People are pretty particular when it comes to food. Restaurant managers implement rules that don't pan out. Grocery stores have policies that actually hurt customer service. All in all, there are lots of times that food-related rules don't work out as expected.
Here are all the best stories from Reddit about food-related rules that ended up backfiring. Content has been edited for clarity.
The Dangers Of Grilled Cheese
“In my dorm, if you did something that triggered the smoke/fire alarm, you had to do a safety presentation for everyone on your floor. This was intended to deter pranksters from pulling the alarm. A guy on our floor was making grilled cheese in the kitchenette, and burned it, which legitimately triggered the fire alarm. Afterward, he explained, assuming that since it had been a legitimate alarm, and not a prank, that he wouldn’t have to do a presentation. He was, of course, wrong.
So, the next Wednesday night, the entire floor assembled. We were treated to a thirty-minute safety presentation on the dangers of grilled cheese sandwiches. It contained literally nothing about fire safety. It was all choking hazards and cholesterol.
Our RA was furious, but the student pointed out that the write-up that he’d been given just said ‘safety presentation.’
We didn’t get any more presentations after that.”
No Teamwork Allowed
“I worked maintaining a salad bar at a chain restaurant that very proudly advertised its salad bar. On really busy shifts, like Saturday dinner or Sunday lunch, they’d have two people working on it. With so many items and people, we quickly determined that the best way to handle it was to have one person in the kitchen making as many dishes of ingredients as possible, and the other person taking them out as they emptied on the salad bar. At peak times, this would keep both people constantly working and barely keeping up.
Well, the boss got a bit upset and told us one person had to stay up front at all times, in order to help customers and help the place look maintained. So instead of two workers rushing around and struggling to keep the place barely maintained, you’d have one guy just standing by the salad bar and smiling. Even as things ran out and people started asking about them.
And because the only radios we had weren’t clear and picked up the messages of a nearby restaurant, there was no way to tell the person in the back what was missing. Items would run out and there was no guarantee when it would be brought out. We didn’t even wait for the boss to get mad at us for not ‘staying at our post’ and just settled for ignoring his advice.”
They Wanted Them To Hurry So They Did
“I worked as a bag boy at a grocery store. We always had 1-2 buggies of return items to be put back on the shelves each night. Despite being slow the last hour and only needing one bagger up front, they would not allow us to do the return buggies until five minutes before closing.
We shoved so much stuff underneath the shelves each night just to leave on time.”
A Sign Can Never Be Too Clear
“There was only one Chinese buffet in Jacksonville, Arkansas when I lived there. The airforce base where I was stationed was right down the road, so we used to visit this establishment for lunch quite often. At one point, a sign was posted in the bathroom that tissues must be thrown in the trash. What they intended was for people to stop throwing paper towels in the trash.
What happened was people started throwing their poo-covered toilet paper in the wastebasket. Later on, the ’tissue’ was crossed out and ‘paper towels’ was written in pen as a replacement. Going in to use the toilet and finding the trash can full of crap was quite eye-opening.”
“I used to work at a grocery store. In the employee handbook, it read that men had to wear a tie, and women could wear a broach. I had this nifty Canadian flag pin that was pretty small and I hated wearing ties. So, I put that on my shirt. I wore it on my shirts for two years, no one said a thing.
Then, I got pulled to the side by a new manager. She told me I had to wear a tie. I told her I had a Canadian flag pin on my shirt, it was in the employee/Union handbook. She said that broaches were for women and men needed to wear a tie. I said, ‘Well that sounds a little discriminatory, call the union rep and set up a meeting about this and we’ll get it squared away.’
I never heard a thing from her after that.”
Moving And Shaking To A Different Bar
“I used to wait tables in college. It was a very popular hangout for business professionals, movers and shakers, etc. The restaurant/bar was always very busy and the ‘in’ place to be. After work the staff would frequently drink in the bar. We paid full price for drinks and any food we ate. We shared tables, danced and socialized with the patrons and everyone was happy. Except for the owners.
