Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And for anyone who has waited tables...

And here's a reposted review of Waiter Rant, by Steve Dublanica.  Waiting tables is another job I used to do and hope not to do again.

  • Confessions of a real live waiter...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      October, 19 2009
  • Pros: Funny, well-written, and relevant to anyone who has either dined out or waited tables.
    Cons: None for me.
    I have developed a special empathy for those who wait tables. About eleven years ago, I was struggling to get myself launched into some kind of career and decided to take a job waiting tables at The Trellis restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had never waited tables before, but I had watched my three older sisters do it successfully. I figured I could handle it. After 18 stressful months, I eventually got the hang of waiting tables and the job did help me move on to bigger and better things. However, the experience definitely left an indelible impression on me and made me realize that I'm not cut out for service industry work. Nevertheless, after my stint waiting tables, I'm still left remembering the experience and feeling like I can commiserate with others as to what the job is like. That's pretty much why I decided to read Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, written by Steve Dublanica.

    I found out about Waiter Rant by cruising around the Internet. Someone had mentioned Dublanica's wildly popular blog by the same name and I went to read it. In the course of reading Dublanica's blog, I learned that he had started the blog anonymously back in 2004 and went to great pains to protect his identity as well as that of the place where he was working. He referred to the place as The Bistro and related all kinds of hilarious and poignant anecdotes about his bosses, co-workers, and customers. Impressed with Dublanica's witty writing style, I ended up reading his blog for several hours and then ordered his book, which had pretty much forced him to give up his anonymity.

    I was hoping the book, Waiter Rant, would be as good as the blog was. Dublanica didn't disappoint me, as he explained how it was that he had gotten into waiting tables as a guy in his thirties. Dublanica explains that people who wait tables generally fall into three different categories: those who don't know what they want to do, those who are learning to do something, and those who are professionals. I found myself really relating to Dublanica's observations about why he was waiting tables. The money can be fairly good and it's mostly paid in cash at the end of every shift. The hours are generally pretty flexible. And the work, while definitely hard at times, is often interesting... or, at least it's often busy, which makes the time go faster.

    The trouble is, waiting tables is the kind of job where one can get stuck for years. I have a hunch that was what had happened to Dublanica. He had a real desire to be a writer, but like so many other people, he was afraid of failure. So he settled for waiting tables for awhile and eventually became a manager at "The Bistro", where he ended up mining plenty of "food for thought" for his blog, which later turned into his very entertaining book.

    As I read Waiter Rant, I found myself remembering some of my own experiences as a restaurant server. For instance, Dublanica writes about how waiters who work in fine restaurants find themselves thinking they should be eating what their patrons eat. They often develop and broaden their culinary palates to a point that goes beyond their budgets. I know I developed more of an appreciation for fine foods and liquors after I worked at The Trellis. Unfortunately, my love for good food now shows a lot more than it did when I waited tables. I also found myself nodding in agreement when Dublanica writes about waiters who work when they're sick, waiters who have substance abuse problems, and waiters and other restaurant workers who are working illegally.  He also outlines the different types of customers one runs into while waiting tables.  It's amazing how some people behave when they're out to eat.  Some people are wonderful, friendly, and generous... and some people, well, are generous only with attitude and grief.  Frankly, I think the way a person treats a waiter is often a good reflection of the type of person they are.

    Dublanica has a way of communicating with his readers as if he's in a room, talking to them one on one. His writing has a definite conversational style that is engaging and unabashed. I think it will appeal to fellow waiters and ex-waiters because they will recognize Dublanica's experiences in the trenches. I think it will appeal to those who haven't waited tables because besides being entertaining, it's very informative. At the end of the book, Dublanica adds several irreverent appendices on subjects ranging from how to order wine without looking like a twit, to things that every waiter would love to tell their customers, to signs that the restaurant you're working in is dysfunctional. I think I liked the dysfunctional list the best, since I related to so much of it.

    Anyway, I highly recommend Waiter Rant to anyone who wants to know what it's like to be in the trenches, serving fine food at a busy restaurant. I would also recommend it to those who are now going down that road or have been there before.

    For those who want a little taste of Waiter Rant, here's the address for Steve Dublanica's blog: www.waiterrant.net

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