Are You Sure You Want To Eat In A Restaurant These Days?

Some food inspectors have discovered a lot of filthy conditions in restaurants recently, and the findings are raising questions about whether eating out is really as safe as it seems.

In the image above, I would not eat the dish being prepared by that chef if I knew that he was handling the food without wearing protective gloves …

I can tell you that the idea of getting food poisoning is not very appealing to me and I have had a couple of friends hospitalized from it lately — all because they ate something at a fast food restaurant that was unsafely stored or badly prepared.

I still do not trust restaurant cooks and servers and waiters and waitresses to properly wash their hands after using the bathrooms and there is no way for customers to watch them and make sure they do. I understand that it is illegal to install security cameras in bathrooms so who is to know when some lazy-assed jerk forgets or simply refuses to follow the safety rules when working with food that other people will consume?

While restaurants are required to post inspection stickers near their front door, it doesn’t mean all of them are clean, according to Lori Freeman, chief executive officer for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Some of the dirty conditions that have been uncovered in recent years include rodent feces, sewage backing up on a kitchen floor, and expired food. These violations have caused many people to lose their faith in restaurants and have led to a number of restaurant closures across the country.

Where I live, one hugely-popular family-style buffet restaurant was actually forced to shut down forever after food inspectors discovered (More than once) that they had a habit of storing their uncooked hamburger patties outside the restaurant, on racks sitting very close to the restaurant waste disposal dumpster. This made the local news.

Roaches and unsanitary food-contact surfaces have been a common concern for a number of South Florida restaurants, but a number of other issues are also being found at restaurants throughout the state. In fact, last week, a Papa John’s restaurant in Miami-Dade County was shut down because of roaches and clean utensils or equipment being stored in a dirty container.

When I was a younger man, I worked in a fast food hamburger joint where rats would scamper across the kitchen floor at the busiest time of the day and where the long-haired “Old Timer” grill cook never seemed to wash her hands or to wear a hair net and actually smoked cigarettes while flipping the burgers.

Dirty mugs and glasses have also been a problem in some restaurants, with some inspectors saying that people should be mindful of where they put their mugs and glasses when they set them down on a table or plate. The reason for this is that if your hands are dirty and you put your mug down on a dish or on a counter, then you’re likely to transfer bacteria from your hands onto the glass.

Another thing about seating arrangements at restaurants: I personally always wipe off my table when eating in a restaurant. I carry sanitary wipes especially for the purpose. I also wipe off the utensils because it is hard to imagine what kind of crud they might have been washed in before arriving at your table or how long it was before they got wiped dry, or if they just sat out and dried on their own — or how dirty the rag they got wiped with was — I worked in one of these places once and I am here to tell you that many of them will cut corners wherever they can get away with it.

Dirty plates, utensils, mugs, glasses and all that kind of stuff can contaminate the food that you’re eating, making it more likely to make you sick. There are a number of ways to avoid this, but one is to make sure your mugs and glasses are cleaned before you use them. Like I said, I carry my own methods of doing this whenever I go out. I get a lot of stares from other patrons but it is my health I am protecting and I don’t give a shit what onlookers might think.

In addition, be aware that some of the most dangerous violations can come from the way food is held and kept cold. For example, if the temperature of chicken salad is below 60 degrees, this could cause it to grow bacteria and make you sick.

My friend, Jim and I, got a bad case of some kind of food poisoning after eating a chicken casserole at a church banquet. This tantalizing-looking casserole had been sitting in a heated room, on a long table, for God only knows how long before we ate some of it … I should have known when I noticed that the food was not barely like warm that it had been there some hours before we dug into it.

If your meal isn’t cooked properly, it can also lead to problems. This is why some restaurants have been shut down for this, and it’s important to make sure your food is cooked in a clean environment, says Kristin Clay, director of the Virginia Department of Health. Of course, you can never tell the cleanliness of a kitchen restaurant because you are generally not allowed to enter them — and even if the dining area of the establishment looks sterile as a hospital operating room, you have no idea of what that kitchen looks like.

Other common problems with restaurants include improperly cleaned dishes, ice machines and fridges. These can all be a sign of a problem in the restaurant and should be taken care of immediately, but again, the patrons are going to be clueless as to the sanitization of these things.

It pays, in my opinion, to do some research before going out to eat these days. I always look up eating places on a site where customer reviews of the establishments can be found and I have found most of these reviews to be fairly accurate.

Some of these problems can be solved by simply making sure all staff have proper training, But others may require more drastic measures, like having a worker fired or the business closed.

It is also vital to ensure that the restaurant is a licensed establishment. This means that the business is inspected regularly by a qualified professional and has been checked for safety and cleanliness. This brings me to another item for a short discussion — food trucks and food concession stands at fairs, carnivals and other such places. I have gotten sick a number of times after eating a sandwich from a food truck. I have to be awfully damned hungry before I take the chance with them these days.

