A popular blogger offers behind-the-scenes tales about working the front of the house.
After defecting from seminary and losing his subsequent job, the author took a temporary position as a server in an upscale New York restaurant. Six or seven years later, much to his own surprise, he was still waiting tables and anonymously recording his experiences at WaiterRant.net. In the casual, confessional tone of a seasoned blogger, The Waiter tells of corruption, intrigue, drug abuse, heated romance and of course tips, weaving it all into a humorously detailed memoir. Restaurant work can be emotionally toxic and brutalizing, he reveals. Living outside the nine-to-five world’s boundaries warped and changed him and his fellow servers. Holidays became a source of stress, not joy, and accepting a friend’s Friday night dinner invitation amounted to sacrificing hundreds of dollars in unearned pay. Worst of all were the bad customers, many of whom exhibited an astonishing level of self-absorption and entitlement. Required to endure abuse with a smile, many waiters unsurprisingly blew their night’s tips on drinks after hours. Still, the life of a server wasn’t all groveling and bingeing; some learned, as The Waiter did, to wield subtle, psychological control over even the most recalcitrant customers. He’s good on psychological analysis too: His taxonomy of tippers comes complete with shrewd assessments of their various motivations, such as the mistaken assumption of “the verbal tipper” that heaping on praise will make up for a shoddy tip. The author began to relish the intimate glimpses he got into diners’ personal lives, and underneath his hard-earned cynicism he seems justifiably proud of his progress in a difficult job.
A heartfelt, irreverent look at the underbelly of fine dining.