The owners decided we were cluttering up the place and ‘reserved’ a special table for us. It was upstairs behind the dirty laundry pickup station. So we all decided we really didn’t need to spend our money there if we weren’t wanted. We moved to another bar for our after-hours fun. We took all those movers and shakers with us.
The restaurant went out of business about six months later.”
Hacking The System
“I work at a restaurant that bases workers’ hours on how good of scores we get on the surveys we offer at the end of every meal. The survey is offered on the tablets at the table used to pay on. That means kids wind up filling them out half the time. So, genuinely good servers wind up with bad scores due to problems like that. One of the servers realized the survey that is offered on the tablets is the same as the one that’s listed at the bottom of the receipt.
They shared this information with everyone else and we wound up doing all our own surveys. The managers still don’t know but are happy that their store is doing so well.”
“Back in the early 90s, I worked for a restaurant chain famous for flair and suspenders. We waiters were mystified when management declared we would no longer have access to milk. They decided the staff were drinking it. We were actually drinking coke, coffee, anything caffeinated we could get our hands on. With the new policy, we had to go to the bartender and wait behind all the drink orders to get milk for kids. You can imagine how thrilled parents at the ‘kids eat free’ tables were to wait 20 minutes for their kids to get a glass of milk.
That lasted 2-3 weeks before they realized how dumb that policy was.”
A Little Waste Turned Into A Lost Job
“I used to work at Sams Club in their cafe. Around closing time, we would throw all the food away and start cleaning up. Sometimes the food was so stale we couldn’t sell it, so we would close a few minutes early to prevent people from buying up the nasty food. Our cafe manager caught wind of this, took everyone into the back room, and screamed at us for closing early. She implemented a new rule that basically dictated that we could not log out of our registers until 8:30 on the dot, and we had to prepare fresh food 10 minutes before closing.
So for the next few months, we prepared fresh food just before closing, and maybe one or two customers would come along. For the most part, we were throwing away more food than before. Our club manager came by and asked us why our inventory was so low every week. We told him that we had to prepare an extra batch of food every evening that never got bought, and the morning shift people would restock the normal amount of food for the day.
He was visibly upset. Our sales were lower than ever, apparently. We were told to stop following this rule immediately.
The cafe manager then got into a fight with the club manager, and the next week we were all expecting a new cafe manager.
But nope. All of us were given the option of changing clubs or switching to a different position. They were closing the cafe for good.
I quit right then and there.”
Fast And Furious Checkout
“I used to work at the PCC grocery store in Seattle. When you were in the check stand, they would time your ‘items per minute.’ Then, the store manager would post a bar chart in the break room so the employees would see how they compared to one another. There would be a personal message from the store manager saying that the people with the lowest scores could start looking for work at Walmart.
So, the checkers came up with a solution to the situation. The clock started once you scanned or rang the first item, it would pause if you hit subtotal on the register, start again when scanning/ringing commenced and stopped when subtotal was hit again. Checkers would stage the customer’s groceries and then scan items individually and rapidly as possible. Ringing twelve of the same item would count as one item, so it was better to rapidly scan each item. The top checker had it down. She would fling things across the scanner. Sometimes they would fly off the counter and a bagger clerk would retrieve them from the floor. Once she hit the subtotal button, the clock would stop and she would go into second gear and have a relaxing conversation with the customer. I don’t think she actually checked people out any faster than the rest of us, she just had the system down.”
Disrupting The Guests
“I used to work in a decent size chain restaurant. It was an open kitchen so customers could see and hear everything the kitchen staff did. One day, I came in to find a note taped above the hand wash sink that read:
‘When returning to the kitchen after coming in from the bathroom or a smoke break, you must wash your hands and declare “On The Line” when returning to your station.’
Me being the jerk that I am, I would shout, ‘ON THE LINE!’ as loudly as I could every time I came back in.
Three days later, the note was reposted with an amendment that read: ‘This is not meant to be disruptive to the guests.'”
Great Lengths To Keep The Party Going
“A buddy of mine told me about a happy hour promotion a bar ran close to his campus. Apparently, the special was something stupid like 50-cent drinks that lasted until the first person went to the bathroom.
