Journalist, author and mum, Veronica Clark: Got a beef with your dinner? Get it in perspective folks
Overreaction of the week goes to a pub in Gloucestershire, where staff pressed a panic button to alert police, who turned up in a riot van, after a customer complained about an overcooked steak.
During the argument a member of staff pressed an alarm button. It alerted the police, who arrived in two cars and a riot van.
The customer claims she was threatened with arrest unless she settled the outstanding £9.99 bill. She was so shaken that she paid up. The landlady explained the police had been called in because the customer had been rude to her staff, saying it had become ‘a situation I couldn’t control.’ I’m sorry love, but if you run a pub then surely you should be able to handle an argument over a tough steak! As a student I worked as both a barmaid and a waitress, and I could spot a tricky customer from a hundred paces. You could always tell the picky ones because they’d complain about everything, from the air-con, to the heat, to the music. There’s just no pleasing some folk. But if the food isn’t right, then it’s not right. However, having been on both sides, I very rarely complain about my food unless it’s absolutely dire. I’ve worked in kitchens, and, to be honest, I’d be worried to send food back for fear of what might happen to it if I did. It takes a lot for me to complain, but I’ve done it when it’s been really necessary.
Once, at a Christmas party, I was served a vegetarian lasagne. It’d tasted lovely right up until the middle, where it was frozen solid. I was heavily pregnant, so I was concerned the partly-cooked food would make me ill. I called the waitress over, but she was extremely rude and acted as if I’d asked her to boil her head. Years later, I was at a children’s party in a ball pit pub. The salad had been served with bread so stale that I couldn’t even get my knife through it, so I asked the waitress if she could bring me some fresh. The chef, who was like Basil Fawlty on a bad day, overheard and shouted at me through the serving hatch. He marched out, slapped down two slices of cheap white bread on my plate with his bare hands, and proceeded to scream in my face. We all thought it was a wind up and half-expected a cameraman to jump out. But it wasn’t. The manager apologised profusely, and offered me a free bottle of wine. I accepted the apology, even though the chef had been rude, aggressive, and had scared the children. I didn’t eat the food, but I let the matter go because that’s what rational people do.
What they shouldn’t do is call in our already overstretched police to deal with something that’s just a storm in a teacup