DEAR ANNIE: I live in a very small town. We have one small, locally owned family-friendly drive-in restaurant with an attached ice-cream shop. This is a central meeting place in our area.
Here’s the problem: There is an older woman working there who makes me cringe every time she takes my order. On repeated occasions, I’ve seen her eating at the counter that separates the ice-cream fountain area from the patrons. She licks her fingers and then, without washing her hands, handles the cones for our order.
She also touches all of the ice-cream machines and spoons and pulls some stuff out with her fingers. I can only imagine what she does behind the swinging doors. I have gently commented that perhaps she should wash her hands, but it doesn’t get through.
This restaurant is owned by a nice woman, but I don’t know her that well and am not comfortable mentioning this problem to her. But I find it hard to patronize the place, because this woman’s methods are so gross, and I don’t want to get sick.
We are lucky to have this business in our town, as it employs a lot of people. How do I tactfully say something without causing a stink in the community? And to whom do I say it? The owner is on the board of some of the organizations that my children are involved in. — Grossed Out in a Small Town
DEAR SMALL TOWN: We are certain the owner would not want to lose the patronage of the community because one of her employees doesn’t use proper hygiene. This is a matter for your local city, state or county health department. You can make an anonymous report, and they should investigate and, if necessary, issue a warning or citation.