Satire | Egomania at the restaurant: How to assert your authority when out to eat

By Thomas Riley, Staff Columnist

A restaurant is an ideal spot to take any date, business partner or peer you wish to impress. In a dining establishment, you don’t owe anybody anything, and everyone else must wait on you hand and foot. Working in a corporate environment, I often find there are too many people similar to me, so a restaurant is a nice place to assert myself as a dominant force in the world.

As such, today I am attending a lunch with my business associate. I will show him and the waitstaff that I am an impressive figure. Of course, I do not care much about the opinion of the waitstaff, as they are rather unimportant — and overpaid, in my opinion.

I will arrive at the restaurant 10 minutes before our scheduled meeting time because I want to be in control of the situation. When my colleague walks in, he will wander the restaurant like a lost child searching for his mother while I will maintain a position of perfect prowess, my legs spread wide in our booth.

I inform the hostess — also overpaid — that I would like a table for two. She brings me to a small table in the middle of the restaurant. This is not ideal, as the middle of the room leaves me surrounded by the other patrons and limits my ability to survey the land. Without telling anyone, I move to a larger booth along a side wall. Much better.

My associate arrives, and as expected, he flounders about the main seating area. I allow him to shamefully search the tables for a few more seconds before I loudly call his name, alerting the entire restaurant to his incompetence. I beckon him like a dog.

Certainly sheepish and embarrassed, he sits down in the booth. I greet him casually, but with a hint of pity — I want him to know that I do not hold him in high regard. Oddly, he maintains his composure and greets me with a smile, as though he did not even notice his foolish display mere moments before.

Our waiter, a rather unattractive individual, greets us and takes our drink order. I allow my colleague to order first so that I can order something more impressive. He orders a Coke. I order a rum and Coke. At this, our waiter makes a face, somehow uglier than the one tragically stuck to the front of his head, but he says nothing.

When he returns, he brings two Cokes. Restraining my immense fury toward the ineptitude displayed by this waiter, I politely remind him that I ordered rum with my soda. He informs me the rum is mixed in with the soda. How ridiculous. I send it back and ask for a shot of rum and a glass of Coke.

To my surprise, he returns with the correct drink order. I dismiss him, and once he is gone, I down the shot of rum without using the Coke as a chaser. I give a subtle, yet appropriately pompous grin toward my colleague. Undoubtedly, he must feel rather effeminate and impotent in this moment.

As I already know what I wish to order — the most expensive item on the menu, obviously — I announce that I will use the restroom. I never say I need to use the restroom, as this implies a dependence and inferiority to my bladder. 

While I urinate, I track how long it has been since I left to determine how uncomfortable my coworker must feel. Everyone else perceives him as a friendless, unloved individual eating all alone. By the time I finish in the restroom, he will desperately yearn for my company — for me.

Yet, when I return to the table, he calmly reads the menu, as though he cared very little about my absence. I do not spot any beads of sweat collecting at his receding hairline.

Our hideous waiter stops by once more for our food order. After we give it to him, I command him to split the check. Normally, I tell them to do this at the end of our meal in order to make their life more difficult, but I fear our waiter may have believed that the two of us are on a date. This would be terrible.

After about 10 minutes of delightful — and, by extension, power dynamic-defining — conversation, our food arrives. Under my breath, but loudly enough for our troll of a waiter to hear, I mutter, “finally.” My time is very important.

He frowns and leaves. I can only hope that I go blind before he comes back to check on us.

I now have two options. Most would eat intentionally sloppily to indicate to their dining partner that they do not care or hold any respect for them. I prefer a more uncommon strategy. I eat with perfect elegance and grace. Never do my elbows touch the tables, nor do I allow my mouth to open in the slightest while chewing. I am an unattainable standard of restaurant etiquette — an infallible piece of dining machinery.

In an inevitable turn of events, my acquaintance clumsily drops a piece of his food in his lap. A warm feeling overcomes me, for I have won this portion of our meal together. Strangely, he still manages to laugh it off. Even in the face of my superior dining performance, he maintains the facade that he does not care, or even notice.

As we finish our meals, the waiter leaves us our separate checks. He says to have a nice day, but I will have a terrible day. I refuse to take orders from this free trial of a butler.

On the tip line, I leave a note informing him that his face greatly offended my eyeballs and thus I will not leave gratuity. I ponder for a moment. I then leave a second note below that one advising him not to be too disappointed, as I would not have left a tip anyway because waiters are overpaid.

My business partner and I leave the restaurant. Through great planning and intense focus, I succeeded in asserting my power in our dynamic and in the world. It seems odd to me that my associate would continue to fake his enjoyment despite the crushing social defeat he experienced. Perhaps he did not even realize the full extent of it. Some people just lack social awareness.


Thomas Riley primarily writes social satire and stories about politics and philosophy. Write to them at [email protected]