Dear last night’s waiter: I’m gluten free. You’re an a**hole.


Dear last night’s waiter:

I’m gluten-free…but with all due respect, you’re an asshole. I understand you were busy last night. And i understand it was a Saturday night. And I understand that you want to turn as many tables as possible in the course of an evening (yes…I used to wait tables).

But what was my sin that caused you to cop such a major attitude?

Oh…that’s right. I made the grave mistake of telling you that I had celiac disease. And when you didn’t know what it was and I told you it was a severe gluten allergy, that was the beginning of the end. Note: I know celiac is not an allergy, but “severe allergy” is easier to understand than “an autoimmune disease where the villi get flattened due to the ingestion of wheat, barley and rye”, don’t you think?

So you had to make a few extra trips to the kitchen to talk to the chef. So you had to take my “special” order. What’s the big deal? Why the eye-rolls? Seriously, you were a total tool.

Believe me…I’m as understanding as they come when it comes to dealing with people with my condition. We celiacs hate having to explain to you what we can and can’t have twice as much as you hate having to hear it.

But how about showing a little courtesy? A little heart? A little professionalism? Your job is to take my order, serve my food and make sure I don’t get violently ill. And I don’t mean that in a degrading kind of way. I have all the empathy and respect for anybody in public service. Dealing with people all day/night can be a real drag. But for now, it’s the path you’ve chosen.

So do me and all of your future customers a favor. Educate yourself a bit. People with celiac disease are not on a diet. We’re not trying to lose weight. We’re not part of the new, hip eating fad. And we’re certainly not trying to be difficult. Spend a day with me and see what we celiacs go through on a daily basis. It can be pretty tough. So when we go out, we’re honestly not looking for special attention. We’re not looking to take up too much of your time. Just hear us out and keep us healthy.

And no, that’s doesn’t mean simply scraping the onion rings off my plate when I remind you I can’t have them. But thanks for the big effort just the same.

I like your restaurant. And I’m sure you’re a decent guy who was just having a bad night. We’ve all had them. And if you’re my waiter again, I’ll give you the complete benefit of the doubt. But if you give me the eye roll again, it ain’t gonna be pretty.


The Gluten Dude

P.S. Sorry for the crappy tip. I’ll get ya next time.

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34 thoughts on “Dear last night’s waiter: I’m gluten free. You’re an a**hole.”

  1. I’ve had to develop relationships with the proprietors of restaurants in order to be guaranteed food that is safe for me to eat. I frequent a sushi restaurant in which I had to change the way I ordered food after I was diagnosed. The manager ran with it and trained her staff on GF food preparation. I’ve never gotten sick after eating there. One restaurant down…hundreds to go!

      1. Yes, it’s nice to have one place where they’re looking out for me (much the way I’ve looked after them financially for the last 6 years, ha ha ha). They’ve even got to the point where they’ll point out foods that I can’t have and refuse to serve it to me because there’s a small risk of cross-contamination. 🙂

  2. I was in Disneyworld last week and if you tell them no gluten, most of the places I went to give you your own chef! One chef ninja-ed out of no where to almost knock the fork out of my friend’s hand who was trying to offer me a bite of something with gluten. It was really an awesome experience to feel that protected 🙂

  3. whenever i experience a waiter with an attitude, i ask for the manager and explain to him why i want a different waiter to serve me

    much easier than suffering in silence or dealing with a fool….

  4. I had a manager come to me in a restaurant and said to me, I understand what you are going through.(Internally I’m rolling my eyes at him). I shake my head politely to him. Turns out his wife has had celiac for 15 years and was violently sick until diagnosis. He assured me that the food that is cooked for someone with a “gluten allergy” doesn’t come anywhere close to any other food. It has it’s own grill, fryer, etc. That for once was reassuring to hear, and for once I left a restaurant feeling good, not doubled over in pain.
    So thank you Red Robin for doing a good job.
    Another manager at the same restaurant came up to me with a binder of food that was gluten free at their restaurant.

  5. I think you are being to soft on the waiter. If he cannot treat all customers with respect and show some understanding then he shouldn’t be doing the job. I would have wrote to the manager as going out for a meal (being a celiac) is hard enough without having to deal with waiters with attitude. You are paying for that rude service.

