mold is good… it’s the stuff that makes penicillin, right?

Sorry I haven’t been around a lot this weekend, but our friends Andy and Patti just loaned us every episode of the UPN series Veronica Mars, the classic Ed Wood film Plan 9 from Outer Space just entered the public domain by way of the Internet Archive, and the baby and I started swimming classes. (They closed off one half of the pool while we were there, marching around in a circle and dunking the babies while singing about the Grand Old Duke of York, when something “poop-like” was seen scooting across the bottom. I still don’t get the logic of clearing half the pool, as we were all still in the same water with it, but I’m not a professional lifeguard. (Linette says they moved us just so no one would step on it.)) I also think I ingested a ton of mold while eating at The Bomber, and that caused me to spend a good part of yesterday curled up in a ball of panic, just waiting for the diseases to start manifesting themselves.

I don’t want to criticize The Bomber. I eat there quite a bit, and I like the staff. And, up until yesterday, they’d never tried to pull a Yuschenko on me.

I don’t think you have to have OCD to appreciate the shock of finding two, little blotches of mold on the last piece of french toast as it enters your mouth. I think that’s got to cause universal recoil, the way that finding half a worm in an apple must… So, I notice these two furry, blue spots on the side of the toast. I considered running out into the parking lot and throwing up, but decide that it probably wouldn’t help anyway, as most of it had already made it’s way through my digestive tract, sped along by the coffee… So, I sat there, just staring at the mold, until our waitress came over. I told her what had happened and suggested that they might want to look at the other bread, just to make sure no one else was being served mold. I didn’t ask for my money back, or anything like that, but when she left, she took not only the toast, but our bill. A minute or so later, she reappeared to tell me that the manager had looked at it, determined that it wasn’t mold, and that she wouldn’t be removing it from my check. She handed the check back to me. (The bread, I assume, had been disposed of.)

I said, “So, what was it… in the manager’s opinion?” She told me that, “something must have fallen into the batter,” which didn’t make me feel a whole lot more comfortable, but we paid our bill and left, and I felt queasy for the rest of the morning as I wondered just how much mold I’d ingested… And, yes, I know mold when I see it. I’m an adult, and I’ve experienced moldy bread before. Before giving it to her, I’d split the bread in the middle of one of the spots and I could clearly see the purple-blue fuzz spreading out like a virus toward the center.

I don’t like to use this site as a stump from which to criticize local businesses. There are certainly some things I could say about other places, but I don’t think it would be in the best interest of our community. What pissed me off about this, however, isn’t that there was mold in the food, but that my suggestion to check the rest of the bread wasn’t taken seriously. It might seem like a little point, but it’s important to me. And, I didn’t like the inference that I was just pointing it out in order to have it taken off of my bill. I’ve spent lots and lots of money there over the past few years, and, until this incident, I’ve never said a thing. In spite of that, however, they gave the impression that I’d just pointed out the mold in order to get the $5 taken off my bill. It wasn’t good customer service.

So, how should they have handled it? Well, I would have done one of two things. I would have checked the bread in the back. If there was mold, I would have thrown the bread away, and thanked the customer for spotting it. I would have also apologized and comped the entire bill, but that’s just me. If, however, there was no mold on the bread in the kitchen, I would have brought the loaf out, shown it to the customer and said, “I don’t know what those spots were, but I don’t think they were mold.” I might have even suggested that the discoloration had been caused by blueberries that were being used in the pancakes, which are also cooked on that same grill. I would have handed the bill back to the customer, and thanked him for bringing it to my attention. What I wouldn’t have done, however, is just tell the customer that it wasn’t mold…

I can’t believe I just wrote three paragraphs on that… especially when there are so many more interesting local things we could be talking about, like the lovefest blossoming on Bretts’s site for local scumloard David Kircher, or the fact that our city is adopting a 1% income tax. But, no, I’d rather spend my time complaining about the mold in my french toast.

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  1. ChelseaL
    Posted July 17, 2005 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I think it’s a perfectly valid complaint. What a bum that manager was. Don’t expect to see *me* in his (her?) crummy joint! Right you are: things happen. A decent manager will take responsibility and try to make it right. Unhappily, though, too often, we’re afraid to admit liability. Often, honesty only harms the truthful party, sad to say.

    Reminds me of the director of the day camp I once worked for: tried to tell us the pool was green because of the surrounding trees! One Monday morning, the pool was blue again. I suggested that maybe a few trees had been cleared over the weekend.

    And, um, forgive me for asking, but: why the parking lot?

  2. Posted July 17, 2005 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Fwiw, I think that blogs should be used for just that sort of thing. I eat there sometimes although rarely (I am more of a Luca’s person). I probably will still eat there but you can bet I’ll eye my french toast or sandwich VERY closely before eating it. And I agree, they handled it very badly.

  3. mark
    Posted July 17, 2005 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why I said “parking lot”, Chelsea. Maybe it has to do with my dislike of public restrooms.

    And, Lynne, I’ve never been to Luca’s, but I’ve noticed that their parking lot is usually pretty full. I’ll give it a shot someday. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Posted July 17, 2005 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    At my place of business its pretty much the customers word is law in those particular matters. If a customer phones and says the chicken was off, its off. If they say they’re lambroast was tough, insist on bringing it to show us and we can clearly see it was horribly and abusively overcooked we refund their money.
    If that jerky guy walks in, yet again, with less than 1/2 of his gallon of milk dated a week ago (which means he bought it OVER a week ago) I give him another. He seems to have moved though.
    But they won’t put up with people being abusive to them or the employees. Which I agree they shouldn’t. I think it’s a good way to run a business and it certainly seems to work well for them, both in terms of customer and employee loyalty.

  5. Tony Buttons
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t mold found to be responsible for the outbreak of witchery in Salem? Mold and midwifes. That’s what I’ve heard.

  6. anonymatt
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Tony, you’re thinking of ergot, which grows on grain kernels before they’re baked into bread or otherwise used, and contains compounds similar to LSD. I don’t think it’s been *proven* as the cause of the stuff in Salem, but it’s been linked to similar hysterias before.

  7. travis john
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I just enjoyed a meal at the (relatively) new Stoney Creek Coney Island on Whittaker Rd. Three beers and a veggie omlette later, I give it my full endorsement.

  8. ChelseaL
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    OK, Mark. That’s what I thought. I don’t like ’em, either, though I’m no great fan of parking lots.

    And I agree absolutely with Lynne about using blogs for just this kind of thing. I wish that, in my work, I got to tell hundreds of readers about, say, the way Honda salesmen treated me for having the nerve to buy one of their cars. But, normally, it doesn’t work that way.

  9. Posted July 18, 2005 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    the mold has moved onto your website. i am in fear of it now…

  10. mark
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I like the “kegs ‘n eggs” idea, and I’ve wondered, while eating at Stoney Creek, about ordering a pitcher of Bud Light to wash down my hashbrowns, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Drinking all night and into the day, I think, is OK, but waking up and drinking? I think that’s just sick.

    Speaking of drinking, earlier tonight, I drank away a panic attack. I didn’t think it would work, but it did… I think I’m on the road to recovery.

  11. mark
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    That has to be the meanest thing anyone has ever done to me, Kez.

    You will burn in a cake of fire for that!

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