As he tells it, the first few weeks went without incident. Once it got more popular, people were going to extreme lengths to not be ‘that guy.’ This included wearing adult diapers. Once people tried to covertly pee in corners and trash cans, the bar canceled the promotion.”
Skirting The Issue
“My last job got a new facility head. She didn’t like the fact that we wore shorts in a kitchen in the summer when the temperatures would get over 100 degrees. She made a new rule that shorts weren’t allowed, but skirts were fine. My supervisor told me I didn’t have the stones to wear a skirt to work, I am a male. Guess who showed up to work the next day in a skirt?
The new rule lasted about a month before the new leader got tired of ‘cross-dressers’ running around the facility. Once I started it, all the other guys started wearing skirts as well. I do not miss that place.”
Cafeteria Or Prison?
“They made a new rule where students had to ask permission to use the restroom during lunch.
We all coordinated and the whole cafeteria would raise their hands at once to request to go. They responded by sending us two at a time. We did this for a few days then changed our procedure to everyone just getting up at once and going to the restroom without permission.
They didn’t ever officially do away with the rule, but the teachers on duty in the lunch room eventually just stopped enforcing it.”
“I used to work at a fast food place where the owner made employee meals discounted 10% instead of free like they were at most of the other stores in the area. There was one store about an hour away that wasn’t free but their employee meal was discounted 50%. When I started working there, I was not willing to pay for the food so I would just make it, eat it, and not ring it up. Everyone started doing it.
Eventually, the owner assumed that was happening. So, he said anyone who worked had to leave a receipt in the register at the end of the shift with their employee discount on it to prove they paid. He literally thought he could force us to eat every shift.
Easy fix. Every shift I would give some random person my employee discount and I’d still eat for free. Once again everyone else started doing this.
The owner was later fired when the franchise found out that he wasn’t using certain food that he was supposed to. He’d buy it cheaper from local grocers. I guess there was an anonymous tip to corporate…”
Just Following Orders
“I used to work at a burger chain called Freddy’s, this one was brand new. On the first day of work, they were telling all of us in the kitchen that no matter how busy we are, you have to make eye contact and greet every customer that comes in with, ‘Hi, welcome to Freddy’s.’ Like Cici’s Pizza does.
I didn’t do it and they kept getting on to me. So, I finally started greeting customers. Anytime a customer walked in, I dropped whatever I was doing to shout loudly while jumping up as high as I could, flailing my arms wildly, ‘HI! WELCOME TO FREDDY’S!’ Not even an hour later, the owner said no more greeting customers.”
An Easy Rule To Break
“During my senior year of high school, the principal enacted a rule that if you came in more than 10 minutes late and you had a beverage on you, you had to throw it out. This was intended to stop students from coming in late because they were at the drive-thru.
The security guard who signed in late students even had a giant trash barrel to collect said drinks.
Apparently, the principal didn’t think of this amazing fancy device known as a ‘backpack.’ People used them to temporarily hide the drink until they were past the security desk. Additionally, some students would just finish their drink before they walked into the building.”
Creative Ways Around New Rules
“At the company I used to work for, we had a couple big trade shows per year that we went to, which most of the staff attended. For a long time, the rule was that you could be reimbursed up to $30 per day for meals – you just had to turn in receipts afterward.
Well, inevitably somebody decided that he would spend his per diem every day for a week on drinks and turn those receipts in. He got reimbursed, but there was a new policy implemented. From there on out, you could only submit two ‘drinks’ per day for reimbursement. I think you can probably figure out where this is going.
Some fought the rule by simply going to ‘dinner’ late, getting their check before the clock struck midnight, then opening a new tab, allowing them to have more than two drinks on the company in a single sitting. But that was for amateurs. The rules didn’t specify your receipts had to be from some kind of restaurant. People would often go to the grocery store to buy snacks, protein bars to nosh on during the day if they couldn’t grab lunch, and whatnot.
It turned out that you can get two big 1.75-liter plastic bottles from the bottom shelf at the store AND order off the Value Menu at the McDonalds drive through for less than $30.”