Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio | Photo: Teri Dixon/Getty Images

Dear Salty Waitress,

We all suspect it, but how frequently is our restaurant food, ahem, adulterated? And does a customer’s behavior have any impact on the adulteration?

Also, what are the most common ways restaurant staff mess with food?

Serving-People-Icky-Things

Dear SPIT,

To answer your question with as much honesty as possible, I reached out to my network of server and former server friends to see if they’ve ever done something... unsavory to a customer’s meal. Because I, personally, never have.

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Those who know me would tell you that I have anger issues. When people are rude, condescending, generally obnoxious, I have a difficult time not telling them precisely what I think of them. Fortunately, I worked in a restaurant where 99.9 percent of the customers were good people. I was also lucky enough to have managers who stood by their staff and didn’t let people treat their employees like garbage.

So, instead of spitting on someone’s burger, I’d just be extra salty to them and hope my obvious disdain would make them leave faster. It usually worked. I have that sort of face.

While I never clipped my nails over a shepherd’s pie or added a loogie to a gin and tonic, some of my colleague have been driven by bad customers to do some not-so-nice things. Some of them regret it. Others? Not so much.

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Well, I’ll let them speak for themselves:

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Now, every one of the people who weighed in on this made sure to mention one thing: the customers they messed with were the worst of the worst.

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I have to say the comment I most agreed with came from a chef friend of mine. Though I fully understand taking the high ground is not always easy (or fun):

“Never!” she said, when asked whether she’s messed with a meal. “People like that are already miserable! Never a need for me to lower my standards for any reason or anyone!”

If you want to avoid this kind of treatment, SPIT, there’s a pretty simple solution: treat your server like you would your friend, your colleague, your boss. Treat them with respect. Don’t degrade them because they’re working in a restaurant—there’s a good chance they make more money than you do. So get over yourself and be nice. And chances are, you’ll have a phlegm-free dining experience.

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Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com

The Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.