Most of people who have stuck around since the very beginning of my blogging adventure know that I work as a waitress for quite a long time now. And even though customers can be a pain and sometimes I use every single fibre in my body not to burst out in tears after yet another table being very difficult on a Saturday night I used to love my job. Yes, used to because now I don’t know anymore. I can’t eat before shift because I get so nervous that something can go wrong and every single time when people hold an allergen menu in their hands but want to order from a normal menu I get a heart attack. Let me tell you why.
Restaurants take allergies and food intolerance very seriously, which is great because I’m one of those customers who have to check what actually is in the dish before being able to eat it since I’ve got dairy intolerance and peanut allergy. I don’t have any super serious food allergies but the ones that I’ve got are still pretty annoying (I don’t want to turn red and have itchy skin for weeks, no thanks!). So I’ve been always careful with the food I serve and even though I do joke about offering some bread to gluten free customers those are only jokes – just like I joke about me drinking 1l of milk because I feel like spending next 48 hours on the toilet. Long story short – I do treat allergies, preferences and intolerance very seriously because it is a part of my job. However, I also think that a person with an allergy have to explicitly tell the server about the allergy, intolerance, preference. Otherwise even if you’re just holding an allergen menu – how should we know about your allergies?
One of my tables on a Saturday night after being sat down by I-don’t-remember-who asked me about an allergen menu. In that menu the restaurant I work at has nutritional information, ingredients and allergen information. I handed the menu to the lady and gave them a couple more minutes to shuffle through it and find the information they were interested in. After a while I came up to the table to take their order and was immediately asked about what was in one of the dishes. I listed basic ingredients and asked if she has any other questions because I can also ask the Head Chef about more information. The lady was happy with what I told her and ordered the dish. I brought starters to the table and then the mains. Everything was okay and then she calls me over to ask if the dish is gluten-free. Super confused I look at the dish and then at her – well no, it is not gluten free, why – I ask. In this moment she decides to tell me that she is gluten-free and well, she can’t eat it. I go on to apologise and storm to the kitchen, still panicking. The kitchen made the same dish but this time gluten free and I went to apologise her yet again. She assured me that it is fine and that she didn’t even have a bite because it just didn’t look as it looks at other restaurants so she wanted to double check with me.
Everything seemed to be okay, she spoke to the manager telling her that she told me about the allergy and was still served the wrong dish. The manager offered a free coffee and dessert and everything seemed to be just fine. I apologised again even though I was not informed about the allergy at all but I just felt guilty that I didn’t even think about asking her why she would want to see the allergen menu if she doesn’t want to order from it. I’m not saying that there is not a single bit of my fault in the entire situation. All I’m saying is guys, please, if you have any allergies, intolerance, preference PLEASE tell your server immediately about it so situations like that can be avoided because now I’m in troubles right before my last deadline and I thought so many times about just quitting. The company behaves as if I tried to kill a person with bread because I just felt like it. If not for the support from my co-workers I would have quit the moment I was told that even though there were several other complaints about allergies that got through further than the email I was the one facing the consequences. Yes I didn’t follow the allergen process set out by the company but – how could I do it since I didn’t know about the allergy? I did read the order back to the table and no-one even cared about double checking if the starter and main course is going to be surely gluten-free since I didn’t mention that.
Working in hospitality is hard. Damn, it’s harder than most of people think! It’s physically and mentally draining job where people treat you like a servant not a server. Questions like coming to the UK have you ever thought you’re gonna end up as a waitress? why would your parents let you work for a minimal wage? is it something that you actually enjoy? I don’t believe you. – that’s just my day-to-day life. And yes I used to enjoy the job because of the amount of responsibilities and honestly there is nothing better than an after weeds high because even though you can’t feel your legs everything went just right.
So please please please tell your server about your allergies, intolerance, preference as soon as possible, double check with them and even if you would feel better – ask them to have the manager take your order. It’s going to save our time, not going to result in any stressing situations for the server and no-one is going to end up having an allergic reaction which are not fun.. trust me. If any of those steps would’ve been taken in my case I wouldn’t be stressing out so much, I would avoid having to deal with the situation for weeks and I’d be a much happier human being.