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Here is one story retold, albeit with a pithier ending:
From Dan Zante:
What I SHOULD have said for the "What I should have said..."
What happened: Well a few months ago I posted something on here about how I was serving at an Olive Garden and I served a lady luke-warm coffee so I put hot water in it to heat it up. When she "called me on it" I reponded politely with an "I'm sorry ma'am", but for my "What I should have said" I put something completely lame and I got blasted for it by the readers so hopefully here's a better comeback:
(Setup: She says, "Hey! You put hot water in my coffee! What are you trying to pull!?")
What I said: This is what my "staircase wit" was: "Ma'am, do you have any idea how vital water is to the coffee making process? How do you think it goes from bean to liquid? You're welcome!" (clever, huh!)
What I SHOULD have said: Lady, you expecting no hot water in your coffee is like me expecting a good tip from anybody here - it would be nice but it just isn't going to happen.
The French call it l'esprit d'escalier, "the wit of the staircase," those biting ripostes that are thought of just seconds too late, on the way out of the room-or even, to tell the truth, days later. It's happened to you: you've suddenly thought of just what would put your foe in his or her place, but past the time when the arrow could sting its victim. You've stewed in your own juice ever since, and the chance for singeing repartee is gone forever.
Or is it?
Dorothy Parker or Oscar Wilde may have had the rapier wit to tweak their tormentors on the spot, but for the rest of us, we offer the Internet's only L'esprit d'escalier web site!