When I was a student I used to work in a pub during the holidays. This turned me into a very bitter person. Standing up all day long whilst people are enjoying themselves, eating, and slowly getting pissed evokes, at best, envy and at worst murderous rage.
I knew it had got out of hand when one afternoon an elderly couple walked into the pub and started shuffling towards the bar. I looked at them said “Good afternoon. How can I help you? Will you be eating? You will, well the specials are…” but I was thinking “Why don’t you just fuck off and die and leave me alone you massive pain in the arse bastards!”.
Actually this saying one thing and thinking another became a feature of any job I had that involved serving customers. I once discussed this with a colleague whilst we stood behind the meat counter of a rather middle-class supermarket. It turned out he did it as well and I said “I wonder what would happen if we actually said what we think?”.
A customer arrived and he prepared the order and as he handed it to her said “Here’s your lean mince, you big fat bitch!”.
I swallowed my tongue and waited for the end of days.
She did a double take and walked off shaking her head wearing an expression that was either ‘I must have misheard’ or ‘How does he know I’m a bitch?”.
One particularly busy Sunday afternoon in the pub when we where short staffed, sweating like kids at a Fat Camp induction and trying to serve a bar that was three eggy customers deep, a women asked, rather curtly, if the pasta in the kids meal was gluten free as her daughter was intolerant (any kind of food intolerance always reminds me of a t-shirt I once saw – “Lactose intolerant intolerant”) .
I said “I’m not sure. I can check for you if you like?” but was thinking “Well I would imagine it might have gluten in it as it’s made entirely from wheat, you munchausen-by-proxy nutnut. While I’m at it I’ll check if the sirloin has protein in it, if the lager has alcohol in it and if the ice-cream has any milk in it. Also just to be on the safe side I’ll check if the air we are breathing has oxygen in it”.
I was getting so angry I was in danger of swelling up and doing a watery shit myself, or whatever imaginary symptoms these fuss pots piss and moan about.
Now before I get lots of abuse from people with “food intolerances” I want to make a few things clear.
1) Everything I write here is a joke and if I sound like a condescending cynic it might be because I’m holding a mirror up to it (or the fact that I’m a condescending cynic might be filtering through) .
2) Whilst I know food intolerance is real, I’m pretty sure most people who think they have it, do, think they have it. Particularly if they are self-diagnosed or have had a consultation with a quack nutritionist.
3) If you or your whinging child have it you don’t need to tell the world and his wife about it. But if you do need to shit on about it you don’t need to look and sound like Diana talking to Martin Bashir. I get it, we all get it! If you have X food you’re going to feel a bit bloated and maybe do unpleasant shit at a minutes notice (hang on, I must be intolerant as well, Martin) you don’t have cancer.
4) My primary motivation for writing this is the thought of how mental some of my “intolerant” friends will be going when they read this!
Anyway, I went into the kitchen and said to the landlord, who was standing in for the Chef, “Does the pasta have gluten in it?”.
Now you have to bear in mind whilst reading his response that it was one of the hottest days of the year, he been dropped in it by the chef, it was busier than Primark on bank holiday Monday and he had an eight ring gas burner at bollock height and a massive grill in his face.
“What!? Of course it’s got cunting gluten in it forfuckssake, it’s made from fucking wheat. FUCK! Why, whothefuck is asking?”
At this point I read the situation as having carte blanche to unleash a borderline mentally unhinged rant.
“Oh just some whinging pain in the arse women who is using her perfectly healthy child as a prop to trick compassion and pity out of strangers. She’s shitting on about the menu as her daughter is also a vegetarian so can’t have nuggets or sausages. Does pasta have gluten in it? Does pasta have gluten in it? Probably, let’s get you daughter to try it and we’ll see!”
I then mimed a sad face, rubbed my tummy and said in a whiny little girl’s voice “My tum-tum hurts and I need a bad poopsie out of my bot-bot because my mummy’s an attention seeking fuss pot.”
At this point another barman came into the kitchen to say that the customer was complaining about the wait.
The landlady decided to come out with me and explain the gluten situation to the customer.
Their eyes met and they looked at each other like old friends and embraced.
They weren’t old friends, they were family and the girl was her niece.