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‘Excuse Me, Waiter, How Much is Your Restaurant’s Mouse-Spotting Discount?’

To be fair, the mouse I spotted was much smaller than this one.   Photo: Loren Javier/Flickr
To be fair, the mouse I spotted was much smaller than this one. Photo: Loren Javier/Flickr

Last weekend I was dining in a nice, popular restaurant in Grapevine. My companions and I were enjoying our meal, and I was in the midst of telling another of my famously captivating anecdotes when my wife dared to interrupt me to point out there was a (non-human) animal crawling around the floor just behind my chair.

It was a small mouse. (I realize mice are generally small, and I’m no expert on their physiology, but this specimen seemed tinier than average.) I stood and, without another thought to my own safety, corralled the creature with my foot towards the outer wall and out the door. I turned towards the rest of the packed dining room to acknowledge their praise of my quick thinking and fearlessness in the face of adversity, but I’d apparently made such quick work of the rodent that no other tables had taken notice.

Having had a lovely day, and being in a relaxed mood, I wasn’t terribly put out by what had happened. I returned to telling my story and partaking of the restaurant’s fare. When our waiter finally came back to our table a few minutes later, I decided to alert him to the presence of the creature and point out how the crack beneath the door could provide an easy route back inside.

I was certain he’d want to know. I was wrong.

Aside from a perfunctory apology and joke that the mouse must have come from one of the nice, popular restaurants next door, the waiter didn’t seem concerned. He even partially justified the appearance of the animal by noting that we were, after all, seated on the patio. (Though I will note that on cool winter nights, like last Saturday, this patio is fully enclosed.) I was also curious to see the waiter not at least pretend to immediately rush away to alert his manager to the problem. He instead casually sauntered over to a couple of other tables on the patio, chatting and taking orders, before re-entering the main dining room.

We weren’t offered any sort of discount for our trouble. No free dessert, no complimentary glass of wine, nothing. I imagine if I’d been a higher-strung person and demanded compensation for the free pest-removal services I’d provided the restaurant, I’d have been granted something. But should a customer have to ask in a case like this? Where does the burden lie?

How much compensation should a diner be granted for having to contend with a rodent? Should that offer be somewhat less when the diner is on the restaurant’s patio, even an enclosed patio? Would your expectation be any different if it’d been a rat rather than a tiny mouse?