Monday, February 4, 2013
According to The Waiter, eighty percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat. The remaining twenty percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths. Waiter Rant offers the server's unique point of view, replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogant misbehavior, and unseen bits of human grace transpiring in the most unlikely places. Through outrageous stories, The Waiter reveals the secrets to getting good service, proper tipping etiquette, and how to keep him from spitting in your food. The Waiter also shares his ongoing struggle, at age thirty-eight, to figure out if he can finally leave the first job at which he's truly thrived.
Similar to the synopsis describes, Waiter Rant is 20% funny stories about working in the restaurant industry and 80% psychobabble and reflections by Waiter on why he's still a waiter.
Not to say that this was a bad book, far from it. Steve Dublanica writes very well, but this wasn't really what I was expecting. I was expecting a book full of funny, horrifying or sad stories about being a waiter in a high end restaurant. Instead, I got a book about a man going through an early mid-life crisis bemoaning the fact that he was still, at 38, a lowly waiter. The Waiter will quickly admit his faults, but one I think he's even slow to understand is that he does have a serious disdain for waiters. He does believe that they are unworthy and have something to be ashamed of. It comes across in his voice throughout the book.
He spends most of the book talking about his life. What he did before becoming a waiter, what he'd rather be doing instead of being a waiter, what he hopes to be doing instead of being a waiter, etc. He strives to show the reader how well read he is, how smart he is and how he knows everything. It gets kind of boring after awhile and I found myself skimming over paragraphs about how he contemplates. He says that word a lot (or at least it felt like it though when I did a search for 'contemplate' it came up with 5 different instances).
And revealing the 'secrets to getting good service' and all that jazz? That's part of the '40 Tips on How to Be a Good Customer' thrown in at the end of the book as an Appendix. He's also given us '50 Ways to Tell You're Working in a Bad Restaurant' (in which I'm pretty sure I could check off at least 70% of those). And then finally there's 'Items a Waiter Should Carry at All Times (or Have Close By)'. Both funny and slightly depressing. I think I was expecting the book to be more like his blog, but it was more of the journey from his blog to this book and that's okay.
The book brought back memories, both good and bad, of my waitress/cocktailing/bartending/managing experiences. I wouldn't trade those days for anything, but sometimes his broad generalizations of how shitty things can get were spot on. There were certain truths that made me miss working in a restaurant, having that group of co-workers unlike any other place I've worked. Sure, you have the catty bitches you can't stand just like anywhere else, but there has never been a job where the people I worked with felt more like my family than my own family at times.