Regardless of the story your friend told you about his cousin’s nephew’s friend’s uncle, restaurant servers do not spit in guests’ food. Also men with hooks for a hand do not prowl lookout point and if you say “Bloody Mary” three times she will not appear. Although the latter would explain why servers, in general, try not to work brunch shifts. Furthermore the urban legend of servers spitting in guests’ meals is one of the most insulting ideas imaginable to professional restaurant servers.
I’m not sure where this concept began, but I know that it is often repeated in television and film. This has led to many people taking it seriously and believing that it is a fact of life in restaurants. I have had friends tell me that they won’t send back food to the kitchen under any circumstances out of fear of what the staff will do to it. As they say it, they have no idea how deeply offensive this notion is to me and how casually they just insulted the industry that I am proudly a part of.
Inherent within this notion is the idea that restaurant workers have no capability to handle the insults and rudeness of their guests. It implies that our first instinct is to resort to juvenile and disgusting ways to settle the score. All of this is based on the notion that uneducated and uncivilized restaurant workers would stoop to levels that the person making the statement would never do themselves. This is because restaurant workers are supposedly a rung below them on the evolutionary scale of maturity.
If I go to a tailor, I don’t fear telling him that one leg of my pants is longer than the other because I think he will spit in the coffee he offered me. In fact, if one leg were longer than the other, the tailor would probably apologize and ask for the opportunity to fix it. I think the same analogy would hold true of most any professional. You probably have a customer or client that you do not like, have you ever done anything to physically harm them? Why do you think a server would?
I am not going to say that nobody anywhere has ever done this. There are 2.3 million servers in the US. Add in cooks and fast food workers, and the number rises to about 10 million. To put that in perspective, there are 10 times as many food service workers as there are high school teachers. There are far more stories of high school teachers behaving inappropriately with students than there are restaurant employees messing with guests’ food. No one fears sending their kids to high school because of this. What makes the two situations different?
Keeping alive the meme that food service professionals will mess with your food is only allowed because of the inherent lack of respect for the industry. This is far more insulting than sending back an undercooked steak. Yet people continue this myth without looking at the assumptions that are at its very core. Enough with the prejudice against those in the food service industry. I am proud of my profession, and most of the 10 million other hard working food service professionals are as well. We treat your food with too much respect to do anything to defile it. We simply ask that you show us the same level of respect we show for your food.