Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dear John (Taco John)

I am very, very sorry to be writing this letter; I would rather be talking to you personally, but to "add insult to injury" tonight, you did not answer your phone when I just called, and I am hopping mad! John, when I got food poisoning from Taco Bell years ago, I said goodbye and never looked back. The doctor had told me that loose meat sitting in warmers all day is more likely to develop ecoli than frozen patties, so I decided to avoid fast-food "Mexican." You charmed me, though, John, when you moved to town and I tasted your delicious Potato Ole's. We've been an item ever since. My Honda knows your drive-thru lane like the back of her sport scoop, and I think she whimpered a little when I parked her tonight to go inside and order from the counter. (I had to powder my nose.)

John, Kyle and I walked into your fast food heaven hell about an hour ago. As we approached the counter, we observed your not-so-busy and a bit sloppy-looking friend (we'll call him "Jim") in the food prep area, texting on his cellphone. The first thing I thought was, "Yikes. I hope he's not making our food." But alas, when the counter person took our order, Jim stuffed his phone in his pocket, stepped up to the taco prep area, and began making our order, with his bare hands. Alarmed, I said, "Um, those better not be my tacos! He was just texting on his phone, and now he's making my food? That's gross. Wait. Maybe those are his?" (I was giving him the benefit of the doubt; it was dinner time. Maybe he was on his break?)

The counter person went back to Jim and said something to him. He slumped off. Returning to us, she assured me, "Yes. Those were for him." A different worker (a teenage girl, also with bare hands) began preparing our order.

I winced, "Wait a second. You don't wear gloves to prepare the food here?!?" She replied,"I know. I thought that was kind of weird too at first, but we have plenty of hand sanitizer back there; we're constantly washing our hands." (Except the guy with the cellphone, apparently.)

At this point, I saw the girl pick up the tacos that Jim had made and prepare to assemble Kyle's Taco Bravo.

"Wait! Wait! She's using the tacos he made! I'm sorry, but that's disgusting! If those were his, why did he leave them there?!" Counter Lady goes back to her and says, "Stop. Make new ones." "Why?" asks the girl, confused.

I'd had enough. "You know what? I'm done. I can't do this. I don't want the food anymore," I said, but Counter Lady placated me, assuring me that, "It's fine. It's fine. She's starting over." Uncharacteristically, I caved, took our order, and left. At least my delicious Potato Ole's were cooked in boiling hot grease and too hot to handle. I was sad about eating my last meal from your place, Taco John, but I knew I couldn't eat there any more after tonight.

Halfway home, I noticed the bag was open. I said to Kyle, "Close the bag; I don't want my Potato Ole's to get cold." He leaned over and looked inside the bag. Guess what?

No Potato Oles.

That was the final hit to our pinata, John. We're through.

Very, Very Sadly,

[Update: Here's the response I got from my complaint letter to the Health Department:

Hello Barb,

Thanks for contacting the Brown County Health Department. Food service employees must wear gloves while actually touching ready to eat foods. If they are using utensils, tissues, wrappings etc, they do not need to use gloves. It sounds in this case they should have been using gloves. I will talk to them about this issue.

Once again, thanks for the info.

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