When it came out, I picked up a morsel only to find a hair stuck to the side of it. Without giving it much thought, I removed the foreign object, consumed the food, and moved on with my life.
The people I was with would not touch the food and brought up "the hair" a few times throughout the rest of the night. Though the whole situation didn't bother me in the moment, it woke me up last night, and put me in such deep thought, I couldn't go back to sleep.
As the hair tainted the food that I decided to eat, did I taint the thoughts my friends have of me because of my decision? Have they concluded that I'm repulsive or lacking in proper dining etiquette? What about my life experience made me make a decision like this? What do normal people do in these situations?
And so, I pondered.
The night of the incident, without a doubt, I was a little buzzed, and so full-on rational thinking was out the window, but I was NOT devoid of thought. No, my thoughts were quick, like lighting, and they were these:
1. I come to this place a lot. I know the people behind the bar well enough, and I'm just going to take care of the situation and move on without causing a scene.
2. I used to wait tables. Hair on food happens. We all wish it didn't, but it does, and it's not the end of the world.
3. Because I worked in a restaurant, I know what it's like to be on the other side of the table. No matter what the situation, when someone sends their food back, it's awkward. Even if the customer is the nicest person on the planet about it, the server plus everyone back in the kitchen knows that, "lady at seat 1, table 22" was upset enough about something so much that she complained and sent her food back. And now the whole dining experience is uncomfortable for everyone- server, manager, table. I'm not saying NEVER send back food, but I'm saying to ask if it's worth it first.
4. You can't complain at a restaurant discreetly. You have to do it in front of everyone around you, and that is something a server (like me) couldn't recover from. But say you don't complain. Are you going to sulk throughout the whole meal?
It's no fun to eat out with someone who gets upset easily. It should be a time of enjoyment, and if the people you're with are high maintenance or hard on servers, it can ruin a whole evening.
5. Sending back food worries me. You don't want to piss off chefs. They are an angry people with the perfect amount of control and distance from the situation to taint your food worse without you knowing. In other words, I don't send back food unless there's a thumb or something in it (this has never happened, but would make a GREAT blog post), and if it's fast food (this has never happened either), I throw it away because I got what I paid for.
Sometimes I wish someone would pay me to research and conduct polls about scenarios like this, to find "the norm." I would ask things like:
If you are dining out and find a hair on your food in a restaurant, would you:
a) chew the server out and ask for a full refund
b) chew the server out and then order something else
c) chew the server out and then order the same dish
d) politely ask for the plate to be removed and for a refund
e) politely ask for the plate to be removed and order something else
f) politely ask for the plate to be removed and order the same dish
g) not say anything and not eat the food
h) remove the hair, not say anything, and eat it begrudgingly
i) remove the hair, not say anything, and eat it without caring
The answer to this question can speak volumes about a person. It could speak volumes about a whole social class. There is an understanding that can be found through the answer to this question.
In a way, I feel like a martyr. I chose to eat the tainted food the other night because I quickly decided I could suck it up enough not to cause a scene or create awkwardness with the employees there. This is all well and good, but I'm pretty certain I permanently grossed out the people I was with and this makes me self-conscious. It bothers me to have reasons for my actions that others may not understand. And the thing is, I understand their decision not to partake. I see their side that it was gross, certainly.
I've concluded that my answer to the above poll question next time will be e) or f) and only i) if I can remove the hair without anyone noticing.
What are you going to do?
Some people (mostly old boyfriends) have told me I think too much. I tell them it's because I'm compensating for their lack of thought. No, I've never said that, but it sure as heck feels like I'm compensating for something.