Last week after swimming with the dolphins for my wife’s birthday, we stopped for lunch at one of our favorite beachside restaurants. It was a gorgeous, sunny, gentle breezy, not-too-humid day, so we sat outside in the shade. Wahoo was the catch of the day, so I had that grilled in a sandwich. My wife chose the ceviche.
My food was excellent. But my wife pushed her plate over towards me and asked, “Does this taste right to you?” I took a bite and knew exactly why she asked. The shrimp had a very strange consistency. It wasn’t overcooked and rubbery. It wasn’t undercooked and translucent. It was kind of tasteless, with the consistency of tofu. I Answered, “No, I don’t think you should eat that.” We put it aside and I gave her half of my sandwich.
When the waiter came by to check on us, he noticed we were sharing the fish and asked if everything was tasting OK. We looked at each other and said that we were our meals. I don’t know why, but we were reluctant to say anything. We never, ever send food back at a restaurant. We felt awkward and embarrassed to complain about the food.
Towards the end of our meal, one of the floor managers came over to make sure everything was good, as they typically do at this restaurant. Again, I hesitated, but said, “I hate to complain, but I think there’s something wrong with this shrimp. It just doesn’t taste right.” He didn’t taste it, but thanked me, said he would take it off our bill, and let the chef know, too. He said, “We count on your feedback for quality control. Thank you for saying something.”
Thinking back over that moment, I wonder why we’re so reluctant to speak up about something like that. We both had a little work experience in food service, so maybe we just didn’t want to be one of those who are demanding, hard to please and quick to complain. We know how hard restaurant staff works and didn’t want to be the cause of a bad day for them.
I like to eat and there’s not much I don’t like, so this was a rare day in my life. Maybe that’s why it was uncomfortable. This was unknown territory.