The Customer is Always Right. Not! Part 1

I like to eat out, but on my terms. And my terms are more complicated than the Donald’s prenups.

If I don’t get that cleavage should we split up before she’s 30 and too old for me, then YOU’RE FIRED!

Since I’m a vegan who also rejects hot spices, gluten and sugar (or should I say that they reject me), I’m infuriating...impossible…challenging to cater to for most chefs. But I’m willing to try if they are.

Phil and I have a Thai restaurant we go to nearly every time the urge to eat out nibbles at us. Their menu has one or two items I can order as printed (which is as rare as proper grammar in a text message) and their staff is generally willing to make changes to other items so I can eat them. The key word in that last sentence is generally.

A few weeks ago, we went there for dinner and I ordered “drunken noodles” (don’t worry, only the noodles have fallen off the wagon, I’m still sober as, well, a very sober person). The way the dish comes is spicy and in a meat-based brown sauce. I ordered it like this: “I’ll have the drunken noodles, very mild, no spices, with your vegetarian sauce, and extra broccoli please.” I had ordered this dish this way before with delicious results, so I knew it could be done. The nice Thai woman who I think is part owner of the place nodded and looked as if she was writing everything down. Phil, who will eat anything, ordered something off the menu just as it was listed. He’s so easy.

Sure Big Guy. We got that. Blonde Lady, you keep talking. I keep writing. You get what whatever.

Not five minutes later, both of our dishes were in front of us. Mine was conspicuously absent of broccoli and looked darker than I remembered. I took a bite and my tongue lit up like a forest fire. Upon closer examination, I noticed red flecks that could only be pepper flakes. This was the original, not Lorna, version of “drunken noodles.” I was skeptical about the sauce, so I had Phil try it. He agreed it was very spicy and probably not vegetarian.

Madam Thai was busy with the three other customers in the restaurant and didn’t check on how we liked our meals, so Phil took matters, and my plate, into his own hands. He walked into the kitchen and asked them to remake the dish without spices and with a vegetarian sauce. Madam Thai went into the kitchen to see why this big decidedly non-Thai man was in her kitchen. She heard his request and said, “You want no spice, you have to ask no spice.” He didn’t argue with her, and said, “I understand. Could you just fix this?” She curtly nodded.

What? Someone came into my kitchen. Someone is going to be very sorry…

Phil came back to the table and told me what happened. I asked him, “Did you happen to mention the extra broccoli?”

“No. I forgot.”

I tried not to look too disappointed since he just did such a gallant thing for me, but I guess I wasn’t too successful hiding my drunken noodle feelings. Up he went back to the kitchen, leaned in and shouted, “And put extra broccoli on that, would you?”

Madam Thai shot us both a wicked stink eye. I had visions of her with a blonde voodoo doll, some needles, and maybe some matches. I think she was intimidated by Phil’s 6’3″ 250 lb. former Marine-ness, so she took all her indignation out on my 5’6″ 140 lb. Highly Sensitive blonde-ness.

Uh huh. You know the look. And I got it full force from a little old Thai woman. It was powerful.

I saw her come out of the kitchen carrying a dish and a scowl that would scare off a momma grizzly bear, cubs be damned. She plopped the plate on the table, slid it in front of me then turned away, as if looking at me would ruin the curse she sealed when she spit on my food before bringing it to me. Phil and I looked at each other.

“I feel like I’m in trouble,” I told him.

“I think you are,” he said, only half-joking. We both remembered what it was like being little kids in trouble.

Uh huh. You can feel it. I sure did.

“Great. The one restaurant in this town that has food I can eat, and now I’m probably black-listed from it,” I said as I sampled my lighter-colored drunken noodles with a few pieces of broccoli scattered around the plate. It was delicious except for the poverty of broccoli.

Yes, Sir. Her name is Lorna and she has been going to local dining establishments with menu demands traitorous of the American high-calorie, low-nutrient diet. She must be stopped.

Madam Thai ignored me but was kind enough to replenish Phil’s water. When she handed us the bill, she said, “Hope you enjoy meal.” Her thin smile was glued beneath eyes that could have been staring at the person who poisoned her pet snake.

I told Phil as we left the restaurant, “I think we might have to find other places to eat for a while–at least until she cools down.”

“Really? I don’t know…” Phil was skeptical that this one little Thai woman could scare us both away.

“How about Chinese? I haven’t had Chinese food in eons.”