While some of the most serious violations can seem scary, the good news is that a number of these restaurants have been removed from the list after receiving a failing rating during an inspection. In the end, most of them will have their inspections corrected and can return to serving customers once the problems are fixed.

But in the end, it is the customer’s responsibility to check things out, to ask others who have eaten in such places, and to do a little snooping wherever possible .. especially in the bathrooms. I have found, in my own experience, that the condition of the restaurant bathroom is a good indication about the cleanliness of the rest of the place.

My Middle Name

Somebody wants to know the significance of my middle name. I can’t imagine what that would be used as a writing prompt but I will do my best to answer it in my normal unique and hyper-eccentric manner. Are you ready for this? Here goes:

My middle name happens to be “Richard.” (That is “Richard” that starts with an “R”.) — what do you mean, “That is obvious?”

My middle name is just a little bit more significant to me than it would be to anyone else unless the anyone else I am talking about is somebody who is trying to forge my name to a check or something.

My middle name is very significant to me and is higher on my value scale than my middle finger which is reserved for helping to balance my hands when I grasp something (Or someone as the case may be) or when I am using it to flip somebody off with a “Bird.” (“Bird” in this case means showing the middle finger to someone in an obscene gesture that means “F-You!”

At this point in the dissertation, I am beginning to wonder why the question about my middle name would be included in writing prompts. It makes me wonder if writing prompts contain enough personal questions that over the course of a few hundred of them, somebody somewhere might be able to get a really clear and highly-detailed picture of who I am — for whatever purposes.

I am waiting to see if the writing prompts people are going to ask me … sooner or later …. “What is the size and length of your “Schlong.” (Look that up in a Yiddish book somewhere.)

Anyway, as a last bit of relevant information about the subject in the discussion here, let me reveal to you that my middle name is also the first name of my Uncle-In-Law who was a short, fat, square-jawed, arrogant little gnome who owned a successful safe manufacturing company many years ago in Hamilton, Ohio USA.

“Uncle Richard” lived in this glitzy mansion just a couple of blocks up the street from my Maternal Grand Mother and whenever he and his wife, “Aunt Ella,” wanted to visit with Grand Mother, he and she would get into their shiny limousine and have their chauffer drive them the two blocks to Grand Mother’s house just so the neighbors could see them.

Later in life, I picked up on some of “Uncle Richard’s” appreciation of such showmanship — but today I am a lot meeker and milder ….and if you don’t believe that, just ask me and I will tell you because I am an expert on the subject of “Me.”

So to all you invisible sons of B*****s who think you are being clever by prying into my life with your writing prompt scheme, I hope that what I have just written fills your bill …. the good part is that if you are really out there, doing that, you will never know whether I am lying or not … and I can be a really effective liar with it is deemed by myself as appropriate or useful be so.


Oatmeal And An Eye Patch

Since my cataract surgery I cannot climb into my Thousand Dollar bed because it is too high off the ground and I am not supposed to do anything that will strain and put pressure on my eye so I have been sleeping on a bed that pulls out of an ordinary couch because it is lower.

The “Day Bed” is also old and lumpy so most of my night is spent rolling around trying to find a comfortable place. I can feel the springs of the bed poking me through the very thin mattress. I estimate that I am awake at least four times throughout the night now. But, by some Grace from God, morning does arrive and I am ready, at 6:00 AM to get up and go make coffee.

I have to wear this clear acrylic eye covering while I sleep so that I do not poke my injured eye while half asleep when it starts itching. The “patch” is not uncomfortable but the tape that holds it in place is super sticky and when I pull it off, it feels like part of my face and sideburns is going to get pulled off along with it. The good news is that such a thing has not happened yet. I can tell it hasn’t happened because when I look into a mirror, I can tell that I am still intact. That is a good thing.

Since the surgery has been only a couple of days ago now, my sight in the affected eye is still a little blurred and there are some wavy effects to some things that I look at, but when I use both eyes, things are much improved, even though the other eye needs and will get surgery too about 6 weeks from now.

All the foregoing information aside, I managed to have breakfast this morning including oatmeal with walnuts and raisins and a couple of pieces of toast with some coffee. Lunch today was a roast turkey breast sandwich with miracle whip, onion, tomato and lettuce on a toasted bun and a coke.

Since I am not allowed to bend at the waist any lower than the level of my heart (Because it puts unwanted pressure on the surgery site and can cause complications) I bought a device with which to reach for things … a kind of extended caliper if you will— and I have learned to pick up my trousers and socks and my stuffed animals and other things that I drop sometimes — a very useful device indeed.

The device is called a “Reacher/Grabber Tool and you can get it on Amazon or Ebay or other such places… and I am not being compensated for mentioning either the device or the sources of the devices. (I have to tell you that legally.)

That is what has been happening today — I will do some more about this as time goes on. I am glad that I had this surgery performed for me because I was getting dangerously close to losing my sight and it was tough to navigate with all three ailments going at the same time … the cataracts, the glaucoma and the macular degeneration.

But I believe things will be looking up (Pun intended) from here on out.