Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fun with Lunch-Time Conniption Fits

Find a line cook that likes a slow day and I'll show you a liar. Sometimes. When your day is filled with buffalo chicken moments, the occasional slow day is just what the doctor ordered and that is exactly what I have experienced this week. Our cafe is driven by two influences: weather and Prince's early work before he changed his name. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating the influence of Prince. Remains to be seen. But when it rains like today and Tuesday, the cafe gets quiet. So this has been a thankfully peaceful week. And what better time than one characterized by calm than to recall one of my most outrageous customer blow-ups?

You may remember, dear readers, that display plates often find themselves at the center of gastronomical gaffes. I sometimes feel like the plate police, trying in vain to protect the food from theft or the aesthetics from ruin. I thought about getting a badge and a whistle.

During the winter slow period, a middle-aged man came to the cafe with his young son who was big enough to talk but small enough to sit comfortably on his father's shoulders. And this young boy was clearly daring, interested in exploring food not listed on the children's menu. Kudos to the lad and his father for encouraging adventurous eating. But the pressure of satisfying the child's appetites must must have been too much and I was the unwitting fool that provoked the father's wrath.

The cafe was empty one hour into our shortened lunch service. After surveying the menus, the father reached for the display plate and removed it from the folded soup cup lid that kept it at an angle. My first thought: Damn it! Another display plate caper! We can't keep losing these things! I did my best Carl Lewis impression, bounding over to the plate and firmly requested "Sir, please put the display plate back on the counter." And this is what transpired in raised voices:

Irrationally Angry Papa Bear (IAPB for short): You know what, David, it's not a big deal! What's the problem?

David: Sir, I simply would like you to replace the display plate. We ask that customers do not move it.

IAPB: You know, David, you have a lot of rules! A lot of rules! What exactly are you trying to protect?!

David: Well, I'm trying to protect my plate, sir.

IAPB now shouting: A lot of rules, David! He's five years old. How would you suggest he see the plate?

David: Might I suggest picking him up instead of the plate?

IAPB: BLLLAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH (and then his head spontaneously combusted, ruining my display plate after all)!

Okay, the last part didn't happen and it's a good thing too. I really didn't want to waste my time and product making another display plate.


  1. "We are trying to protect our business license by asking that you not set a precedent that it is OK to touch any of our food with your hands, thereby contaminating it and potentially causing other customers to fall ill. Thank you."

    But I wouldn't have been able to come up with that on the fly, either.

  2. Now that is far more articulate than I could ever be on the spot - I love it!