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Senior Correspondent

A fast food chain circulated a catchy jingle many years ago that proclaimed that “special orders don’t upset us.”

But — and this is a big “but” — most food preparers may not get upset, but they rarely get it right or deliver it as asked.

These requests may not upset that particular chain, but many restaurants do have problems with any changes to the dishes on the menus.

The movie “When Harry Met Sally” showed the intricacies of ordering with particular requests as one of the main characters was a champion at it. Sometimes it can go on for several sentences.

Believe me, I am one who knows! I have been accused of being the high-maintenance customer by my family and friends. My children cringe when we go out to dinner and I began to order — no tomatoes, no mayonnaise, dressing on the side, etc.

Can it really be that hard? Eating out should be a treat with no hassles. Just because someone wants a meal prepared in a particular way, doesn’t mean it should cause such drama or trauma.

For some reason, tomatoes and mayonnaise seem to be two items you cannot prohibit from gracing your plate. No matter how many times you may order asking to hold both these items, they somehow make it to the table, and of course, the plate is then sent back to the kitchen. I love tomatoes but only after they are cooked (my mother tried to get me to eat raw ones, but I never gave in – not sure why), and I like mayonnaise but in limited amounts.

It would save all of us a great deal of time and frustration if the powers that be would just read the orders and follow the requests the servers have documented. Sometimes those waiting on you act like it will take an act of Congress to change any menu item (we all know how difficult that can be), while others appear to write it all down. It is a true crap-shoot to see what comes to the table.

And what about those extra spicy dishes? Dare to ask for a little less spice and you never know what will come to greet your taste buds when you take the very first bite! Be sure to have a large drink close at hand. One of my sisters recently told me how she had to send a dish back three times before she could eat it. It was too spicy! Three times — really! Finally, a manager jumped in and fixed it properly.

It always seems the eateries that have the menus with pages and pages of choices are the least likely to honor any special orders and actually serve them as asked. With so many choices, it seems changing one or two items would be a minor accommodation.

I hate to give in but sometimes I will order a dish that is really simple so that I don’t have to ask for something on the side or holding an item. Caesar salads have become one of my favorites – few items and dressing on the side. That is hard to mess up.

I am a little encouraged as some eateries have instituted a self-ordering area. You can put what you really want from the menu. The only problem is if those preparing the food don’t heed the orders. It could work with a little practice.

Those of us who are picky, or particular eaters, (as we are sometimes branded) — don’t despair. Generally, we eat less than those who plow through any meal no matter what it contains, and thus this just might help with gaining less weight. But not always!

Come on people, your business is to serve food – why can’t you listen and get it right!

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