Monday, December 29, 2008

Certainly with a smile

This fall, I was thrilled to discover that I was not the only one who, all smiles and happy nods, used the phrase "Certainly!" when they really meant "You stupid jerk/screw you/you demanding wench." Etc.

I'd been recounting a story of some really bitchy group of women, and when I came to the part where I said, "Ceeeertainly," my colleague piped up, "Ha! I say that too! It means 'fuck you!'" Before this, I hadn't really been aware of how often I said this word, and how I usually meant something else. It's my little way of coping, of maintaining some insanity when a customer astonishes me with ignorance or impoliteness.

Only once did I suspect a customer was on to me. The "lyyyyy" lingered for five seconds and my token accommodating servant smile crossed into utterly insincere, betraying my dismay at this rude, intolerable woman's demands and criticisms of the menu. She stared at me as if I had actually cursed, and I knew I was found out. And I was glad.

I'm certain I'm not the only one who has this kind of secret synonym - maybe behind all the "My pleasure"s, "Right away"s, and "Of course,"s you've got a cornucopia of cursewords designed to relieve some of the pressure of high demands and unreasonable requests that are so common in restaurants, cafes. It's why I try hard to be liberal with saying "please, if you wouldn't mind, is it at all possible, sorry to bother you, thank you." Seems obvious, but surprisingly lacking a lot of the time. You know you're in trouble if someone replies "Certainly" with a suspiciously toothy grin.

1 comment:

Errant Gosling said...

I can relate. I endured the same thing working in restaurants, and I haven't escaped it since. Glad you can indulge in the code word.