Like any good story, it all began with margaritas. Hope and I were working the bar at El Rey with narry a customer in sight, an unusual scene for a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Cloverdale. She posted a selfie of us with an accompanying request for comrades to come tell us jokes and buy our tequila.
Jim and McGowan answered that call.
As we all hung out while Hope and I made cocktails, we got to venting about a certain sense of elitism that has penetrated our beloved community. In short, assholes exist and they are unregulated. And I’ll go ahead and say it: a wildly popular Facebook group, Lunch in the Gump, is a safe haven for them.
Lunch in the Gump is a good idea in theory. It’s a place for folks to review restaurants in and around Montgomery, but you can imagine the ugliness that occasionally rears its head. Some reviewers are all too quick to call for the end of a teenager’s job because they IDed them for the purchase of alcohol. Or, heaven forbid your grits arrive luke warm. The humanity! These angry people, of course, hold themselves to a different standard.
I left the group several years ago because I didn’t need that negativity in my life. The group was just never meant for someone like me. I understand that all servers have bad days, which is beyond the comprehension of most members.
So McGowan, Jim, Hope, and I are around the bar at El Rey and naming this unfortunate trend of Lunch in the Gump to cater to the self-righteous. The group has twenty-eight thousand members, so it’s obviously not a failure. But the wheels have flown off this thing.
We joked about the idea of a satire group. A counter-culutural response to Lunch in the Gump, in which we unironically complain about the complainers. But then we weren’t joking, and the idea seemed too good to pass. And so Petty in the Gump was born with us four hoodlums as its administrators. Our goals were small and ill-defined. Honestly, it was an experiment and we wanted to see what would happen if we gave our friends a spot on the internet where they could make fun of what they needed to without hiding under the veil of pretending to be a food critic. We embraced the pettiness.
Political commentary began to fly right off the bat, with commentators chiming in on this trainwreck of a presidency. Restaurant customers were also an early and popular target, and it was a relief to many to see wait staffs fight back. Many jokes were crude and often unfunny, but mostly harmless. Some were serious, some were sarcastic. The best were the ones pointed at other group members. Jim kicked those off with a complaint that Hope and I wouldn’t give him a full lime in his vodka, chewed up and spat back out momma bird style. I found it hilarious.
We’ve banned one member so far and have had a slew remove themselves from the fun. The banned member used the N-word in an incomprehensible post about cheaters. In our private chat, the admins acknowledged that we didn’t want to regulate things too much, because the point of the group should be for people to post their dumb complaints. But we also agreed that certain language would not be tolerated. Our moderator, William, gave the accused a well-worded and petty warning against future posts like that.
Of course, the dummie had to respond by spatting off against all the admins, saying we don’t know her and never will. We believe she genuinely didn’t have racist intent in employing the word, but was just showcasing her vast ignorance. Yelling at the admins and mod was what ultimately did her in, since she couldn’t take the feedback that white people just plain shouldn’t use that language. In true petty fashion, we didn’t kick her out in such a manner that the group is no longer visible to her. We intentionally set it so she could see the group existed, but couldn’t be in it. That part was my idea. 🙂
In retrospect, we should have banned her after the original post.
Other members have left because they never wanted to be a part of the pettiness in the first place (understandable) and their dumb friends signed them up against their knowledge. One guy removed himself when he saw that we booted the racist, saying he grew up in the hood and could speak however he wanted. For context, he is also white. Doncha just love it when the unwelcome filter themselves out?
It has been one week since the idea came into fruition and we have 350 members. Posts have largely been memes and inside jokes, with a heavy dose of sass and unchallenged pettiness.
Nobody has complained that their grits are not hot enough.