At the start of the year, I discontinued the scoreboard feature of Weird Restaurant Stories. The scoreboard was designed to show that certain parts of the country had far more weirdness occurring in them than others. What was discovered is that there is something in the Atlantic Ocean that leads to far more strangeness than in other parts of the country. Judging from this week’s stories, that weirdness is spreading. One state kept popping up when I was looking at this week’s stories. Oklahoma, this is your week.
This week a full third of the stories that made the cut came from Oklahoma. Let’s go ahead and run through the headlines.
The most tragic restaurant story of the week is without question an incident that happened in OKC. A server was loading a dumbwaiter as it malfunctioned. This pulled her in and took her with it to the basement. She died three days later as a result of the incident. It was later revealed that because this equipment is not used to transport people, it was not inspected like an elevator would be. Serving should not be a deadly occupation and this inspection loophole should be addressed immediately. (Oklahoma City, OK)
I usually throw something into tip jars because I am a server and believe in tip karma. I also recognize that this is not the norm. So when a customer decided to rob a restaurant, he probably miscalculated by taking the money in the tip jar rather than what was in the register. There is a reward in this case that I would assume is greater than the amount in the jar. I say they give the reward to the employees and everyone walks away happy. (Oklahoma City, OK)
An SUV crashed into a Domino’s Pizza in OKC. This would normally be excluded from this column because it tends to happen somewhere in the country every week. This story is exceptional for a couple reasons. It appears the driver never even attempted to hit the brakes. She was also charged with a DUI. No one was injured because the restaurant was not open. If this happened at 3 am, it wouldn’t surprise me. The fact that it happened shortly before 9 am makes it far more entertaining. The pet grooming center next door rounded up animals to put in a van to keep them from escaping. I don’t know about you, but the mental image I have of this incident is hilarious. (Oklahoma City, OK)
Tulsa did not want to be completely left out of the fun. A man in his twenties exposed himself to some employees of a Sonic location. Eh, not that great of a story. Did I mention it was all caught on tape? Then the tape got played on the news. The real clincher for me was that the story has pictures of him that are labeled “click to enlarge.” From the looks of it, the guy would prefer there was a far higher magnification when someone took this option. (Tulsa, OK)
Let’s hope the weirdness in Oklahoma stays there.
The Atlantic still has a weirdness producing effect. Last year’s weirdest state, Florida, brings us another tale of restaurant theft. In this case, it wasn’t money the crooks were after. Two spring breakers got the brilliant idea to steal an alligator from a restaurant. I have seen any number of things stolen from restaurants, but this is definitely a first for me. (Panama City, FL)
Maryland is thinking of opening up their restaurants to a new clientele; dogs. The legislature is debating a measure that would make it the fourth state to allow dogs to dine in outdoor seating areas. Frankly, I have enough problems looking out for kids running through restaurants. Walking around dogs, random water bowls on the ground, and tripping over leashes, does not strike me as a server’s dream. (Baltimore, MD)
A 2% tax on food and lodging is going up for a referendum in D’Iberville, MS. Proponents hope this tax will raise $18 million for city improvements. The population of this town is slightly over 7,500 people. This means that these improvements would cost around $2,500 per person. In order for the restaurant tax to raise that much money, every man, woman, and child in the town would have to spend just over $120,000 in the town’s restaurants and hotels. This is almost five times the average annual income for adults in the town. Someone needs to check the batteries in the calculators, because these numbers don’t add up. (D’Iberville, MS)
Celebrities and athletes can sometimes try the patience of restaurant managers. The Detroit Tiger’s Miguel Cabrera took it a step further. He came into Cowboys BBQ and Steak Co after the restaurant closed. The manager explained that he had to leave. Cabrera’s response was to threaten to kill all the employees and blow up the restaurant. He was arrested a short time later for allegedly driving under the influence. Stay classy Miguel, stay classy. (St Lucie, FL)
Most restaurants have a lost and found. Guests will leave everything in a restaurant from sunglasses to their leftovers. I am guilty of it myself. Of course I have never forgotten the $20,000 cash I brought into a restaurant. This happened at a restaurant recently. The server found the money and quickly turned it over to the police. It turns out the guest was a professional black jack player and rewarded the honest server with a $1,000 tip. (Bristol, CT)
That is all for this week. Before I go, I want to mention a few things. First, take a moment to consider the devastation that occurred in Japan this week. I know it is tough here, but if you have the means to help out I hope you will consider it. Second, be careful out there. Reporting on tragedies like the first story is something I hope to never have to do again. Be safe and report any dangerous situations to your managers. We all have to look out for ourselves and each other.