  6. In defense of waiters…a few extra trips to the kitchen is money out of their pocket. They are ignoring other tables and slowing do the service to other guests, which mean their tables turn slower and they make less money. Also that waiter most likely had to pay out a slew of other people, and usually that is based on the costs of what you ordered not how much you left him as a tip.
    I have been in the industry for a long time, and can count on one hand the amount of times I have been tipped extra for the time required to handle the multiple runs to talk to the chef, who will most likely treat you rather poorly for talking to him/her multiple times.
    The waiter should not have rolled their eyes, and should have been more understanding of your situation, I absolutely agree with that. I just ask that you be understanding of theirs. Most of those in my profession do everything we can to treat every guest with respect and understanding, even when you do pay us for it.
    I will say I have worked at places that go out of their way to deal with food allergies, but those places usually cost extra. I can’t defend a server who treats a guest poorly, but I can say that you will find a majority are not of his ilk.

  7. I wait tables. The thing is that a lot of people who request gluten free are not even allergic, it’s just a fad diet like the Atkins, South Beach, etc…I remember a few years ago we had to modify the menu for the huge demand for low carb. At that time, no one came into the restaurant claiming they had to stay away from gluten. Now, the Atkins has gone the way of the macarena dance and now all of a sudden everybody and their mother are allergic to gluten. Don’t get me wrong, it is a customer’s right to demand gluten free whether they are allergic or not, and the waiter should have kept his anger to himself, I just think most waiters are tired of these diet bandwagoneers because people who tend to diet hop also tend to have obnoxious personalities since they can’t think for themselves and feel they must follow the herd. And obnoxious personalities are the ones who will run the waiter ragged making multiple trips back and forth trying to accommodate their non-existent illnesses and leave a very little tip.

    1. I was in the restaurant business for many, many years and I hear ya. It’s the obnoxious ones who run the waiter rampant and then order bread pudding for dessert that make it difficult for the rest of us.

        1. How nasty. But not nearly as nasty as my bathroom after I’ve accidentally had gluten. Would love to email you the scent.

        2. *You’re

          And no, if a person is being polite you have absolutely no reason to treat them poorly. Anyone who eats out has the right to a good service, and you as a waiter are supposed to provide that.

  8. This post is exactly what I fear now that I’ve (finally) decided to make the commitment to live GF due to medical reasons (auto-immune disease). I love to eat out and typically do 2-3 times per week. I live in a “rural” area (comparatively speaking) and haven’t eaten out yet. (Just went GF three days ago – this detoxing thing folks talk about is no joke – ugh!) Anyway, I’ll be eating out tonight as I don’t want to cancel my overdue dinner plans with a dear friend. But the restaurant we’re going to doesn’t have their menu online for me to research ahead of time. I’m going to try to call them at some point today and try to speak to the manager (or better yet, the cook!) but suspect I’ll be sending our server on several trips to the kitchen!

  9. Thanks for this letter… it’s a carbon copy of one I’d LOVE to give to a recent waiter. Not only did he eye-roll, but actually asked me if I “really had an allergy” or was “just one of those dieters”. Yes. He actually asked that. When I said “its not really an allergy but a severe intolerance that would have me in his restroom the rest of the day, he visibly appeared RELIEVED then proceeded to to regail me with stories of all “those people” who claim to need gluten-free food, but don’t. To make a long story short… in the end, I got the “blackened” ahi on a bed of rice with fresh vegetables and avoided the salad bar as he stated “it’s tainted” (so, it seemed he kinda “got it”). Um. No. I got lightly seared tuna on white rice. No salt. No pepper. No veggies. Nothing extra. AND they still charged me the full freakin’ price. Needless to say, I was NOT a good tipper. AND, I will not be going back to that place.

  10. Does anyone else hate when a waiter comes back and asks if everything is ok during your meal – giving you a look that just reads ‘well they aren’t puking yet’. As if that is the end of our danger period for being glutened.

