I watch the table in front of me bark orders at the waiter. He scrambles backwards into the kitchen. After he’s done filling their requests, he circles to my table. He bends over to clear the plate in front of me. I’ve eaten everything, there’s barely any indication that there was food on the plate.
“How was the meal?” he asks, in clear English.
“Terrible. I want my money back,” I respond jokingly, before I can realize where I am.
A look, not of horror, but resignation crosses his face. Shit. My mind goes to an Economist article that talked about the difficulty in conveying sarcasm in Germany.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” I say quickly. “I meant it as a joke because I ate everything.”
There’s no light of realization that crosses his eyes. It seems to still be lost. I try again.
“It was really good. Thank you.”
“It’s the house specialty,” he says quickly as he clears the plate. He leaves in a hurry, which doesn’t seem sheepish, but an escape from the conversation.
I can’t blame him. Despite my best efforts, I’m probably as much work for him as the table that’s been snapping their fingers at him all night.
Also published on Medium.