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Apr-17-2010 12:48printcomments


People would be amazed/shocked/traumatized if they knew what goes on behind the scenes at eateries.

Character Farva in the movie
Character Farva in the movie "Super Troopers" pulling apart his hamburger after it was spat upon by an employee. In the movie, he concludes what happened, and goes ahead and eats it.

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Clark County Sheriff's Deputy Edward Bylsma went into a Burger King in Vancouver, WA early one morning in March 2009. He ordered a hamburger and, after getting it, had an uneasy feeling about a couple of the workers. He checked the burger and found a gob of spit. A DNA check revealed that it came from one of the workers.

On April 13, 2010, Bylsma filed a suit in federal court suit in Portland seeking at least $75,000 in damages, naming Burger King Corp. and franchise operator Kaizen Restaurants in Beaverton.

This makes me wonder how often this kind of thing actually happens. I suspect it is rare and individuals who do such a thing are clearly unbalanced. In this case I would suspect (and this is just my opinion) that the act was motivated by dislike or hatred of police, or maybe this particular cop.

And yet, people would be amazed/shocked/traumatized if they knew what goes on behind the scenes at eateries. Staying on the topic of spit, I recall a scene in the Robert De Niro movie Casino where Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) owns a restaurant and a couple of the gangsters are putting together a couple of sandwiches. One of them hawks a good one and spits into the open sandwich, closes it, and wraps it. In the next scene he is handing it over to a cop with much friendliness and bon homie. It’s not clear whether the cops are getting “freebies” or just being insulted.

Peter C. Newman in his first volume of The Canadian Establishment (1975) has a chapter on the exclusive clubs of the country. Newman writes: “During the fifties there was a retired railway steward called Richards who served senior members of the Toronto Club. He complained about the abusive treatment meted out to him by Sir James Dunn, but he found an appropriate solution. Whenever he served him soup, he spat into it first.”

George Orwell’s first book was Down and Out in Paris and London, (1933). His experiences working in hotels and restaurants in Paris are worth reading. A couple of excerpts.

It is not a figure of speech, it is a mere statement of fact to say that a French cook will spit in the soup—that is, if he is not going to drink it himself. He is an artist, but his art is not cleanliness.”

One last comment about spit. In one of his monologues, George Carlin announced that saliva causes stomach cancer—but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time.

Here’s a little exercise to try, or not try. Sluice around a lot of saliva in your mouth, then dribble it into a clean, clear, glass. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then pick it up and drink it ! Can you do it? Not everyone can. Some people feel squeamish just at the thought.

Enough about spit

In the Robin Williams movie Birdcage he is rushing around and quickly opens the double doors into the kitchen. The scene lasts only two or three seconds, but there is a cook picking up a piece of meat from the floor and putting it back on a plate. I laughed out loud the first time I saw that scene. In Orwell’s Paris:

There was a rule that employees must pay for anything they spoiled, and in consequence damaged things were seldom thrown away. Once the waiter on the third floor dropped a roast chicken down the shaft of our service lift, where it fell into a litter of broken bread, torn paper and so forth at the bottom. We simply wiped it with a cloth and sent it up again.”

He goes on:

A customer orders, for example, a piece of toast. Somebody, pressed with work in a cellar deep underground, has to prepare it. How can he stop and say to himself, ‘This toast is to be eaten—I must make it eatable’? All he knows is that it must look right and must be ready in three minutes. Some large drops of sweat fall from his forehead onto the toast. Why should he worry? Presently the toast falls among the filthy sawdust on the floor. Why trouble to make a new piece? It is much quicker to wipe the sawdust off. On the way upstairs the toast falls again, butter side down. Another wipe is all it needs. And so with everything. The only food at the Hotel X which was ever prepared cleanly was the staff's and the patron’s…. Everywhere in the service quarters dirt festered—a secret vein of dirt, running through the great garish hotel like the intestines through a man’s body.”

In spite of all this the Hotel X was one of the dozen most expensive hotels in Paris, and the customers paid startling prices….I imagine that the customers at the Hotel X were especially easy to swindle, for they were mostly Americans, with a sprinkling of English—no French—and seemed to know nothing whatever about good food..”

We now live in a society that is paranoid about cleanliness. There are hand sanitizers in almost every public place you enter (at least in Calgary). I go to Safeway and there are handiwipes so you can wipe off the handle of the shopping cart. At the public library there are plunger bottles of anti-bacterial cleanser so you can get rid of germs you’ve picked up from anything you’ve touched.

It’s getting to the point where it’s as if we are channelling the late Howard Hughes.

Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class — a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably on a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves — writing and trying to make the world a better place

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Vic April 23, 2010 8:19 am (Pacific time)

Well JT, I just think this is ridiculous...$75,000 ? A few yeas back at a party, a guy headbutted me and nearly broke my nose...that should be worth several billion I guess, but naive "lets all get along" fool that I am, I didnt even think about fact, after a brief scuffle, he and I ended up being friends and have been ever since (Howdy Mike!) You know, if that cop were an Afghan and the USAirforce "accidentally" bombed his house and killed his five children and he filed a claim, he would get $11,000..$2200 per kid. But he almost ate spit, so he needs at least $75,000....right. When we moved down to Mexico and bought car insurance I couldnt believe how low the rates were...about one tenth what they are in the US. I was skeptical even though I bought it from an American Insurance agency..when I asked how it could be so cheap, they told me that Mexico does not entertain frivolous lawsuits like the US. Damages claimed need to have factual basis, so settlements are much lower. We have full coverage with all the perks for $254 a year. That is for both of us.

JT April 20, 2010 7:37 am (Pacific time)

Wow, Vic, you sure are putting a lot of thought into this!! Ha, ha!

Natalie April 19, 2010 4:56 pm (Pacific time)

Pheeeew... some here still have a bad habit of chewing on something while reading... almost choked.

Vic April 19, 2010 12:20 pm (Pacific time)

Going a bit further on this....If this happened to me, I would complain to the manager and request that the spitter be fired or I go public. I would expect credit for another meal or three. But this cop actually took the spit in to be DNA tested? How do the courts know this is not a set up? I spit in my friend the cop's burger..I lose my minimum wage job, but get half the haul from the lawsuit...And, is this guy in the habit of checking inside his sandwiches before he eats them? Do the DNA labs in the US get a lot of requests from cops to analyze spit that they happened to find in their food? Am I naive for not inspecting every food item that I purchase?

Vic April 18, 2010 6:41 am (Pacific time)

Sounds to me like this cop is just trying to cash in....what "damages" did he incur? Did the BK employee taser him? Did he pull him over for some BS reason like "Your license plate light is dim" and then proceed to search his car? (that has happened to me). Did the BK employee shoot the cop and then try to lie about it and cover up the circumstances? This pig is looking for fast money...and greedy A-holes like him are why EVERYTHING costs more in the,doctor visits, groceries...everything, because there are always greedy loserd just looking for an excuse to sue. This cop should have to prove and document the extent of his injuries and "damages" that he allegedly recieved. There are none...BK should refund the price of his hamburger and tell him to go to Hell.

Daniel April 17, 2010 5:52 pm (Pacific time)

Sounds like the spit was the best part of the burger !

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