So there were rats in the restaurant. Okay. You’ll be fine!!!

Guess what my friend: there are rats everywhere. There are rats in the sewers. There are rats in the subways. There are rats in the alleys. There are rats in the trashcans.

There are rats in the restaurants.

Oh yes—there are rats in the restaurants. You think there are only rats in the restaurants unfortunate enough to have a patron take a picture of a rat in the restaurant that ends up on the local news? Oh no. There are rats in all the restaurants. Rats do not pay attention to signs and doorways and cleanly mopped floors. Rats come and go according to rat needs. Rats walk the hidden paths of the city. Rat paths pay no attention to Michelin stars. Only to small cracks in the molding and the scent of garbage. These things are in all kitchens. Rats might be walking through anywhere. You never know where a rat might show up. Just to poke his rat head in. Just to take a look.

Don’t sweat the rat’s technique.

Here’s the good news: it doesn’t matter. It does not matter one bit that a rat recently ran through the kitchen of the restaurant at which you are eating. The rat’s jaunt will not affect your dining experience one bit. Unless the rat is on the plate of food that you are currently eating, your horrified objections to the idea of a rat setting food in a restaurant are unjustified. The amount of filth brought into a kitchen by a stealthy foraging rat pales in comparison to the microscopic filth that undoubtedly coats the hands of the person preparing your food. Even in a nice restaurant. And even all of the filth on your cook’s hands, and floating in the air, and lying unseen on every kitchen surface, is not enough to have any effect on you, the diner. I eat in restaurants all the time. I’m fine. If I ever ate any rat hairs—and I probably did—I’m still fine. You have been in restaurants that have had rats in their kitchens before. You just didn’t know it. And you’re fine. Ergo, it is not worth giving a hoot about.

Rats poop a lot? You’re afraid of rat poop in your food? Okay. Look at your food. Is it food—or is it rat poop? It’s food? Okay. Stop being a drama queen.

If it comforts you, you can think to yourself, “What I don’t know can’t hurt me.” But the fact is that whether you know that a rat might have run through a restaurant at some point or not, it will not hurt you. Food poisoning is something that could hurt you in a restaurant. Rats are not secretly leaving uncooked chicken breasts sitting out overnight. Actual poison is something that could hurt you in a restaurant. Rats are not sneaking tiny vials of arsenic into your food as the chef’s back is turned. People go out in the woods and eat plants directly out of the dirt and eat animals that they just killed with a stick. And you’re worried about a rat being in the same physical building as your properly prepared dinner. You have a lot of work to do—on yourself.

Rats are just like you. They are just trying to live. If they have the chance sometimes, then sure, they’ll get a snack from a restaurant garbage can at night. They’ll sneak into a kitchen and get em a little something. Nothing wrong with that. They’re hungry just like you. So a kitchen had some rats in it. It probably also had some roaches in it. Doesn’t matter a bit. I’d rather dine with rats than with the kind of people who freak out about rats—whiners (and haters) who whine and hate (out of ignorance).

[Image by Jim Cooke]