UnderCover Waitress: Spit in Food?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spit in Food?

Ask the Waitress!

Message sent to me:

I have a question. Do female waitresses really spit into food or drinks when they have to serve a lousy tipper? I had a waitress. I gave her only 10% tip the one time because i had no more cash. Next time i was there i had white foam in my coke and a slimy piece of anything. Looked like a loogy and loads of spit but i could not believe it. 
Let me know what you think.

I must admit, my first reaction is to the "female waitresses." It is unclear whether the writer assumes that male waiters do or do not spit in food, but truly, gender has nothing to do with it. 

If any server were to behave in such an unprofessional manner, losing her job would be the least of it. Spitting in somebody else's food is a "tort." The Free Online Dictionary defines "tort" as a "wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another. Torts include all negligence cases as well as intentional wrongs which result in harm."

Torts may be civil or criminal or both. To be tried in a criminal court, a criminal law must have been broken. You may certainly claim Assault for having spit deposited in your food, and Battery if you ate or drank the spit. If she was sick and knowingly made you sick, it ups the ante.

Because the waitress is working under the aegis of the employer, the employer is responsible for her behavior while working. Therefore, you may sue the employer (who probably has more money than the waitress.) Employers do not want employees who are committing torts against customers. It's bad for business and can be extremely expensive. 

In civil courts, you sue the spitter for damages. If you did not eat or drink the spit, then damages may be limited to the cost of the meal and emotional distress. If the waitress were sick and infected you (and you can reasonably prove it,) you may sue her for your medical costs. (She probably won't have the money, so you would go after her employer.) 

So you see, spitting in food is extremely serious. If a customer really believes this has happened, he should immediately show the manager. If he is convinced and the manager is unconcerned, he could wrap the offending food (or "loogy") in a paper napkin and pay a lab to test it... if he wanted to. 

My personal take on the whole thing is that horror stories of spitting in food have become an urban legend. It may be much more rare than assumed. I know of one incident that a friend told me about a long time ago. Their place of business had to remain open to accommodate a bunch of twenty-somethings that sat around drinking free water. Let me be perfectly clear: they ordered nothing the entire time. They required the waitress to constantly come back with more free water, but ordered absolutely nothing. As they finally left, they were informed that the waitress had spat in their glasses. To the best of my knowledge, nothing ever came of it. 

The other impression I have gotten over the years is that this type of crime is more likely to happen, if at all, in fast food establishments. 

Any chef running his own restaurant would likely draw and quarter an employee who defiled the food. 

I found two other missives written on this subject that readers may find of interest. The first agrees with me that there is a bit of paranoia out there, and waitresses and waiters are not retaliating against obnoxious customers with bodily fluid. The second writer is not so sure. I will leave it to all of you to decide what you think. 

In closing, if you truly believe somebody has tampered with your food, talk to the manager. And don't eat there -- yuck. 

Edited to remove reference to HIV. 



  1. Hey, just an FYI- saliva does not contain a sufficient amount of HIV to infect a person. The server would probably have to literally bleed into or somehow or the other input an equally unsavory intimate bodily fluid into the food.

    Also, the stomach is not a very hospitable environment for HIV- a bit on the acidic side, ya know!

  2. Thanks for commenting, Phale. I'm no expert when it comes to HIV, but I have a good background and understanding of ethics. Perhaps we can all agree that spitting in food is bad...? :-P

  3. When I was a teen, my first job was McDonalds. We played with the food, a lot. This 'discovery' turned me away from fast food for many years. Now, when I eat out, I do so with 'prayer'. ;}

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. spitting is pretty much the lowest of the low...people who do that have no creativity at all...yes there are much better ways at "getting even" with a customer who you feel wronged you (none of which include bodily fluids)

  6. To add to what A said, there is also the choice to rise above it and do such a good job that the manager notices, or to stay under the radar while sticking it to a cheap customer. I have regulars who tip all of us 10%, every time. They have "usuals." With me, they must repeat their usual every time.


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