“Sure. Chinese is good.” Phil is easy-going and has this motto that I really like: “If Lorna wants it, I’ll make it happen.” Isn’t that a great motto?

“Okay, let’s try that next time.” I said as we scurried out of the restaurant before Madam Thai could throw any more curses on me.

*****

There’s a very good reason why I gave up Chinese food years ago. It only took one trip to a Chinese restaurant to remind me. And what a trip that was…

Do you want a real adventure in dining with Lorna and her persnickety diet? Stay tuned.

~ by Lorna's Voice on June 27, 2012.

23 Responses to “The Customer is Always Right. Not! Part 1”

  1. Thanks, Darlin’! ❤

  2. There’s a party at a Thai restaurant? I’m in! Drunken Noodles all around! Whoo Hoo! Oh. You didn’t mean that kind of party, did you? 😉

  3. […] The Customer is Always Right. Not. […]

  4. “Ms. Lorna, are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Thai Restaurant Critics Party?”

    (P.S. Congrats on finishing the draft!)

  5. Ah, but their food is so delicious! And I’ve got my “body guard” with me! 😉

  6. Wow…I could just picture that “stink eye” curse being put on you, Lorna. Gosh some people are so uptight…and sorely lacking in customer service skills! I don’t think I’d go back in there alone either… 🙂

  7. Life has the most infuriating sense of humor, doesn’t it? I, too, had a stomach of steel (and don’t confuse that with abs of steel) when I was younger. I could eat anything and did. Now, I can barely look at certain foods… Oh well. It’s summer and I’m surrounded by fresh fruits and veggies!

  8. When I was young and could eat anything, we rarely ate out because eating out was too expensive. When I was a young single mother and could eat anything and loved to be adventurous, we didn’t eat out much because I was so poor. Now that I’m well-seasoned and could eat out, we don’t because I have eating issues also.
    And that’s the greatest pain of getting older…

  9. Oh Yeh!!

  10. Like squirrels, eh? 🙂

  11. I love your new name. And thanks for the compliment. I’m getting a craving for drunken noodles–my way!

  12. I over do the kindness because it counter acts the 6’3″, 250 lbs, ex-marine look. But sometimes it does not work and they still find me intimidating. This is an accurate account and well told.

  13. LOL!! Gotta watch out for those little ones…small but mighty…

  14. Yeah. I would never go in there alone. But with my former Marine beside me I don’t think she’d stand a chance in hand-to-hand combat. She looks pretty puny. She’s probably pretty quick, though…

  15. Oh, Ursula, where’s the adventure in that? I figure you haven’t lived until you’ve been given the stink-eye from a miffed Thai chef…or maybe you haven’t died until that has happened. Either way, it’s and adventure in dining that makes for a great story!

  16. I’ve done that, too! We’re not picky eaters, we just have highly sensitive and discriminating pallets. 😉

  17. Thanks for your comment–it’s good to know it’s not just ME! 🙂

  18. Lucky you! I’ve been back to our Thai place and so far so good. Maybe she was having a bad day that week! 😉

  19. I can only imagine how hard it must be to eat out!
    We have a Vietnamese restaurant that we eat at often enough that when we walk in they already know what our order will probably be. (That is a mouthful of sentence…) It is very comforting to go there. They treat us like family.

  20. This sounds like me when I eat out. I ask about the sauces – is there flour or yeast or spices? The marinades- Is there spices? They give me a glaring look as if I expect special treatment. I always want to recite a list of all my problems. No gluten – no spices – no meat – no eggs – oh, you can add fresh vegies in place of thet potatoe. It’s a nightmare. I have one restaurant that opened that is gluten free and vegetarian do to the owners allergies but she loves spices. If I ask to illiminate them she loks at me in a strange way too. Could be her chef skills are being threatened. I thought she would understand. Now, I just stick to salad with plive oil and vinegar – balsamic please.
    Great post – glad it isn’t just me. ~~~~ : – )
    Toodles,
    Izzy

  21. Too funny! As a customer who’s asked for no garlic in an Italian restaurant and no chili’s or onions in a Mexican restaurant, I feel your pain.

  22. Lorna, what a noodle. One of the two rules of fine dining: Eat at home. You will know exactly what goes into your dish, and even if do you spit into it at least it’s your own spit.

    U

  23. Oooooooohhh,,,she scares me too!!

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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