again.
Kinja user Liquid-X:
I worked for Fazoli’s for over a decade. Like every Fazoli’s I worked at, the store I started at always had problems because the company was too cheap to pay for repairs. For over a year, there was a leak in the ceiling right over the space between the counter and the wall (where we walked to get back to the kitchen). So, every time it rained, there was a constant dripping right in that spot. But, naturally, we could never get anyone to fix it.
So, right after the GM who hired me quit, we had the new GM working when the Area Supervisor came in to check on how things were going. Now, this was during a pretty heavy rainstorm, so naturally the ceiling was dripping. The AS takes one look at this, and starts complaining about how bad this would look to the customers. He reaches up, pokes at the ceiling...
A literal *WATERFALL* comes pouring forth as the ceiling panel gives way from that tiniest of pokes. He stands there, blinking, and soaked head to toe. Saying nothing, he walks out to his car and drives off. The ceiling was fixed within the week.
My friend and I decided to spend a nice early-summer evening by dining at a fancy-ish bar and grille (what’s the difference between a “grill” and a “grille,” anyway?) in Sacramento. It was the type of place where the cheapest thing on the menu was the $13 burger, and it had a band of white guys going through midlife crises playing smooth jazz off to the side.
We were sat at a table where we could see the front of the restaurant, specifically the large glass windows showing the shrubbery and parking lot outside. Most of the meal was uneventful and reasonably tasty, but halfway through we saw a sunburned guy dressed in paint-stained jeans and T-shirt wheeling a dolly by the front door of the restaurant. It didn’t register as strange until the man stopped near the entrance and began relieving himself in the bushes outside. The juxtaposition of the restaurant’s faux-fanciness and this wanderer’s unabashed realness was so beautiful, my friend and I weren’t even upset. In fact, we were delighted. But things got better when the man shook off, zipped up and came inside.
When he entered, I was able to get good look at him. He was wearing one of those Big Dog T-shirts, which, as mentioned before, was paint-stained beyond repair. He had a gray mustache and goatee, jeans that looked older than me, and his eyes were surprisingly lucid considering he just urinated in public. In daylight. In front of an operating restaurant full of diners.
He stood in the welcome area and surveyed the restaurant. The host was nowhere to be seen. In fact, most of the restaurant workers seemed to have vanished as soon as the man entered. Perhaps coincidence, perhaps preparation.
After examining the tables, he saw a table a few down from us that was occupied by a couple in their mid-50’s. He walked up to them casually—as if they were old friends—and appeared to begin a conversation with them. The man gestured to a bottle of wine on the table, and then picked it up and gestured to it some more. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it certainly appeared as though he was telling the couple all about the wine they ordered. The couple, clearly well-to-do and not used to such unseemly behavior, both looked like deer stuck in headlights. They were not saying a word to this man. I don’t think they were even blinking.
Well, after seemingly telling the couple all about the wine they purchased, he poured himself a glass. And by a glass, I mean he poured half of the bottle into a glass. He swirled the wine around, held it up to the setting sunlight to examine the clarity, and then downed the glass in one flawless chug.
He wiped his mouth on his arm and extended his thanks to the couple. He turned and saw a waitress passing by with a tray. He signaled her and put his empty glass on her tray before giving her a slight “thank you” nod and leaving. He grabbed his dolly and rolled on with his life. The waitress turned to the older couple and asked if they knew that man. They both shook their heads emphatically, clearly flummoxed and stunned by what just happened. Meanwhile, my friend and I could NOT stop laughing. We don’t know who that man was, where he came from or where he went. But we are thankful he was a part of our lives, even if just for a moment. Hopefully he is riding his dolly across country, pilfering moderately-priced wine from snooty diners everywhere.
Back during college and part of grad school, I worked in an upscale chocolate store (hint - named after an aristocratic lady who once supposedly rode naked on a horse). It was a lazy afternoon when a woman walked in and appeared to be a little off, possibly high. She asked random questions about lots of chocolates, and had a weird little cackle while she tried the samples we had out. Somehow, she began talking to us employees and told us about her plans to go to a strip club with her boyfriend. We were mostly nodding along awkwardly out of politeness.
Finally, she finished purchasing her stuff, and as she’s on the way out, she turned back to us and said something like: “I don’t care if he goes to a strip club, ‘cause those bitches have nothing on these!”
She pulled down her shirt, showing her boobs to the whole store.
I was working my first serving job at an upscale northern Delaware restaurant, whose clientele was old, white and upper class (I’m a black American 20’s something). It was a busy lunch service, and I was wrapping up with a four top of middle aged white women who were nothing but pleasant the entire meal. As I said my goodbyes, they asked me what I was in school for, etc. and one woman chimed in and asked me, “What are you? We were all trying to guess during the meal!”
I, very busy and not really listening to the question, responded: “Oh, American, from DC!” and began to walk away, when they called me back to the table. Their faces had dropped, and I then realized what she really meant.
“Oh. Um, I’m just, like, black.”
“Not Mexican or anything?!” They clamored.
“No, just black.”
They were very disappointed.
We were at a family restaurant and a couple, mid-20s I’d say, was seated at the booth next to us. The waiter came to their table, introduced himself as Bob (name changed to protect the innocent) and asked if he could take their drink order. The man loudly answered “Hey Bob, I’ll have a glass of water, but first answer one question for me. If you had to choose one or the other, would you kill a human being or have sex with a goat?”
Bob was clearly mortified, but did his best and stammered that he’d choose the goat. The man bellowed “Really? You’d fuck a goat?!” then laughed oafishly and said “you’re a sweet guy, Bob.”
