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Buffet Workers Share Their Absolute Worst Horror Stories

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If you need more evidence that you should never, ever, ever, ever eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet, this is the list for you. Someone asked the buffet workers of Reddit to share the most horrifying things they've seen on the job, and reader, you have no idea just how gross buffets are. I guarantee it. I already thought buffets were nasty, and several of these shocked me and shook me to my core. You've been warned.

1.

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For some, the all-you-can-eat buffet is the wild wild west of restaurants. It's lawless land. People think they can do whatever they want, and they do. When which_spartacus worked as a busboy at a country buffet in South Carolina, one day he went to clean a table where there had been a group of 12 seated. They left the place a mess, but this was more than that. When these people were done with their plates, they'd scrape their garbage onto the floor and go get more food. "Next to each chair, there was a six-inch to 18-inch pile of chicken bones, crab legs, mashed potatoes..." What the actual heck. 

2.

"People are animals," writes sixpackshaker, who worked as a dishwasher at a fried catfish buffet. And I believe them! They say that people will take the leftovers that they're not going to eat, "pile them on a plate or tray, cover in ketchup and tartar sauce, then pour their iced tea over the top of all that." Why?! I feel like that's a thing bored little kids do to their gross school lunches. But adults should know better.

3.

Valkrine10 caught a woman and her two young children trying to skip out on paying for their meal. It was one of those places where you pay at the end. After eating, she snuck out with her younger kid, leaving her poor son alone at the table. Presumably, he was supposed to try to sneak out after her. But the restaurant caught on, caught up to her in the parking garage, and called the police to handle the situation. That little kid must be traumatized! Left Alone at the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet will be the title of their memoir.

4.

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Lovelyyyrose1993 wasn't a worker but a customer at Golden Corral when they walked up to the chocolate fountain. There, three little girls stepped in front of them and stuck their grubby little hands right in the fountain. So. Gross. The worst part is that the little girls' family saw what they were doing and just laughed it off, thinking it was cute and funny and not at all disgusting (which it clearly was). 

5.

Zenkikid wasn't a worker either, but they were at a Souplantation, that poorly named buffet restaurant where you can get unlimited soup and salad. While there, they saw a "grown man having a child-like meltdown" because he had shown up too late and missed out on the biscuits and gravy. Seems like this guy didn't have a lot going on in his life, so all his happiness was caught up in those biscuits and gravy. Sad.

6.

Roz-Boy also wasn't a worker, but it turns out patrons of buffets can be just as horrified at things other customers do. They once saw someone use their shirt as a bag, filling it with BBQ chicken wings. I have so many questions about this. Was this person wearing the shirt at the time? Did they just flip up the bottom and cradle the wings like a baby on their stomach? Were these extremely saucy wings? Did they get away with it?! I need to know!

7.

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This might be the most horrifying one so far. The buffet where vismungcg lives was shut down for serving coyote meat and passing it off as other types of meat. That's so gross and so unsafe in so many ways. I have no words. Someone else commented that a place near them was busted for trapping seagulls on their roof and passing it off as chicken. Apparently, this is a thing that happens. If you'll excuse me, I have to go throw up now. 

8.

I have to let EmmyTheSweet's words speak for themselves on this one because I don't have the strength to emotionally deal with this just yet: "the kid in front of me was slightly shorter than the buffet bar but had his hands in the yellow jello — just massaging it. Then his mom came by and snatched him away but didn't say anything while a guy came and made himself a bowl of jello." They haven't eaten a gelatin dessert since, and I think that's probably a good move.

9.

Obeyyourbrain had a coworker who used to manage a Ryan's Buffet. That guy said it was "fairly common" for people to gorge themselves on food, go to the bathroom and puke it all up, and then start eating again to "get their money's worth." As someone who has a mortal fear of throwing up, I could not imagine ever inducing that experience on purpose. That's horrifying, not to mention quite unhealthy.

10.

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This next one is a special level of disturbing. Ndkjr70 had a friend who worked at a Chinese-American buffet. They once caught a regular customer dipping his pizza in the communal wonton soup bowl from which people were supposed to serve themselves. He'd take a bite, dip the piece, take another bite, and dip it again. Excuse me, I have to take a minute to recover from gagging. The kicker is that he did it four times before management finally banned him from the place.

11.

Pm_me_nothing____ only worked a buffet for a few weeks, but in those few weeks they saw some crazy stuff. They said it was common for people to sneeze into the food or poke their fingers in it to taste sauces and things. How gross is that? He once saw a guy drop a piece of pizza on the floor and then put it back in the serving area! The worst part is that the restaurant wasn't doing well, so management refused to get rid of the food that had been tampered with. 

12.

Lewshis saw several insane things while working as a server at a Chinese buffet. He saw a woman puke all over a table (no thanks!!!!!!). Then, one time, he tried to pick up a dirty plate that had a "big pool of hibachi sauce/  grease" on it. The customer stopped him, said, "That's the best part," and proceeded to slurp it up like cereal milk. Well, that is an image that will be burned into my brain for the rest of eternity.

13.

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You don't think it can still get worse, but let me assure you, it can! Allhailkircules was once at an Old Country Buffet, waiting in line to get some mac and cheese. The kid in front of them piled his plate high, started tapping the serving spoon to get the extra off, then licked the spoon clean. The serving spoon!!!!!!!! These are like mini horror movies. This story will haunt me more than watching Hereditary did, I'm sure.

14.

Darkagl1 isn't a buffet worker or a buffet customer, probably because they work for the health inspectors. They said they had a buffet get shut down once because one of the employees was chopping vegetables while going to the bathroom. Number two. It was unclear if the employee had brought the vegetables into the bathroom, or if he had used a bucket in the kitchen. But either way, it's safe to say I'm scarred for life.

15.

Saberus_Terras was a customer at a Sweet Tomatoes, hoping to get some unlimited soup and salad, when they saw something that would haunt them for the rest of their life. A man by the soups took the serving ladle out of the giant pot, brought it to his lips, and took a big slurp from it. That's bad enough, but that's not where this ends. Apparently, he didn't like that soup, so he spit it out back into the ladle, and put the ladle back into the soup. I didn't think these stories could still shock me at this point, but here we are.

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