Pretending I Don’t Know You Work Here: Passive Aggressive Much?

Waitress Ghost World 2001 movie
Scarlett Johansson probably had it right.

Dumb Shit I Say to Restaurant Management

I confess: sometimes I get bugged by the dumbest, littlest things.

And yeah, I act like an asshole.

But it comes from a… never mind. Nope. I act like an asshole.

One thing that seems to cue that raging, jerkface inside me is whenever the wife and I — or the family and I, or my own solo self — are out at a nice-ish restaurant and a well-meaning manager comes up to our table, mid-meal, to check how everything is going.

This would all be very sweet and non-jerk-inviting, in my twisted logic, if only the host or manager came dressed in the restaurant’s uniform, or sporting a name tag, instead of wearing “civilian” clothes.

Honestly, the first time it happened, at a brewpub in our hometown, I was befuddled for a half second, thinking a fellow patron had wandered over to our table, wanting to chat about how our meal was going, or the quality of the crease in the napkins, or something.

For a half-second I thought that, then I decided to mess with them.

You know, to be a jerkface.

What’s even jerkier-faced is that I keep doing it. It goes something like this:

Well-meaning Waitstaff: “HI! SO! HOW IS EVERYTHING TONIGHT?” (Beaming a nuclear-furnace grin.)

Jerkface Me: (After jumping a half-foot. Or doing a double-take. Or, slyly, looking up mid-bite.) “Oh, we’re doing well. How is everything with you?”

WMWS: (not getting it) “Just great. How is your meal?”

JFM: “Awesome. How’s yours?” (hinting strongly)

WMWS: “Oh, I won’t be eating for awhile tonight.”

JFM: (hinting even more strongly) “What? You haven’t been served yet? What about your family? Where are you sitting?”

WMWS: (beginning to get it) “Oh, I’m with (insert restaurant name). JUST COMING BY TO CHECK ON YOUUUUUUU!” (nuclear furnace grin is back)

JFM: (dry as rye toast) “Ah gotcha I couldn’t quite be sure because you aren’t wearing a uniform or any identification or anything.”

Blah, blah, blah. Something to that effect.

In this sane phase, as I’m writing this, well after the fact, I can understand, completely, how my wife might take up my fork and gleefully stab me through the palm with it at the close of my little act. But in the moment, this banter always seems awfully clever. And like a record-skipping, or the famous athlete who once talked about playing every game hard in case it was the first time someone had come to see him play, I keep trotting out this tired performance.

Oh? You WORK here? (GASP) I couldn’t tell!

All right. At least I’m self-aware. Total jerkface move.

I mean, I’m not responsible for the dress code. And if someone manages a restaurant and wants to shun the apron and flair and make meaningful conversation with their patrons, why should I patronize them instead?

So, I’ll file this sanity in the bank and withdraw it on the next such occasion. Or else prepare to dodge the fork.

But I am NOT budging on my response to when they ask “Are you still working?”

Jerkface Me: Working? No, I’m trying to enjoy my meal here.”

I’ll try and work harder to do just that.

Dicks Last Resort Myrtle Beach 1997
At least at Dick’s Last Resort, shown here circa 1997 in Myrtle Beach, the waitstaff dishes it out worse than they take it. Our waiter is lounging in our arms in front; we, the crazy humanity, display our unruliness.

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