Open letter to the people who eat at my cafeteria:
This is a corporate cafeteria, and not your personal kitchen. Even if you drink directly out of the milk carton at home, or eat applesauce with your fingers while standing in front of the fridge, you aren't really supposed to do that sort of thing here.
To simplify it for you: Please do not handle the food, sample the food, cough on the food or otherwise molest the food in any way, unless and until you have decided to purchase it.
This means you, lady from the other day. Do not lick soup or whatever off your fingers and then use them to pick out the pieces of lettuce that you "don't like the looks of" and toss them back in the bin. And even though I really shouldn't have to tell the rest of you this, I will anyway. It is bad form to take food from the display, partially eat it, and then change your mind and put it back. Thank you,
What prompted this letter you may ask? Well, against my better judgment, I eat in our cafeteria downstairs almost every day. I've seen the movie "Waiting" and I realize there's a certain amount of bat-winging and other unhygenic practices that go on in every food establishment, and to be honest, I'm willing to live with a small amount of fry-cook sweat dripped onto my grilled chicken on occasion if there is no alternative. Would I rather not have the grill guy sweating on my food? Well, hell yes, but sometimes there's just nothing else to eat but a chicken wrap from the grill, so I take a chance and try to watch where the sweat bead lands so I can tear that bit off.
My point here is that at least in a normal restaurant you don't have to deal with other idiot customers screwing with your food. Not so at our fine dining establishment.
Sometimes, when I can't decide what I want to to eat, I'll stand around for bit and think about it. If I do this at a busy time, I might have the opportunity to observe some of my coworkers and their behavior. Trust me, if you did the same thing, you would never eat from the buffet again.
In addition to the lettuce lady I mentioned above, here are a few others I have witnessed: About two weeks ago, I watched a woman bring a full ladle of soup to within a millimeter of her cavernous, bushy-haired nostrils, take a deep whiff, and the drop the ladle back into the soup in disgust. I am pretty sure a few of her nostril hairs took a dunking, and she may have actually snorted soup.
Apparently she didn't believe the sign that said, "Today's Soup: Clam Chowder."
Lady, the soup smells like effing clams, ok? It's practically all you can smell when you walk into the cafeteria, so for future reference, you really don't need to gargle with it to decide if you want some or not.
Not too many mornings ago, I watched another guy come in, grab a muffin off the table with his grime-laden fingers, smell it, tear a small piece off of it to taste, and then decide he didn't want blueberry after all. He put it back down, and moved on to the honey walnut. Seriously, WTF? I felt like asking him if he was going to buy it now that he practically had sex with it, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have thought my joke was funny.
I actually did open my mouth when I saw the lady doing her pick 'n fling act with the lettuce. I said, "The tongs are right there."
She glared at me as if I had just falsely accused her of poisoning the salad bar with strychnine. I just walked away shaking my head. How could she not understand this simple concept? How could she not at least acknowledge the slight possibility that someone else might not want to ingest food that she so recently rejected with a casual flick of the well-licked finger? I wanted to dunk her head in the ranch dressing and hold it there.
I know it's really all about appearances anyway. If I hadn't actually seen her do it, I would have eaten that piece of lettuce with no ill side effects whatsoever. I know that. But it's a matter of common courtesy and maintaining the illusion of clean food.
I'm sure I can probably go to the downtown market square in some third-world country, pick out a nice, fly-covered dog carcass that has been hanging by its back legs on the side of a building for three days, buy a box of shake and bake and have a casserole ready for dinner in about 30 minutes. In America, that sounds disgusting -- but for all I know, people in other countries would call it "aged to perfection" or perhaps "well tenderized."
I don't know anything about that. I just know I don't want your fingers (or any of your other body parts) in my food.
I suppose I could just bring my lunch, but then what would I bitch about?