Sunday, February 20, 2011

Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica

I started reading the Waiter Rant blog years ago back before the book was published and back when The Waiter was still anonymous.  (Blah, blah, I knew him when, I was reading before it was cool, yadda yadda.)  With that out of the way...

The posts on Waiter Rant were some of the best blog reading I found on the internet.  They were funny, honest, and insightful.  Have you ever wondered what it's like to work in a restaurant?  Perhaps you work or used to work in a restaurant.  During high school I worked as a busboy in two restaurants, one German the other Italian.  (I dropped an entire tray of glassware my first night in the Italian joint and managed to keep my job.)  Regardless, you've at least eaten in a restaurant. Waiter Rant, the book, will make you appreciate the experience more.

Or maybe it'll make us all better diners.  Here's a quote from the preface.  "Foodie-porn TV programming has generated a new class of entitled customers with already overblown culinary expectations and a rapidly diminishing set of social graces.  Twenty percent of the American dining public are socially maladjusted psychopaths.  We should start putting Prozac in the Perrier."   I'm certain you and I are in the well-adjusted 80% but we know who he's writing about.  We've sat next to those rude, imperious, drunk, cheap, touchy people at the next table.  And let's not even get started on parents who let their loud, greasy, stinky brood use the dining room as their personal playpen.  The rant part of Waiter Rant lets you see the experience from the other side of the order pad.

But lest you think Waiter Rant is just that, a rant against the dining public, Dublanica equally skewers kitchen staff, wait staff, and owners centered around The Bistro, his upscale but anonymized employer.  There are tales of substance abuse in the alley, video surveillance in the foyer, sex in the bathroom, and spitting in the food (which Dublanica says he's never done).  There is the story, however, of the hamburger that upon its third return to the kitchen for recooking was used as a hockey puck.

Chapter 1 begins "So, you take it up the ass?"  Which is odd when you consider that Dublanica is a former seminary student.  And corporate marketer.  And rehab counselor.  And I think that's the other half of Waiter Rant - the reasons of how and, more importantly, why he ended up being a waiter.  Dublanica treats those questions literally as he explores why people get into and stay in the business.  But he also treats the question figuratively.  What is he waiting for?  The fact that I'm writing about his first book kinda gives away the answer.

If you read nothing else, go straight to Appendix A, 40 Tips on How to be a Good Customer.  And if all you read is this blog post remember this: tip at least 15 to 20 percent, if you have a favorite waiter your tip should be 20 to 25 percent, and to get and keep a favorite waiter you should ask for them by name and tell your friends to do the same.

Just remember what the great philosopher Dave Barry said: "A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person."


Jim said...

Thanks for the reminder of his book - I had it on the hold system at KCLS before they migrated systems and it "fell off a truck." Back on it goes.

Enjoyed his blog a lot a few years ago, when he was still anonymous. In many ways, his stories weren't too dissimilar from the ones from the anonymized physician blogs I used to follow.

John said...

Jim, I will have to admit that since the book came out I don't read the blog anymore. It's not the same.