Have you ever heard of The Spirit of the Staircase? It's a French term (L'esprit de l'escalier) that is defined as the act of thinking of the perfect response to someone in a situation, but only after the fact. It purportedly gets its name from thinking of this excellent response, but only after you left the part/function/gathering where the best response would've been: literally exiting the event and "what I should have said was..." entering your brain as you traverse down the stairs away from the venue.
Oftentimes, TikToks go viral that touch upon this very phenomenon: there are throngs of individuals who, while commenting on the gall some people seem to have in situations that have already occurred, share what they were thinking or what they wish they would have said in that pressurized moment where they were taken off guard.
Perhaps these videos they upload are a means of rehearsing what they should've done in that situation — a way for them to stand up for themselves, come what may, should anyone else make them feel awkward or feckless in the future.
Or maybe it's just a way for them to air their grievances and try to feel a bit better after the fact, or perhaps these types of clips go viral because other people, too, are horrified by the gall that other individuals seem to display on a daily basis. A TikToker named Francesca (@francesca.talks) found herself in one of these Spirit of the Staircase situations while buying lunch at a Panera location.
She shared how in a viral TikTok while completing a "You Pick Two" order, she learned that she received a side: she was given three options: a baguette, a bag of chips, or an apple.
Francesa had a hankering for a baguette, but as she relays in her viral clip, this wasn't a selection the Panera employee approved of, and they weren't afraid of letting a subsequently shocked Francesca know that.
"I got food shamed at Panera today. Food shamed...at Panera. All right, so I go in there for a little lunch, all right, I'm not there often. I literally never go there. But I thought why not today? So we go in. I'm ordering. I'm doing a little pick-two action, all right? So I'm getting a sandwich and a salad I go the lady I'm like hey, can I have this sandwich and then I'm gonna have for my pick two I'll have a salad and she's like okay perfect."
"Then she goes actually with your sandwich you get a side. You can either pick chips, an apple, or a baguette. And I say naturally, a baguette."
Apparently, this was the wrong choice to make, according to the Panera employee, as the TikToker states. "She looks at me, dead stare, for five seconds, it was a heavy silence."
Quite the dramatic build-up for the inevitable food shaming comment that was about to be hurled her way: "And she goes, are you sure? Like your sandwich is a baguette. I'm sorry, I actually don't remember asking you and I was like oh, hahaha, like I was sure just a second ago but now I'm super unsure because you're making me question it, thank you."
Francesca conceded that she was ultimately influenced by the Panera employee's in-the-moment food shaming: "And she goes you could get an apple an apple sounds nice. An apple sounds nice to you, to you it sounds nice, to me, the bread sounded nice, okay, so I said I'll take the apple."
Numerous commenters who saw Francesca's post seemed to share in her outrage and shock at the employee's brazenly vocal disapproval of her choice of side.
"Mam oh I’m sorry I didn’t realize I was at Panera Apple, thought I was at Panera BREAD," one person penned.
Another penned, "my go-to Panera order is a sandwich, mac and cheese, and a baguette i treat it like im carb loading for the Olympics"
Someone else couldn't believe that a worker was acting like an "almond mom" while another said they would've gotten plenty aggressive if someone decided to come at them for wanting a baguette: "The actual audacity because WHAT. I would have gone to jail that day"
Francesca said that she "immediately turned into a 5yr old when" the employee had her redirect her selection, and admitted in another on her own post that "the apple is still in [her] purse"