There’s one problem with being in any particular industry – you notice things.

When I worked in the fire industry I noticed smoke detectors. I noticed the lack of smoke detectors. I noticed alarms.

When I worked in the security industry I noticed motion detectors. I noticed what type of security card was required to enter a room. I noticed security things.

And most of the time, it really doesn’t matter. Sure there were places that I thought were death traps if a fire ever occurred, but it really was just an incentive to keep moving along.

The problem is, I’ve now been working in the hospitality industry for too long. I’ve written one too many books about food poisoning. I’m starting to notice too many things.

And the problem is, they are the types of things that make me want to quietly get up and leave. I’ve had one experience where I cancelled my order and walked out. My wife is getting used to it.

My problem (and the cause of this post) is that it impacted on a very serious conversation I was having with a mate on the weekend. We were at a cafe discussing an important issue.

Being blokes, we aren’t locked into eye contact. I’m idly glancing just beyond him to the counter.

And see the waitress wipe down the bench top with a cloth. OK.

And then wipe down the tops of some canisters. OK.

And then wipe the cutlery that’s just been washed. Not OK.

My mind is thrown into confusion. Did I just see that?

She has my full attention. My mate just lost my attention to a cloth.

Sure enough, she wipes down some more things, and then returns to the cutlery. She picks up some forks and wipes them.

I turn back to my friend. What do I say?

“Sorry, you were just trumped by a dirty cloth”

OK, chances are we will be fine. It’s unlikely to kill us. It makes for an interesting anecdote. I’m healthy. It’s only a small amount of bacteria being spread about.

But this means that the waitress has absolutely no idea about food safety. What else does she do?

And why is the guy next to her not saying anything?

I think they deserve a free copy of The Rotten Food Cookbook. I think I will even mention this post to them when I send it to them.

Anonymously of course!