Sometimes there are very hard decisions in life that aren’t black and white — and you might choose to take the wrong action even when you’re trying to do the right thing.
That might have been the case for a server at a restaurant who was presented with the tough choice of serving a woman she thought was pregnant multiple alcoholic drinks or going under the radar to make the cocktails virgin.
After it all went down, the waiter headed to Reddit’s Am I The A—hole? forum to ask citizens at large if she had done the moral thing or just been a manipulative jerk.
In the post, she explains that four women in their 20s were having dinner and ordering cocktails.
“When I was on my way back to their booth with the drinks on a tray, I walked by the back side and overheard one of them talking about how she was 14 weeks along,” she explains. “When I rounded back, they were talking about the same topic and it was clear to me that she was pregnant. I figured her having one drink wasn't a big deal. They ordered their entrees and I went off to handle other tables.”
But when they asked for a second round, the server got nervous.
“This time, I went to the bartender, and asked him to make one of them a virgin cocktail,” she says. “He was confused but since he's a good friend of mine, I told him to just trust me.”
After a few cocktails, the women left, but the pregnant woman came back in when she saw the virgin drinks on the receipt. And she wasn’t happy.
“Several minutes later Mrs. Pregnant Woman came back and asked what (virgin) on the receipt meant,” she said. “I fessed up that it meant non-alcoholic. She blank stared me for a few seconds and then asked if she had ordered a non-alcoholic cocktail. I said no, but told her that I assumed she wanted one seeing as she was pregnant. It was a lame lie and I'll admit it, but she looked me in the eye and asked me to return her part of the tip. I did so. Then she talked to my manager. My manager took me into her office and literally shrieked at me until hoarse.”
The server is now off the schedule and in trouble since she could get the restaurant in trouble for discrimination — and the entire staff thinks she was in the wrong, too. But her mom and dad are standing beside her, and she is considering quitting because she still thinks she’s in the right.
This is definitely a tough one. According to the CDC, there is no safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman to drink. On the other hand, a few recent studies have shown that one occasional drink doesn’t affect the health outcome of the baby, delivery, or mother — and it’s become more culturally acceptable for pregnant women to minimally partake if they choose.
On the other other hand, drinking multiple cocktails during a dinner probably wouldn’t be recommended to a pregnant person by any doctor.
On the other other other hand, is it any of the server’s business what a woman does with her own body? And is it ever appropriate to give someone a food or drink item that’s different that what they asked for without telling them?
Down in the very spicy comment section, people had things to say. Primary among them is that the server assumed that the woman was pregnant — and everyone knows where assuming can get us in life.
One person nailed it: “14 weeks along doesn’t have to mean she’s pregnant, she could’ve been 14 weeks along in a fitness program, her new job, her new relationship, therapy,” they write.
And even if she were pregnant, another person responded, she could be miscarrying or planning to terminate her pregnancy — there is simply no way to know the entire story via eavesdropping.
Another good thought came from someone who saw that there was a third option that could have solved everything: “If you don't want to serve her, don't serve her, but don't try to trick her for her own good. You would not be the asshole if you had told her what you heard and said you didn't feel comfortable serving her alcohol.”
There’s also the logical commenter who had this bit of wisdom to share: “go ask your manager to take over the situation.” Short, sweet, and it doesn’t end with either the pregnant woman or the manager yelling at you.
“While I understand the sentiment and intentions of OP's actions, you can't impose your values on what a customer can or cannot order, especially when the law sides with them,” commented a fellow server who had been in a similar position before in her own work. “I used to bartend and had a similar situation where a very clearly pregnant woman (I would argue 6 or 7 months) came in and was ordering beers. While she only had two, I was still made uncomfortable serving her, so I deferred the tab to my manager who took over.”
And maybe it just comes down to the internalized, socialized desire we have in our culture to control women’s bodies.
“OB-Gyns told me that I could have a drink on occasion when I was pregnant,” one person wrote. “Why do you think you know better than a woman's doctor? You just want to control women's bodies. It’s creepy how eager people are to control women's bodies when they are pregnant.”