Now before anyone protests the title of my story(ies), yes many places are now educated about the dangers of allergies, and chefs are trained to be both knowledgeable and willing to work with special requests by Custys. I don't argue with that. My main complaint is that ignorance is still horrifically rampant.
My mom is allergic to peppers (bell, jalapeno etc--not black pepper, that's a different kind of 'pepper') and bananas. Apparently there's one enzyme or protein in those two that Mom reacts to. It's not as severe as some allergies out there. A taste is generally not enough to cause real problems, but it can still result in a hospital trip if she gets too much, and she carries an Epi Pen with her at all times.
The first headache resulted from a trip to Disneyland. We went into the Blue Bayou restaurant by Pirates of the Carribean and a look at the menu revealed that almost all of the lunch items came with peppers in some form. Seriously, even the steamed vegetables, side salads, and mashed potatoes had peppers in them... My aunt just told mom, "Oh don't eat the side dishes then or scape it off the top."
(Odd... I swear I just heard a chorus of RHUers scream "NO!" for some reason. Could it be that many of you also know just how far that statement fails?)
Dad and I argued with her for 10 minutes about how that wouldn't work and the park really didn't want to have an ambulance incident. Fortunately for us the waitress was very quick on the uptake and, having overheard us, vanished into the back with barely a flicker of her eyelashes.
We were just finishing up educating my aunt when a chef came out, introduced himself to us and began to discuss at length with mom the various menu items and either confirming or denying the presence of the presence of peppers. When it became apparent that finding something Mom COULD eat on the lunch menu would be difficult, he promised that he could deliver.
He would pull out a dinner menu item that was not cooked with peppers at all, if she was okay with eating beef (I forget the dish, some sort of filet mignon or something). When Mom assured him that was fine, he also promised to thoroughly clean his station so that cross contamination from the peppers wouldn't be a danger. The allergy isn't THAT strong, but it's good that he was taking great care of Mom.
My aunt still didn't seem to understand, but at least she stopped arguing.
The second headache was more serious. While exploring through a local mall, a Hagen Daas popped out a fresh faced young Retail Slave (I swear, he was probably legally old enough to work by a day) with a tray of little cups. He offered us a sample.
As is habit and a cautionary survival trait, we asked what he was offering. "German Chocolate Shake" we were told. Obviously one of those names meant to be a play on "German Chocolate CAKE" in a "SHAKE" form. I took a sip, and my immediate internal response was, "Holy SHIT that's got BANANA!"
I spun to mom and said frantically, "Don't drink it!"
"Too late." Mom said.
Because it was supposed to be a chocolate cake derivative, it never occurred to any of us that banana would be one of the ingredients. Naturally not occurring to mom, and being the chocolate lover she is, she downed it in a single swallow.
Now take a breath RHU, Mom's okay.
When I told the Hagen Slave that Mom was allergic to banana and that there was banana in his sample, the poor kid went dead white. Obviously they never told HIM about it; they just shoved a tray in his hands and told him to offer the stuff to passing Custys. A quick confirmation with the slaves behind the counter and he reappeared with a phone in his hand, offering to call 9-1-1. He was more upset than we were, probably because he was terrified that he had just killed someone, and he was very apologetic.
We declined the ambulance, but accepted a glass of water to dilute it and to wash the sticky banana laced coating out of her mouth and throat. With many reasurrances that we were okay and that we weren't upset, we continued on our way.
Thankfully, Mom's allergic reaction was mild. Her mouth tingled, and her throat swelled a little. Breathing became a little difficult, but didn't cut off completely. We dug up the Epi Pen and kept it in easy reach, but the reaction subsided. In the end, her body simply screamed "Bad!" and flushed it through her system as quick as a laser beam.
There probably would have been an incident report had a manager been alerted, but we barely stayed two minutes. I suspect though, that the poor slave spends the rest of his days asking exactly what is in everything they give him. Poor kid got a mini trial-by-fire.
May all your customers be nice,