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Jul 31, 2008 12:44 PM

"Waiter Rant:" Be careful when pointing fingers, pal.

I watched the previously anonymous author of "Waiter Rant" being interviewed on The Today Show this morning. I'll give the guy his due for writing down his "story" to make a few (million) bucks, but there's a ring of falseness and hypocrisy to it, folks. Basically, he's transcribed every after-work bitch session from the business: Service staffers don't like being whistled for, under-tipped, and called names like "Chief" or "Sport." No shit. But from spitting in food to tableside farting as tactics of revenge, I'm Sorry, this is not only old news, but a doubtful regurgitation of age-old, industry urban myths.
The truth is, out in the open, this guy comes across as the malcontent found on every floor staff in the restaurant universe. Most of us from the business know better. Part of true service professionalism requires an ability to rise above one's pet peeves and the faults and foibles one perceives in the public at large. But not this guy. He lies and tells customers their credit cards are no good, costing his bosses (no doubt) losses to their businesses by his inexcusable, renegade behavior. Simply put, he's no better a human being than those he complains about. As someone who's suffered the misery of staffers like him, I'm guessing he's the kind of guy who missed work for lots of dubious reasons ( tummy-aches and ficticious aunt's funerals), and was not above suspicion of under-tipping his bartenders and busboys. What'ya wanna bet? Now that his cloak of anonymity has dropped, it would be interesting to learn more about him from his former employers, co-workers, and customers, don't 'ya think?

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  1. "I'll give the guy his due for writing down his "story" to make a few (million) bucks"

    You GREATLY overestimate the advances given out by publishing houses for unknown writers.

    1. Have you actually read any of his blog postings? Or are you judging him based upon a promotional appearance, which would have as a goal to hype the book to the largest audience possible.

      He actually comes across as a smart, thoughtful guy, who does have a lot of human kindness. Read his blog posts going back a couple of years and you will see the real person behind "Waiter", and maybe even enjoy some of his stories.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ChinoWayne

        If a guy's going to present himself in a certain way on TV, why not form an opion based on that?

        1. re: mpalmer6c

          Have you seen the video? It strikes me that the interviewers are framing the issue in the best way to sell books AND get viewers and waiter has not yet managed the skill of turning it around. Few ever do.

          I've never found basing all my knowledge on what I've seen on tv to be a good plan. Typically, I like to take a critical look at the media that pretends to direct transmission of information.

          I agree with ChinoWayne's characterisation. The blog was really thoughtful and showed a definite commitment to and appreciation of the art of serving. I'd take Cabbage King's bet because in all my reading of the blog (has CK read it?) I got the feeling that we were dealing with a guy who was a hard worker and, as a professional waiter, not about to screw over his longterm colleagues. His posts were not simply bitch sessions but explorations in types of encounters and how people tried to manage them. I didn't think he was perfect, but the harshness coming from mpalmer and CK seems kind of unwarranted, to me at least.

          1. re: mpalmer6c

            You are going to form an opinion of someone based on an interview that lasted all of two minutes? He just answered the questions that were asked of him. I didn't find anything wrong with the interview. And I also don't see anything wrong with penning a story about the restaurant business. Having worked in the business - both as a cook and a waitress, I personally never saw any of the horrible parts like spitting in food or anything like that. I did hear people wanting to and I think, if I am not mistaken, he didn't do anything to people he wouldn't do to his own family.

        2. Don't know if you've seen this more active thread on the same topic:

          1. This is what you get for watching idiocies like the Today Show. That annoying tool Matt Lauer seemed to want to bring up the "spitting in food" issue with every single question.

            Read the blog; that one sensational aspect that the TV boobs kept harping on accounts for less than 1% of what he talks about. He's a terrific writer: funny, literate, scabrous, often insightful about the industry. I'm about halfway through the book, and having been a faithful reader of his blog, I'd wondered if there'd be enough new material in it to make it worthwhile. There is.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. The book and the blog are two different things. I have read his blog postings. You're right: He has his moments when his opinions of the dining public and the human social animal in general are kinder and gentler. The book, on the other hand, is highlight film of his more scandalous and sensational musings. After all, it's called "Waiter RANT," is it not? Definition of rant? "An extensive and enraged discourse or complaint." Sorry, folks, Waiter may have given vice and virtue equal time in his blog, but he's just dishing (and selling) the dirt in his book, and doing a disservice to a hard-working corner of commerce which, quite frankly, deserves better.

              1. re: cabbageking

                The blog's also called WaiterRANT.... what's the point?

                1. re: cabbageking

                  So, you've read the book? From what I've read of it so far, it doesn't sound like you have. You appear to be confusing the promotion with the content. You can argue that hyping that narrow slice of the book is a disservice to the industry, but you can't blame the author for that.

              2. Having finished the book over the weekend (and enjoying it tremendously), I'd say maybe 15%, no more, of the book is devoted to how waiters get back at nasty customers.

