My informant AL is my classmate from the ANTH 333 course offered at USC.
“80-6”. E.g. ’80-6 staff’ or ’80-6 nice people
AL heard this joke through her work as a waitress. ’80-6’ is a term used in the restaurant industry to indicate that something was missing in the kitchen. The waitstaff would often incorporate this job-specific term into jokes throughout the day to alleviate tension and boredom.
I would interpret this joke as a means of building comradery around a communal experience. In this case, the communal experience is the job of the waitstaff. Working as a waitress can often be tedious and strenuous work. The ’80-6’ jokes could be a way of finding enjoyment from their shared job and the fact that other people are going through a similar experience. Furthermore, using terms specific to a particular occupation intensifies the feelings of an ‘in-group’ overall making the experience of working at a restaurant more social and enjoyable.