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An inside look at waiting

By Staff | Dec 29, 2008

You’re hungry. Your stomach’s been talking about it for 20 minutes.

You would’ve chowed down already, but you don’t have a recipe or the ingredients for what you crave. And since that delish dish always tastes better at the restaurant, you might as well go out, right?

Unless you’re eating in your car (20 percent of all meals are eaten in the car) or having fast food (half of us do, at least twice a week) your dining starts with an escort tableside, a menu, and an order given to someone who brings your meal to you. In the new book “Waiter Rant” by The Waiter, you’ll read about years spent in a restaurant, with and without reservations.

Maybe you’ve been served by The Waiter. If not, you’ve been served by someone like him. He doesn’t give you many clues about his identity, other than that he works in Manhattan. His friends know who he is, but he prefers anonymity.

Maybe you’ve read The Waiter’s Web site. There, he writes about his life in the restaurant. The customers he serves. The jerks he’s had the misfortune to wait on. Other waiters and kitchen staff. People whose stories unfold at a window-seat table, small drama in big city, unnoticed by everyone but The Waiter.

He writes about the young couple with their heads together, quietly deciding to start a family as The Waiter discreetly watched. He tells about Mother’s Day debacles and why you should never tell the maitre d’ that you’re a “friend of the owner.” He writes about small kindnesses to those who are homeless and hungry. He remembers favorite customers and the people who made him grit his teeth. And he explains why you should always, always tip generously.

Why would a man stay at a job that aggravated him so? The Waiter wonders that often in his book. Waiting tables and managing a restaurant wasn’t a difficult job. It gave him plenty of time off, which allowed him to write and to develop his Web site. But when the job began to turn sour and The Waiter became bitter, he decided he’d like it to go — permanently.

What’s your favorite restaurant? If you enjoy eating there, you’ll love sinking your teeth into this well-done memoir.

I truly enjoyed this book, not just because I love a good story but also because this book is an eyebrow-raising, I-can’t-believe-anybody-would-do-that, job-voyeur’s dream.

The Waiter — who isn’t so anonymous any more, thanks to TV appearances and media interviews for this book — writes bluntly and with a cynic’s eye. He’s not afraid to tell stories about cutthroat cooks, fellow wait staff, and lots of in-kitchen fighting. He dishes up tales of despicable diners, rude restaurant-goers, and a few favorite customers who obviously made the job less painful. I liked his tone, I liked his anecdotes, and I liked this rant.

No matter which side of the Guest Check you’re on the next time you go to a restaurant, here’s a tip: put “Waiter Rant” on your reading menu. It’s a tasty little dish.

Contact Terri at bookwormsez@graffitiwv.com