The woman with him looked embarrassed but also laughed. I like to think that she was just laughing to be polite, that it was her first and only date with this idiot, that she told all of her friends how obnoxious he was, and he is now and forever known to all as Goat Sex Guy. And that she left Bob a really, really good tip.
(Editor’s Note: Bob must not have been doing the job for very long if he was mortified by that question, because servers and cooks say WAYYYYYYYY more fucked-up shit to each other pretty much every day)
When I was a student in an Australian rural city, I worked as a driver for a very well known pizza restaurant chain. It was not the worst way to earn a living, driving around with music turned up delivering pizzas to mostly friendly people.
But then Freak Wednesday happened. We only had three drivers on shift because it was usually a quiet night but for some reason everyone in town wanted pizza. We were rushed off our feet and whenever a customer called, we told them up front there was at least a 90-minute wait on deliveries so they had the choice to order or make other plans for dinner.
The customers were pretty understanding except for one man who is what we call in Australia a “yob” - a rude, boorish dickhead. I knocked on the door, started with the apology spiel and the free bottle of Mountain Dew and he screamed at me: “THIS JUST ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH! I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR TWO BLOODY HOURS!”
I tried to explain that he was made aware when he ordered his pizza that there was a minimum 90-minute wait on deliveries and he just kept yelling at me.
Finally, he reached Peak Stupid when he shouted: “I’M CALLING MICK CLOUGH ABOUT THIS! YOU CAN EXPECT A VISIT FROM MICK CLOUGH IN THE MORNING!”
Mick Clough was the local member of Parliament, the Australian equivalent of a congressman.
“Er, I don’t think late pizzas are in Mick Clough’s jurisdiction but you are welcome to give him a call,” I cheerfully informed him before I drove off.
Unsurprisingly, Mick Clough did not turn up to the restaurant the next morning to demand to know why an upstanding citizen had to wait two hours for his pizza. It would appear government in Australia isn’t *that* big...
In my Grade 12 year, myself and two friends had a major Euro history paper due, which we finished during an all-nighter while chatting on MSN Messenger with each other. We all finished about an hour before class, so we met at a breakfast joint nearby rather than getting in a power nap.
My friend James hits the washroom while my friend Matt and I sit down at the table. A minute or so later, the bathroom door bursts open and some disheveled looking dude sprints past all the tables, out the front door, and out of sight, followed by James with an incredulous look on his face.
James tells us he was at the sink washing his hands when he heard someone giggling, which was strange because nobody else was in the washroom. Thinking he was just delirious and overtired from the all nighter, he didn’t think much of it.
Then out of nowhere, the man came crashing through the soft-panel ceiling straight to the floor—so a good nine feet—landing shoulder first. Unfazed, the man got up, looked James right in the eye with pupils the size of dinner plates, giggled, then bolted out.
Not believing what had just happened, Matt and I went to the can to confirm that, yes, a ceiling panel had fallen out and the frame around it bent like someone had fallen through. The restaurant staff said they never saw the man come in that morning. There was a lounge on the other side of the dining room that stayed open til 2am, so presumably he’d been up there all night tripping balls while the restaurant was closed before making his dramatic exit.
I still wonder what that guy was on and how he ever got up there in the first place.
Kinja user C.E. Arnold:
It was winter in Chicago, and my roommate and I noticed only after the blizzard had begun that we didn’t have anything in the kitchen that would pass for dinner. There was a grocery store just down the road, but neither of us wanted to deal with the weather, so we decided to call and see if the Chinese take-out place a few blocks away from our apartment was open for delivery. They were. Great. No brainer, right?
We placed our order and were told that it would arrive in 25 minutes or so. Forty-five minutes later, we still had no food, but we figured that they were probably inundated with business because of the storm, so we weren’t too worried about it. After another 15 minutes, though, we decided to call. I was told that our delivery would arrive “soon,” and then the guy on the other end then hung up.
Another 45 minutes later, still no Chinese food. I called back, gave my name, recounted the previous phone call…and was asked what we wanted to eat. I explained again that we had already placed our order and that we had been waiting nearly two hours for delivery. From a restaurant was Three. Blocks. Away.
The guy told me to hold on a minute while he checked, which I did. What else was there to do? The snow was practically dumping at this point. He finally came back on the line and said, I kid you not, “Yeah, sorry, your food blew out the door.” What the huh?
I was totally at a loss for words. After some silence, the guy finally asked me if I wanted him to make the food again.
Yes, we wanted him to re-make the food, I declared, without even coming across very rudely. I was experiencing a mental toss-up between sheer disbelief and wanting to laugh hysterically, so the two just sort of cancelled one another out.
“Okay,” he said, “45 minutes.” And then he hung up on me. Again.
Surprise, surprise, 45 minutes later, there was still no sign of the delivery guy. Again, we waited another 15 or 20 minutes, then called to inquire as to what in the name of all things holy and MSG-laden had happened to our dinner.
“Sorry,” I was told, “kitchen’s closed.”
“What do you mean the kitchen is closed?” I asked, dumbfounded. “We ordered more than three hours ago!”
“Yeah, too late. Kitchen’s closed.” And then he offered optimistically, “We’ve still got Crab Rangoon. Do you like that?”
I’m vegetarian, so no, I didn’t like Crab Rangoon. Even my decidedly non-vegetarian roommate was offended by the offer. All was lost. The storm raged on and the supermarket had closed by now. Instead, we went to bed hungry.
By the next morning it had finally stopped snowing. I was a grad student at the time and spent most of that next day doing homework. At about 2:30 in the afternoon the phone rang.
“Hey, lady,” said a familiar voice, “you want your Crab Rangoon?”
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 Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.
Contact the author at WilyUbertrout@gmail.com.