A Jerusalem waiter is out of a job today after he attached the word “retarded” to the receipt of a customer who told him he had a serious nut allergy.
The waiter unintentionally forgot to erase the comment before printing the receipt, which said above the 57 Shekels ($16) total, “The retarded kid is allergic to pine nuts.”
“We had a look at the price, to make sure everything was okay, then I noticed that sentence,” Hadas Bandel tells TheBlaze. “My boyfriend didn’t notice it at first. I started laughing because it was really funny…he didn’t realize he left it on there.”
In response, Bandel scribbled on the receipt, “The retarded waiter isn’t getting a tip” and topped it off with a smiley face.
Bandel tells TheBlaze that though she and her boyfriend Lior Soltz, both 18, thought the episode was funny, after heading home, the two decided it was important to share their experience in the hopes it would raise awareness about potentially life-threatening food allergies.
She sent the restaurant receipt to the Israeli news site Mako, after which it went viral, with more than 100,000 hits so far.
The day after their dinner, the Israeli couple returned to the restaurant, “Hamakom Shel Itzik” (Itzik’s Place), where they met with the owner who was so upset he fired the waiter on the spot and asked him to write an apology to the customers.
Soltz suffers from an allergy to pine nuts so severe that he has visited the Emergency Room eight times and has been admitted to the hospital twice, his girlfriend tells TheBlaze. She says that once when the allergist pricked his skin with a trace amount of pine nut – part of a routine allergy test – his entire arm swelled up to “an enormous size.”
She explains that if a minute amount of pine nut contaminates his food – through shared utensils or dishes – “it can cause him to swell up and vomit.”
Which explains why he exercises extreme caution when eating out, including making sure his server understands his predicament and why he carries an Epipen injector, which is considered to be the first line of defense against food allergic reactions.
When the young couple went out to eat last Monday, they made several efforts to verify that the waiter understood that Soltz cannot safely eat pine nuts, nor can he eat food that is prepared with unwashed utensils that were used to prepare foods with pine nuts.
“They don’t take it seriously enough. Many waiters think [food allergic] people are just spoiled and don’t like a certain foods, and they don’t understand how severe it is,” Bandel says.
There have been two reported cases of food allergic-related deaths in Israel in recent years. Two years ago, 26-year-old Chen Efrat, who had a severe nut allergy, died after eating a Belgian waffle covered with Nutella. According to Israeli media reports, the restaurant staff assured her the chocolate sauce was nut-free.
In 2007, 15-year-old Bar Cohen died of an allergic reaction at a class party after eating a pastry she was told was filled with potatoes but in fact had traces of milk to which she was allergic.
The owner of the restaurant where Soltz and Bandel ate, Itzik Yaakov, tells Mako, “As a business owner for ten years, this shocked me…I apologized…and fired the worker on the spot over the phone and I arranged between Hadas and Lior and the worker an apology conversation.”
Yaakov says he doesn’t carry pine nuts in his establishment both because of concerns about allergies and because it’s an expensive item. He says it’s unacceptable that one of his workers would do something that “contradicts all of my principles.”
“I plan to deal with this in the best way possible, because I have never faced a situation like this, and it’s very unfortunate for me that it happened,” he says.
Bandel says she and her boyfriend were pleased that the restaurant was sympathetic to them. She says they also understand the waiter’s situation.
“He was just tired and trying to entertain himself, which we understood, because we were both waiters,” Bandel says of herself and Soltz. “We don’t hold a grudge.”
Earlier this month a father was outraged when he brought his child to a bar and grill in St. Louis and found the wait staff referred to the table as “fu**ing needy kids.”
This story has been updated.