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A Finger in My Food?
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Sunday, June 9, 2013


Eating out can be a pleasant experience, especially if youreceive good service, you enjoy the dishes prepared for you and the company isinteresting. But have you ever noticed that some servers appear to have aproblem with knowing just where their fingers are at all times?

Whether you?re eating at a fast food restaurant (they doover $140 billion/yearly in sales) or a full-service restaurant (over $170billion a year by one estimate), you want one thing besides quality food. Whatis that one thing you don?t want to pay for at a restaurant? Yes, of course,it?s any foodborne illness compliments of the staff or the improper prep of thefood.  The CDC (Centers for DiseaseControl) estimates that 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesseseach year.  Of that number, 128K arehospitalized and 3K die from it.

Another thing you don?t want, of course, is a finger sittingin your soup or salad or side dish as it is nimbly placed on the table beforeyou or put into the container.  Next timeyou even go to a shop that sells muffins or bagels or whatever little treatsyour heart desires, take a look at the hands being used to foist that food inyour direction.

Disposable gloves have become a common, if ephemeral handcovering for food servers, but take a look as I did.  The very courteous young man asked what the womanwould like and I did note that he was wearing disposable gloves as he pluckedthe muffins from the baskets and placed them in a crisp paper bag.  Next came the shocker.

?Anything else?? he asked politely. No, that was all shewanted and she handed over a $10 bill for the order and I watched, somewhataghast, as he took the bill in his gloved hand, put it into the register andbegan to fish out her change with his still-gloved hand.

I had a few people in front of me, so I was in a perfectposition to continue this mini-movie in the muffin shop as he now went on tohis next customer?still wearing the same gloves!  He took the order, went over to the basketsof muffins, took a few out and plopped them into a fresh, crisp bag.  With a smile, he inquired if that was theorder, took the money and went on serving other customers.  When was he going to change those gloves?

Did he think the gloves were to protect him from somethingthe people and their money would leave behind? Did his boss instruct him not touse more than x-amount of gloves a day? Curious about this, I asked the owner of a local specialty foods shopand she brightly told me that she really didn?t know if they had to wear glovesor not. Well, it just so happens that they do according to the healthdepartment in that town.  The owner musthave found my question a bit disquieting because the next time I came into hershop, the workers were all wearing gloves and changing them between sandwich orsalad orders. 

The muffin shop, however, didn?t appear to get the messagefrom anyone. Last time I was there, I did notice a change.  The workers were wearing one glove on thehand they used to pick up the muffins and taking the money with their unglovedhand. But, I thought to myself, how could they be so adept that they?d neverhave to use their two hands while making change or they wouldn?t forget anduse the gloved hand to receive the money? We?ll never know because I don?t intend to make a new career out ofwatching food servers in small shops dole out goodies, gloved or not. 

But again, today, I watched as a server in a major takeoutfood chain restaurant picked up a bowl of mashed potatoes, finger in themashed, and carry it to where the tops for the dishes were kept.  Another finger mishap or was it somethingelse? Did the server resent the job or the customer, the boss or was it just acoincidence? These questions have been answered. One of the servers wasn?t ascareful as he should have been and told one of the customers that, ?The boss isin a good mood today.? And that?s when the server chooses to finger the food?Imagine what happens when the boss isn?t in a good mood. 

What goes on in kitchens stays in kitchens. God help us if weever knew what did go on there.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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