  11. I once went to a restaurant that said gluten free on about 85% of their menu… asked the hostess if it was safe for celiacs…blank stare.., then I said “allergies”… she said yes, and something about how they decided to go gluten free because many people also “choose” to eliminate gluten…red flag. The waiter then came over with a huge crumbly plate of bread…I told him I had Celiac Disease, and asked if gluten free meant safe for me…I got “what is celiacs?”… I explained it as an allergy, asked about contamination, separate cooking, etc.. got “I’m new, I ‘ll ask the chef….”… few minutes later…”the chef is not sure what that means…what is it again, celiacs?” .. the chef of a restaurant that advertises itself as 85% gluten free has never heard the word celiac… unbelievable….needless to say, we walked out… after being charged full price for the drinks we ordered, with no apology.

  12. The last time I was in a restaurant checking the gluten free menu the waitress became VERY impatience when I asked her several times what options of the GF menu were also lactose free. She answered: “all of them!” and rolled her eyes very, very annoyed.

    Of course I have learned my lessons and without losing my nerves I just ordered in the most polite way I could managed: “ok, then I will order this one and please would you be so kind to double check that it is lactose free? I will surely vomit blood if it has lactose in it. thanks!”

    She SUDDENLY and kindly suggested me another menu option more suitable and totally safe for me. Which I appreciated much (and safely enjoyed).

    She didn’t stop staring at me while I was eating as if I were about to burst into flames any other moment.
    And I bet she will never take so lightly the food allergy issue.

    Ps: I left her a nice tip, after all thank to her suggestion I enjoyed a tasty and celiac safe dinner. Which doesn’t happen frequently. 🙂

  13. I have had it up to here (motions with my hand to my forehead) with people rolling their eyes!
    Since when has been a polite, socially accepted way to respond to anyone? Especially in a business situation? Especially in a business situation where the dim-wit is working for tips?
    Frankly, If I ever own a business and find an employee rolling their eyes at a paying customer, the employee would soon find themselves as a former employee.

  14. Your the type of customer that would order a skinny latte and because your such a dick im the kind of waiter that would give you full cream and silently watch as nothing happens to you. Like many other waiters before me. Get over yourself. If you decided all of a sudden to be gluten free and join the fad. Simply dont be a dick about it. If you start questioning us about everything in our food, we are going to lie straight through a fake smile just to get your money and that is it. No more, no less.
    Let me guess,
    you probably wear “activewear” when eating out,
    You probably expect skinny milk in everything (which rarely happens)
    And you more than likey on a few occasions sent food back which “probably” (most definantly) has been rubbed in bread crumbs by scorned staff.

    So before you start complaining about your waiter… Just remember its not only the waiter your complaining to…

    Something will happen to your food. It always does and the boss will never know.

    Be respectful, considerate and understanding of your (very own personal slaves) and you will will actually get (like totally) gluten free food….

    If we didnt sell out already.

    1. You know eye-rolling is horrific customer service, right? And he has every right to complain. Any good boss would go for disciplinary action against the waiter at that point.

      Also, this guy has coeliac disease, an autoimmune (the body’s immune system attacks the body) disease where even trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can cause the immune system to attack the lining of the intestines.

      Over time, this not only causes a lot of GI distress, it also causes nutritional deficiencies, anaemia, even cancer.

      (Also on the latte thing: my friend is severely allergic to dairy. As in, anaphylactic. She would likely die if you put in cows’ milk instead of soya milk. It would be on your head. No more jobs for you.)

  15. Maybe you need to hear it from the other side too.

    I have celiac disease. I ALWAYS tip well when I go out to eat, because I realize
    I am putting the waitress to a lot of extra hassle for my benefit.

    However, some of us are not as considerate and some are downright ayholes.
    Like the woman who drove my always-eager-to-please-but-often-naive waitress
    daughter ragged, sending her back and forth to the kitchen countless times, to find
    out if there was gluten in just about everything plus the wine.
    And then, after my daughter bent over backward to please her, she leaves her a crappy

    Waiters and waitresses work for $2.00 an hour bc they are expected to make the rest
    in tips…and when they are not tipped, or get very substandard tips, they are basically
    paying their wages to serve you. They have to share their tips with the bartender and hostess,
    and if they don’t get decent tips, they have to pay it from their regular wages or other tips.

    Its a lousy, thankless job and I have always been amazed that anyone does that work. My daughter
    chose it because she felt it would be “fun”. Nope!

    1. And not only did she do all that for your crappy tip, the large amount of time you took
      up prevented her from waiting on other tables and so she lost their money too.
      I sincerely hope you choked on your food.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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