Waiter Rant

When Amy and I were at the Tea Room a couple weeks ago a man walked in with a small group and proceeded to raise a ruckus. He didn’t like the table they assigned. He didn’t like the next table. He got angry and firm, finally taking a table near the back despite the protest of the staff. Quite rude and quite thinking he was the only one in the restaurant.

When he sat down his mother, who likely taught him such behavior, said, “First you give them a chance to do it right, then you help them do it right.”

We laughed out loud. Their assumption of what they were owed did not disguise the fact they were merely boors.

I’m glad I don’t have to deal with such people every day.

But waiters and waitresses do.

The author of Waiter Rant started out thinking he would like to help people as a priest. He began to study for the priesthood but left when the corruption and the scandals started getting too much. Had a degree in psychology and tried his hand in the mental health care business. Also corrupt and scandal-ridden. Stayed honest, got fired.

Wandered around a little. His brother got him a job in a restaurant. Also corrupt and scandal-ridden, but at least there are no illusions. Stays a waiter. Moves to a nicer place. Begins to write about his experiences on a blog. Then in this book.

That’s the background.

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical WaiterThe book is a memoir of sorts, but not a typical kind. It’s anonymous. It also dwells on a particular setting and makes particular points along the way. It’s a memoir with a mission, and this is to illuminate the often hidden world of restaurants. The Waiter, as he is known, touches on important concepts such as management, illegal immigration, rude customers, good and bad service, holidays, waiter revenge, hygiene, and assorted other topics. Each chapter has a particular theme.

Yet, these themes aren’t at all obvious at first. The writing is that good. The Waiter is brilliant at showing not telling, that tricky art that foils lesser writers. We are given a story, not a mere rant. He is descriptive, insightful, observing, and honest. The themes are held within an overall story that is his life, a life that has many twists and turns and disappointments.

These disappointments and disillusionment become our boon, however. Because of his background, and his great capability, we are given a wonderful view into an often disguised world. The Waiter brings to bear not only his expertise at his profession, but also psychological and spiritual insights, making this book a surprising deep read. But never overbearing and certainly never self-righteous. The honesty sometimes ventures into the vulgar, but always understandably so. It’s not only the story of a man trying to find his way and providing great commentary as he goes. It’s also a manual of restaurant etiquette and personalities, becoming a mirror to our often unconsidered actions.

This really is a great book, amazing insight and amazing writing throughout. Profound and readable, all while dwelling on often mundane issues. I’m going to be recommending this to most everyone I know.

Now, I sort of wish he went back into the priesthood, or maybe tried out being a Protestant pastor. I can only imagine how good he would do looking at the convoluted world of church life. But, I suspect his mission is greater than that.

He’s a waiter. He’s really a writer. And this book should be bought. Waiter Rant is a brilliant book. Ten stars if I could.

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