“Congratulations on your “A” grade”, I remarked to my waitress.  Now, I knew the local Department of Health began rating sanitary conditions in restaurants some time back.  And I figured it was essential to receive an “A”.  Anything less, and customers might have second thoughts about eating there.  What I didn’t expect was her response – “You don’t know the half of it”.  I indicated that I would.

Even though the place was bustling she launched into a doleful tale whose theme was government regulation gone awry.  Inspectors  came in unannounced she remarked, and as luck would have it, it was busy when things normally are out of place.

On this particular occasion they first headed down to the basement where they spotted some cans of food stacked on the floor.  They had just been delivered, she noted, and hadn’t yet been put away.  “And then this guy notices that one or two cans had dents in them, and we were forced to throw them out.  One of them spotted some melting ice cubes on the floor.  We had lots of customers at the time and hadn’t yet gotten around to wiping it up.  That was also a violation”, she said.  “The inspectors, back upstairs, then watched as one of the workers leaned over to ladle out soup from a large pot.  They found something wrong with that as well.”

“They just look to find petty stuff and hold it against us.   Based on what the inspectors saw, we were told we’d receive a ‘B’ grade.”  “Unacceptable”, our owner said.  He’d be damned before he’d let that happen, and instead settled for a Rating Pending sign.  After changing procedures he was told the restaurant would get an “A”, except that he first had to pay a fine for the original violations that came to several thousand dollars.  “Can you believe that?” she remarked.  I really couldn’t.

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