Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Waiter Rant

Book Review: Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of A Cynical Waiter By Steve Dublanica

According to the author there are basically three kinds of waiters:

1. People trying to become something else
2. People's who's lives are falling apart
3. People stuck somewhere in the middle.

Waiter Rant is about a man who goes through all three. It is birthed out of his famous blog about an accidental waiter's thoughts and experiences working at an upscale New York eatery. A man who went to seminary and was bent on becoming a priest, Steve journals his journey that found him ending up as a waiter. An avid reader he blends his theological background, philosophy, psychological insights, dry humor, and naked authenticity into a fascinating story. Of course there are all the crazy stories on how he exacts revenge on customers (his strategic use of flatulence make one's blood run cold), the obligatory horror stories of customers freak outs, debauchery among staff and patrons, and rants about the ethics of tipping. But more, he shows the human side of the approximately 2 million Americans who live the life of a server. Life being a server is not easy and his insights into the challenges and lives of restaurant workers can make you hate them one minute, disgusted at their evil antics, and the next minute getting a lump in your throat as you hear their stories of heartache and pain.

Reading this coarse, crude, and surprisingly vulnerable story of one man's accidental falling into "the industry" brought many flashbacks. It was only eight months ago I too was a server, working my way through school, and it was truly a different world. I miss it. I feel it is a humble and noble occupation, but I feel I've moved on. I too have stories of debauchery, entitled guests, kitchen dramatics, and management errors that would make your head spin. But the stories that stand out to me the most are the common stories of people trying to make their way in the world. Their dreams and hopes. I miss the people. We were at a wedding recently where we were served by servers and I noticed that most of the people at our table treated the servers like they were barely there - no please, no thank you, no smiles. I on the other hand made sure I did all of these things but I worry that I too will forget what I learned - that waiters are people too and deserving of respect and honor.

I struggle to recommend this book as it is so crude (if it was a movie it would be rated "R" or higher), but something in it did touch me. I leave you with one of my favorite pieces from the book. Steve is burning out as a server. During another long night he's just had to go through the uncomfortable situation of asking a tipsy patron to leave. A lady at one his tables says to him:

"I always tell my husband you're a great waiter," she says. "very capable."

"Thank you."

The woman looks at me. She's about fifty, her her faces shows the life she's led, but her eyes are warm and young.

"But overly capable," the woman says. "I saw how you handled that woman. I was watching. You're more then just a waiter. Aren't you?"

I smile broadly. Customers can be very observant.

"Yes, Madam," I reply. "Yes I am."


Elayne said...

Sounds like a book I would like to read were it not for the R rating. Sometimes I just can't force myself to wade through the language. I prefer just plain ordinary English :) If I come across it on the sale rack I may just pick it up!
I guess it goes both ways...sometimes waiters forget it is people they are serving and not just a "Table"?

Jay Boaz said...

Do you own this book or did you borrow it? If you own it I'd like to borrow it; having worked in the industry myself, I'm sure there isn't any language in there that would shock me.

Mark said...

Yes the language is tough to get through and usually I wouldn't even pick it up but I really wanted to hear his thoughts on a topic close to my heart. Sorry Jay, I borrowed it from the library (I think I was #19 on people signed up to get it before me).