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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.  

Hey Salty: Recently I took my children to a pizza parlor, one that I usually go to with coworkers on Fridays. Like many parlors, you place your order and pay at a counter and then they bring you your slices. So, same as usual, I made my order, paid, got our slices, ate, and left. On the way to the car, one of the workers came running out and accused me of dining and dashing. He said no one had seen me pay.

Normally I just throw out my receipt after I eat, but I began fumbling in my pockets with visions of being dragged off in handcuffs in front of my children. After manically going through my pockets, I pulled out my wallet and thankfully I had shoved the receipt in there. The guy who accosted me mumbled a “sorry, man,” and went back inside.

I was so upset I was shaking. I felt really embarrassed in front of my children and could not fathom why they would think that someone who regularly goes there would try to run out of a bill for a few dollars with his two small children in tow. I vowed then and there to never return.

But my kids could really not understand what I was getting so bent out of shape about. They really love the pizza there. We live in an area which is devoid of any decent places (all greasy and runny and yucky), so this is their new favorite. When I got home I began writing a terse professional letter explaining to the management there what happened and how it made me feel. I showed a copy to my wife and her opinion was that I was going overboard.

My feeling is: Why should I give them any of my money when I feel I was not treated well? So Salty, did I go overboard about this misunderstanding? My children really want me to swallow my pride and go back (again, I can’t overstate how mediocre other pizza options are). I don’t ever want to go back, but if you say I should just take a Xanax and go back, I will follow your council.

Yours,
Dad Who Didn’t Dine And Dash

Dear Didn’t Dine And Dash,

Jeez, this place needs some new protocols for making sure they keep track of paying customers. Chasing you down and accusing you of stealing is not a good look.

That said, it sounds like your major fear—being humiliated in front of your kids—didn’t actually happen. Your kids said themselves that they don’t really see why you’re getting upset. I bet they wouldn’t even remember this little kerfuffle if you hadn’t been angry over it.

The way I see it, there’s not a right or wrong answer here. What the restaurant did was a mistake. This particular worker had a crappy attitude. The question is, which is stronger: your love of this pizza, or your feelings of being offended? Apply the Salty Algorithm™—give your love of this pizza a number from 1 to 10. Give your hurt feelings a number from 1 to 10. Which number is bigger? (Look, I wasn’t a math major, doll.)

Good pizza, like a good man, can be really hard to find. So when you find one, you gotta hang on to it. But if that man or pizza wrongs you, you put your Clash record, and you ask yourself: Should I stay or should I go?

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Maybe saying something to the manager on your next visit would make you feel better. It could be like therapy—you lay down on one of the pleather booths and talk about how the bad worker made you feel. I bet the manager would be super apologetic, and then maybe you’d get some closure. Or at least a free slice.

If it were me in your shoes, love, I’d go back and give the restaurant a second chance. But I do really, really like pizza.