When a night out at the local Chili’s begins with undercooked broccoli, an annoyed customer, and a waiter spitting in said customer’s drink, and leads to police taking DNA samples from the waiter to determine who was, in fact, the spitter, it goes without saying: Everyone could have done a bit better here. But we’re getting slightly ahead of ourselves.
Ken Yerdon and his wife, Julie, went to their local Chili’s in a Syracuse suburb last July like they did every week. As the Yerdons tell it, the service on this particular night wasn’t great: undercooked broccoli, some chips they ordered never arrived. "They were busy -- we understood," Julie Aluzzo-Yerdon told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "We were patient with [our server], but we could tell he was annoyed with us. All Ken said to him was, 'Are you OK? Have we done something to offend you?' And he said, 'Oh, no, no."
It’s unclear when exactly 24-year-old server, Greg Lamica, officially became annoyed, but the following moment seems like a good bet. From Syracuse.com:
When they were getting ready to go, the Yerdons told Lamica they wanted to get their drinks refilled and to take them in to-go cups. Lamica brought them the cups, as if he'd expected them to pour the remains of their drinks into the cups, according to a police report. Ken Yerdon told Lamica they wanted him to refill the cups, since the drinks on their table were almost gone, he said. Lamica seemed annoyed again, and took the cups to the back of the restaurant, Yerdon said. On their way out, they Yerdons saw Lamica and noticed that he wouldn't make eye contact, the police report said.
While asking for to go refills appears to violate the implicit chain restaurant-patron contract, it seems like an annoyance a normal server on an ordinary night could overlook and complain about in the kitchen later. On the drive home, after taking a couple of sips, the lid of Ken Yerdon’s to go drink popped off. "I saw the spit in the cup," Yerdon told Syracuse.com. "It wasn't regular spit either. It was definitely a loogie."
A normal customer on an ordinary night would have been annoyed or disgusted about this—even angry. Even going back to the restaurant to complain seems well within the bounds of appropriate anger. Yerdon did go back and complain, and oh so much more. The managers apologized, gave Yerdon some free stuff, but stopped short of fingering Lamica. Ken Yerdon was not an ordinary customer. The Associated Press:
Several days after the Yerdons called the state police, investigators showed up at Lamica’s door where he denied spitting in Yerdon’s drink but agreed to have his mouth swabbed for DNA, according to state police. Meanwhile, Lamica had not been fired and he continued to work at the Chili's until last October when he left on his own volition, according to court papers. Three months after the incident, DNA analysis concluded the spit in the Yerdon’s cup matched Lamica’s, who was brought into a police station where he confessed to the crime and was charged with disorderly conduct, according to state police. Lamica pleaded guilty in February and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge and a $125 surcharge, according to Clay Town Court. The Yerdons filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Lamica, Chili's parent company and the owner of the Chili's for negligence and retention of an incompetent employee. The lawsuit did not specify the damages being sought.
If there was a way to look like a jerk 10 months after getting your liter of cola spit in—this is it.