As a food server, I have noticed that more and more restaurant patrons tend to say they are allergic to one type of food or another, and it has become increasingly difficult for the waiters to work with the customers on one hand and with the kitchen staff on the other.

In a high-volume restaurant, it is considered a big deal to cook for patrons with food allergies, as the kitchen assembly line has to be interrupted in order to create a particular dish. Despite the inconvenience, most restaurants are always willing to take care of their customers who have special needs.

But what really bothers the dining community are the increasing number of people who simply crave attention when dining out.

Not too long ago, I had a customer who said she was allergic to broccoli. Really? I am no medical expert, but the only side effect that you can get from broccoli is a little bit of gas, and as far as I know that is considered to be a body's natural function.

Another time, a customer said she did not want the mashed potatoes that came with her entree because she was allergic to potatoes; however, she wanted french fries as a substitution. I said, "Ma'am, I thought you said that you were allergic to potatoes." She quickly responded, "Just give it to me." So I complied; after all, customers are always right, and my tip depends on my good customer-service skills.

My heart goes out to those who truly suffer from severe food allergies, and I always try my best to satisfy their needs. But I find it hard to feel the same for people who are just using food allergies as an excuse for extra services.

MARICELA VEGA

Ocean City