Hello, how is everyone?  Today I’m talking about takeaway food, you know, the sort that is prepared and cooked by somebody else, in a place you have no control over.  How safe is it to eat takeaway or café food?  How do you pick where it is safe to eat?  I’m not too sure, and if my experiences are anything to go by, I’m not great at picking.

One day at work I was contemplating what to get for lunch, as you do, and after much consideration I picked a small Asian food place that I had never gotten food from before.  I think I had been turned off by the orange bird carcasses hanging from hooks in the window, but they had been marinated and I knew they were supposed to taste sweet and savoury, something that can be quite yummy.  Bird carcasses aside I went in and ordered one of my favourites – chicken laksa.

The person serving me was a tired looking, middle-aged man in a white singlet: I should have seen the signs, but I was young and inexperienced.  He disappeared out the back, cooked my aromatic laksa, and returned, wherein my mouth watering, I paid.  My anticipation on the way back to the office was palpable; I couldn’t wait.

I set myself up at my desk and fielded comments from co-workers as to how nice it smelled.  I told them I had braved a shop I wouldn’t normally inhabit, but who was I to be judgmental, and I was proud to broaden my foody horizons.  I removed the plastic lid from the container and inhaled the chilli infused steam, mmm, yum this was going to be good!

My spork (spoon fork combo) parted the orangey coconutiness of the broth, and I scooped up some chicken and ate.  Mmm, it was so good!  My momentary self-congratulations on picking a new and fantabulous place to eat was short lived.  The second dippage of my spork produced horrific results.  Along with the chicken was an unwanted condiment: a used bandaid.  That’s right, used!  OMG, shit! Oh no, I ate some laksa that had been infused with a stranger’s germy refuse, argh!

When I recovered from the shock there was only one thing to do: return the food and get my money back.  Why does life have to be so complicated?  I only wanted lunch and now not only did I fear an unlucky hepatitis contraction, I would have to argue with someone to get my money back.  At least the bandaid had cured my hunger.

I took my infected laksa to the man in the shop.  I was young and uncomfortable with complaining but determined to get justice.  “Um, excuse me?”

He looked at me with the same monotone look he probably gave everyone, “Yes?”

“I just bought this laksa,” I said as I placed it in front of his face on the raised counter, “and there was a used bandaid in it.”

His lack of expression confirmed exactly how much this worried him, and his reply has stayed with me for the twelve years since it happened, “What,” he enquired in his accent, “You no like bandaid?”

‘Are you kidding me?’  I wanted to scream, ‘of course I don’t like the effing bandaid,’ but I contained my outrage and answered simply, “No, I don’t like the bandaid and I would like my money back please.”  He shrugged his shoulders as if to say, gee what is it with some people, and gave me what I asked for.

Having undergone this life-altering experience, I saved lots of money by making my own lunch for quite a few months.  So, peeps beware, there could be a surprise lurking in your next take-away; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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