                I guess it should surprise no one that the most vulgar and sensational aspects of the book are the ones seized on by the promoters and the bobblehead interviewers on TV, even if most of the book has little to do with that. I wonder if Dublanica finds that annoying, or just accepts it as the cost of flogging his book.

                12 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  MC Slim JB, if Dublanica finds it annoying why would he allow this so-called small percentage be the focal point of his books promotion? From what I've read his blog followers aren't surprised by what he has to say but I think it is a bit ridiculous to paint his unique perspective as sensationalized by the media. WR wrote the book. He had to know what parts would catch headlines and why. As the OP suggests, he's riding a wave: getting paid for bad behavior (and he's been endorsed by bad-boy Bourdain (who I enjoy) and compared to David Sedaris) is hugely popular at the moment.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I get the impression that most folks think the author is in control of how his book is promoted.

                    Not having published a book myself, I'm uncertain of the process, but I tend to doubt that a first-time author has that kind of power, and essentially must promote his work as his publisher sees fit if he wants a shot at a second book with them.

                    Perhaps some published Chowhound can confirm or deny my guesses here.

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      MC, not to toot my own horn but I've been published (fiction) over 10 years. But that is neither here nor there.

                      The author knows what he wrote. He's been all over tv and the Net enjoying the ride. I don't see or hear him asking for interviewers to move past the sensational parts. He's doing what any new author would do. I just don't like the intent or scope of his rant. Just my own rant I suppose. Thanks for the exchange, MC.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        So, he could flog the book his own way if he really wanted to? Would there be any price for him to pay for doing that?

                        I'll again point to the work rather than the promotion. The book is by turns funny, acid, and quite moving, and hardly turns at all on the bodily-fluid factor. More of a "my journey to becoming a writer" than "bitter screed on a horrible industry". He actually has a lot of good things to say about the industry, the work, his colleagues, and the customers. It's far more memoir and picaresque than expose.

                        One of the things I found interesting about the book vs. the blog -- and maybe this can be credited to a good editor -- is that The Waiter seems a bit more self-aware about his own failings and complicity in his fate, much more honest with himself, like he actually grew up a bit in the process of writing the book. Cool stuff.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          MC, again thanks for your perspective as a reader of WR.
                          I'm glad to hear your reaction was much more positive.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            So, any thoughts on my questions? How much is a first-time author in control of his destiny when promoting his book? What's the downside if he breaks from the promotional script laid out for him by his publishers?

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Speaking from p.e., it depends on the upfront book deal and $'s given upfront (if any). The "art" of promotion includes self-promotion. Your agent coaches you and you strike a balance (if you are lucky). A promotional tour can take on a life of its own depending on initial reviews and public reaction. For a newbie its heady stuff. Fun, scary and somewhere around your 4th book you realize entirely your responsibility to guide. However (imo) WR is not a newbie. His popular blog provided an audience from which he jumped. Many popular bloggers are getting book deals today. WR is all over the Net, not just writings contained on his site. Interesting.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                I guess I'm having trouble following the logic here. Are you're saying that having a blog somehow prepares you for the book promotion process in ways that you don't necessarily understand if you're a first-time author who doesn't come from the blogosphere? How would that work, exactly?

                                Aside from book-tour coverage and third-party references to his blog, where else has his writing appeared beside his own blog? I don't think I've ever seen his work outside of .

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Not at all, MC. What I'm referring to is writing experience. What I'm referring to is a report with your readership; which bloggers not necessarily first-time authors experience. I would recommend a simple search of WR and you'll see his work, self promotion, fan base and more recently his book press.

                                  As for following my logic. Too limited by CH moderation to go there but tyou for the exchange.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    rapport. rapport with the readership.

                                    i haven't read the book but i think it's likely the fellow wrote from his own experience, and his "voice" is in the process of maturing from the tone and format of the blog. the fact that he wishes to grow as a writer and not simply continue to outdo himself ranting is imo respectable. there will always be folks with axes to grind, and journalists who make their living on sensationalism, who will zero in on whatever suits their needs--in any piece of writing.

                                    i haven't been interested in reading this book, but MC Slim's description of the writer's journey aspect of the book now has me piqued. i may have to pick up a copy.

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      sk, I meant report. No need to correct me. Read away. We're all entitled to our perspective. Clearly WR has a fan base. My interest wasn't to spoil his run.

                                2. re: HillJ

                                  I worked in publishing for almost 10 years 5 years at the same house that published Waiter Rant. Even before the book is finished the the publisher, editor and marketing have decided how the book will be marketed and sold. In launch meetings, months and months before the book hits the shelves or in many cases even before the book is finished being written, where the book is introduced to the sales force the tone for the marketing campaign is set. The most salacious, headlining grabbing aspects of the book will be put on the sell sheets and 95% of the time this is also what will make it to the publicity materials. Most interviews for magazine and newspaper articles don't last very long and I'd be surprised if the reporter actually read the entire book. What I do know is that they probably read the publicity materials and they will base their interview on these materials. If the materials start with a quick anecdote about a waiter spitting in food what do you think the reporter is going to ask about?