I really didn’t like when you were mean to that girl on Saturday, my boyfriend mentioned in his sweet adorable soft spoken voice out of nowhere two days later when I saw him Monday night at the spectacular DCFC concert at Walt Disney Hall.
I had totally forgotten about the whole “incident” but apparently it was bothering him so much that he brought it up again two days later to tell me that it bothered him, even though he had already told me as much right after it happened.
I asked him if the tomato soup incident to which he was referring was really as bad as all that.
I just like it when you’re nice, he said. Can you get more diplomatic than that? And yet for him, this felt like a stinging rebuke.
Was I really that awful? I suppose I was rude, but if someone’s rude to you first, how nice are you supposed to be back? Perhaps he was shocked because I’m usually a stickler when it comes to being courteous and well-mannered.
Let me explain the circumstances regarding the incident. Saturday evening, we were at a wedding reception, where the food was provided by a food truck. The reception was only from 5 to 7 and contrary to my usual modus operandi, we were perfectly on time. However, from the moment we arrived, there was a long line of guests waiting to order dinner from the truck. Because of the timing of the wedding, I had unintentionally skipped lunch, so although I was starving when we arrived, I hate waiting in line even more, so we chatted with friends for an hour and a half. By 6:30, most everyone had eaten, there was absolutely no line at the truck, and my diplomatic boyfriend and I made our way to the driveway. By the time we got to the window, it was just after 6:35 and I knew just what I wanted.
The gourmet truck had many indulgent foodie options, but being a vegetarian, my options were very limited. There was a vegetable option, which looked like a lot of cucumber but there was also a grilled cheese and tomato soup option. What are weekends for if not to indulge? I ordered my grilled cheese.
That’s just for the children. We have to wait to make sure there’s enough for all the kids.
I checked my watch again. About twenty minutes left for the whole wedding. I looked around. It seemed most everyone had eaten or was at the dessert bar. I looked back at the girl inside the food truck. She looked about my age. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so offended if she hadn’t take so much obvious pleasure in saying no to me. But there was a clear power play going on. I could understand if this was an hour ago and there was a huge line, but the party was over. Either she had enough left to feed me or she didn’t.
Ok, when will you know? I inquired. And I’m not going to lie. I said this like a bitchy sorority girl replying to a guy who just told her he doesn’t know if he can go with her to the Greek formal or not.
I don’t know, she shot back, like she was Queen of Grilled Cheese Land and she could deny any subject she didn’t like the looks of a yummy sandwich at her whim. Well, I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction.
Ok, I’ll come back, fake smile plastered onto my face. I was going to beat her at her own game.
Do you want something else for now? Here’s the thing, having been a waitress earlier on my life, I have an incredible amount of sympathy for people in the service industry. It’s a hard job and no matter where I am or what kind of mood I’m in, I make it a priority to be polite to servers and bussers at restaurants, bellman at hotels, even people who answer calls from 800 numbers. I hang up the clothes I leave in dressing rooms. If I have terrible service at a restaurant which is pretty rare these days, I would never tip less than 15%. In fact, if this girl had taken my order in a restaurant, I still would have tipped her 15% because I don’t like to mess with people’s wages. However, if she starts it, how nice do I really have to be back?
No, thank you, I’ll just wait, I’m a vegetarian. I added this because I thought it might elicit some sympathy. It wasn’t like I had the option of having the pulled pork everyone was raving about or the jerk chicken or the other meaty things people were salivating over.
We have the vegetarian dish. I again weighed my options of vegan vegetables with bread or delicious hot grilled cheese dipped in creamy tomato soup. She was still shooting death-rays at me with her eyes.
No, I’ll just wait. My hunger wasn’t helping the situation and I knew everything I was saying came out in a tone that can only be defined at its very best as snarky.
The potatoes are vegetarian. I knew what she was doing and it was sneaky. See, if she could get me to order the veggie dish or sides, then I’d eat it and I’d be too full to come back, so she would win. But I couldn’t let that happen. Plus, as good as the fried potatoes with aioli looked, I couldn’t have that and grilled cheese for dinner. Some restraint was required.
When should I come back? At this point, she seemed surprised my determination.
I don’t know, ten minutes, she said with equal measure of bitch inflection.
Ok, I’ll come back.
My boyfriend had been behind me the whole time. We walked away and he told me as sweetly as he could that I was mean. But she had started it, hadn’t she?
I didn’t wait the full ten minutes. From the table we sat at, I could still see the truck. No one was ordering anything. I looked around for all the poor hungry children who I would practically be forcing to starve if I got what I wanted. It appeared that all the kids had already eaten or gone home. The dessert bar had been demolished. How was it not obvious, THE CHILDREN HAD EATEN! About five minutes later, I got up and marched in my high heels right over to the window.
Hi, do you have enough now?
She gave me half a fake smile and said she had to check. Apparently, I had worn her down. She came back and said it was fine. Of course it was fine! You had fed almost everyone already, I thought. I didn’t see why she couldn’t have just done that five minutes ago.
I came back to the table with delicious hot melty grilled cheese, which was so rich I could only finish half of it.
I kind of forgot about it after that. But apparently, it had so disturbed my Mr., he had been thinking about it for two days. I thought back on my behavior. Had I really been that bad? The thing was, it really felt personal. Like this girl looked me up and down and was getting a kick out of saying no to me. I had seen her take orders from other people and she used a sweet voice that she did not use with me.
But still, do we as women reserve the right to answer bitchiness with more bitchiness? I know there’s a lot to be said for being the bigger person and in many situations I firmly believe in that. But are there ever situations where it’s simply ok to be a bitch? Was there any harm in me using a tone I usually reserve for impressions of my sister as a teenager? I didn’t want to start anything, but I don’t believe in being a push-over either.
Can one simultaneously argue for confronting the world with politeness and still feel a bitchy girl deserves to be bitched at back? I like to think so. But then again, it was disheartening to feel like I had embarrassed the man I love. All over a tone of voice. My birthday is tomorrow and perhaps I’m reaching the age, where it’s time to put my inner-brat in my back-pocket. Or at least, I’m going to make an honest attempt to from now on. Perhaps, it’s not a terrible thing if I let him make me a kinder person. Plus, I can always make fun of her behind her back…
PS – Monday May 14th at 11am, I’ll be on the Dennis Prager radio show live to discuss my earlier political columns on dating a Republican. You can stream it live from KRLA AM 870 or download it from his website after it airs.