One of the most common questions I am asked is if I have ever spit in anyone's food. The answer is absolutely not. In my 33 years of food service, I swear on a stack of Tiger Beats that never once have I ever been so upset with a customer that I felt the need to take their food and spit in it. That is unprofessional, immature, unsanitary and disgusting and I would never do that to a plate of food. But one time I did spit in a lemonade.
Although I am not proud of this fact, I admit that I stooped to that level. Blame it on youth, blame it on insensitivity or blame it on the rain, but it happened. Black Eyed Pea Highway 290 in Houston, Texas. I was working my regular lunch shift in the late 1970's. One of my tables had four burly truck-driving men at it who no doubt came in to get their daily allowance of fried food and gravy injected into their veins. Now in those days, I was intimidated by men like that with their Wrangler jeans and cowboy hats and all that body hair sprouting from every orifice. They were not being particularly nice to me, but I could tell that they were not particularly nice to anyone else either. They were real men who thought that manners don't matter (they do matter!) and the gruffer they were, the more manly they were. One guy kept sucking down lemonade because he wanted to make sure he took full advantage of the unlimited refills that were available. As I brought another glass to the table, I distinctly heard the word "faggot" followed by deep guttural manly men laughs. When I put the glass down, they all looked at me and abruptly stopped laughing. I knew they were laughing at me. They continued with their non-use of "please" or "thank you" and when it came time for yet another goddamn glass of lemonade, I had had it. Still fuming about the "faggot" remark, I regressed to high school where that moniker was a regular occurrence for me. Some people had nicknames like Skip, Moose, or Boss. Mine was Faggot. Suddenly those four men at table 14 represented every boy in high school who had called me that name. They were the same boys on the school bus who knocked me down and made me cry. They were the same asses who scrawled my name on the bathroom wall saying I gave good head. They were the same punks who slashed my tires at the Homecoming dance. As I filled up that gigantic glass of lemonade, I hocked up a loogie from deep within my tortured soul. The phlegm sat in my mouth as I debated whether or not to follow through on my sudden decision of revenge. Plus, it's harder than you'd think to find a place in a sidestand where you can safely spit into a glass of lemonade without anyone seeing. But I did it. I let the spit drop into the glass and then I stirred it up with the straw and went back to the table.
"Here you are, sir. Is there anything else you need right now?" He grunted. I stepped away and watched him drink his lemonade. What was weird was that I didn't feel better. I felt stupid. It was like I was just as base and as lame as he was. What had come over me that suddenly I wanted to make this one man pay for every wrong that had come my way? I gave them the check, but I took one lemonade off the bill. I knew it didn't really matter, but I did it anyway. I guess it was my apology for something that no one knew anything about.
I have never done that again. One time. That was it. Ironic really, because I am certain that he went on to call many other guys a faggot. I moved on. He probably didn't.
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