The “I Can’t Eat There; I Used to Work There” Diet

My son used to LOVE to go to Noodles and Company and get the Barbecue Pork Mac.  He loved it so much, that my husband started making it at home.  Then, my son got a job at Noodles and Company, and lost his appetite for their food and all things “N-word” as he now refers to the place.

My son spent one of the worst weeks of his life in the kitchen at Noodles and Company.  While the pay was decent, over a dollar above minimum, the hours were horrible.  He is 17 and still in high school, but that didn’t stop them from working him 6 to 7 ½ hours at a time, on school nights, with NO BREAK.  Not even a bathroom break.  Sure, he could have free soda, but NO BREAK.  The people he worked with told him this was normal for that location.  He came home from work literally shaking from the caffeine and lack of food. Umm, I’m pretty sure that is illegal.  In fact, I know it is.  In addition to the hours, they had him cooking with little training and no Ove Gloves, or any hand protection.  He burned himself twice.  So, at the end of the week, my husband and I told him to just stop working there and find a company that doesn’t get their corporate training from a Charles Dickens novel.

So, of course, you can understand why my son has no interest in eating noodles of any kind.  This seems to happen to a lot of people who work in food service, not the Oliver Twist working conditions, but the distaste for workplace food.  Way back in the day, before iPhones and DVR’s, my husband worked at Hot Dogs and More (no longer in business) in the mall near his house.  While he did get breaks and his shifts were never longer than 4 hours, he still does not like hot dogs.  Later, in college, my husband worked at Dunkin’ Donuts.  While the rest of America may run on Dunkin’, I can assure you that my husband runs FROM Dunkin’.

I never worked in food service, so I can eat anything.  This is probably not shocking as evidenced by my tree trunk legs and masculine waistline.  After my son’s experience, I won’t be setting foot in a Noodles and Company anymore, but I will still drive through Dunkin’ Donuts when I need a gluten fix.

What about you?  Is there any food you refuse to eat because of a job? Leave a comment and let me know.

22 thoughts on “The “I Can’t Eat There; I Used to Work There” Diet

  1. Didn’t happen for me. I worked at a Cajun restaurant, and I’ll still eat crawfish étouffée until I’m stuffed. But I was a hostess, and didn’t have to handle the food, so that may have something to do with it.

  2. Wow so unfortunate for him! Well I have actually worked in the food industry here and there while working my way through college. I have mainly worked as a bartender. Surprisingly I have not completely been disgusted and deterred from alcohol. I should as I worked about 10 years as a bartender. I am happy to say I have slowed down ALOT from drinking lol.

    1. I am with you, lady. 🙂
      Yeah, Kelly, he came home shaking and almost teary-eyed. He asked other people on his shift if it was always that way, and they said yes.

  3. During high school I worked at Bishop’s Buffet, known for their famous Chocolate Ambrosia pie. It was to die for but one shift we workers witnessed a not so clean kitchen worker filling the pie crusts by scooping the chocolate ambrosia filling out of the mixing bowl with her hand and plopping it in. During this already gross procedure, she took her scoop arm and wiped her nose. Oh screech!

    1. Ugh!I’m so sorry, Deb. That would ruin pie for me, too. Have you seen The Help? That’s where I thought you were going with the chocolate pie story. 🙂

      The good news is Noodles seems to have a very clean kitchen. Sergio was in it a lot, so we know this.

  4. My son, who is brilliant, a hard worker, and witty, was trying SO hard to get a job to help with college expenses. He put in application after application and couldn’t even get an interview. FINALLY Chipotle Grill called him for an interview.

    He dressed in his dress pants, shirt, and tie. He researched the company, learning about their ingredients, mission statement, and goals. He came home from the interview feeling great — he said that the other people there were in T-shirts and baseball caps and that the person who interviewed him told him that while they were not the decision maker, they would tell the manager that he should be hired.

    Then he was invited back for a second interview — but I knew something was weird when he told me that the manager “couldn’t make the interview because she was pregnant had to leave work unexpectedly to get an ultrasound.” I work at an OB/GYN office, so I knew the only time pregnant women get emergency ultrasounds are when they are 1) in the ER and are having problems or 2) in the doctor’s office and are having problems. You just don’t leave WORK to get an unexpected ultrasound without going to the ER, your doctor’s office, or labor and delivery first.

    Still, he was extremely hopeful — but no one ever called him again. What was SO frustrating for him is that the “now hiring” sign stayed up for another three weeks — and then he stopped by for a drink one day and saw one of the guys who had interviewed the same day as him behind the counter. This yahoo couldn’t even make correct change for my son — he had to explain to the guy how much he was owed.

    Needless to say, we will never eat at Chipotle Grill again. If they jerk around totally qualified people like they did my son — and hire clueless people instead, I just don’t trust them to serve food that is safe to eat. Plus, they are just assholes.

  5. I’ve worked in food service way back when and have seen a few things, but not enough to stop me from eating out. However, now as an adult, when I hear about something bad, it’ll stop me from going back to a particular place!

  6. One of the lovely things about being a writer with a blog is that you can pretty much call out those who need a little public exposure. The way your son was treated is pretty reprehensible. Glad he was able to quit. And I can tell you, we won’t be dining there either. Like Michele, if I hear bad things about a restaurant, I won’t go there either. I had no idea the food service industry had so much in common with sweatshops. Just think about all the workers who don’t have the luxury of walking out the door.

    1. I agree. I felt I had to call them out, not just for my son but for the kids who don’t have the luxury of quitting. Noodles contacted me for more information, and they are looking into the situation. I hope everyone involved is honest so this can actually be solved.

  7. This is awful. I once had a friend who worked at a fast food restaurant and he witnessed a rat run out from under the counter and in a panic it jumped up into the hot oil used for the french fries. Nasty…just nasty.

    1. Yep. It makes you want to only eat at home, but then you have to worry about ecoli and GMO’s and whatever else. It’s a wonder I’m not skinny. Have a good day, Katie! 🙂

  8. That is HORRIBLE! Someone should report them.. I’ve never worked in the food industry but that’s because of a very simple restriction I have: I don’t give if you don’t want bacon on your burger or want it medium rare. I wasn’t tailored to work in the food industry so I never tried. It’s not my jam. I can eat anything but definitely try not to eat things that look a) alive or b) disturbing. 🙂 Happy Hump Day and glad your son got out of that job! -Iva

    1. Iva,
      I tweeted my blog to Noodles and they are looking into it. I hope everyone at the store is honest and this issue can actually be corrected.
      I’ve never worked with food either,and I would be the same way.
      Happy Hump Day to you, too!

  9. Kentucky Fried Chicken! 35 years after I worked for the Colonel and made coleslaw in big batches that were stored in garbage can on wheels I still get nauseous when I smell chicken frying anywhere.

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