From suspenseful reads to literary tweeds…
Are you a good customer or a bad one? I believe that the majority of us would like to think we are good customers when dining out whether we truly are or not. I learned that the art of being a good customer is almost as complex as the art of being a great server.
Have you ever made the squiggly sign when you would like the bill? I have. It is a faux-pas. Ever asked to move tables? I have. We don’t stop to consider that maybe there was a greater plan behind our seating arrangements, do we? Please read Waiter Rant if you want to learn tips and tricks on how to become a great customer who may get preferred service and the best tables at your favourite eatery.
There is only one warning. You may have difficulty speaking after reading this book when interacting with your server. Huh? I’m a moron, right? What am I talking about? Well, I laughed my way through most of the book, remembered bearing witness to rude customers that I have encountered while reading about the author’s experiences and gained insight into what really happens in the front of the house. I learned restaurant lingo and felt like I knew exactly what to do and not do at my next restaurant meal. Dine Out Vancouver was a perfect time for the compassionate customer to come calling. The overworked servers deliver meals flipped out like pancakes from one of those automatic machines and could use a break from the embittered consumer.
What happened? I froze. I knew too much. My dining partner was refusing to order and was likely driving my server crazy. She was also wanting to critique the locale and other items that you wouldn’t want the server to hear. I checked and the server was at the next table reciting the specials. Did you know that sometimes they are listening to other tables when reciting the specials? Yes, they can talk and listen at the same time.
My fish came and it was dry. Not so dry that I really wouldn’t eat it and send it back, but definitely disappointing for where we were. I decided to suck it up after my companion told the server her meal was wonderful, and the server had quickly departed. The cooks were probably tired, sweaty and longing for the night to end. I couldn’t stop wondering if the server had read the book. I finally dared to ask her. She said she thought she read it 10 years ago. I told her it wouldn’t be the same book then. We chatted briefly, and I asked, “Is it true that the percentage of good to bad customers is about 70:30?” She said, at a somewhat quieter decibel, that it was more like 60:40! I decided to tell her about the fish when she was taking the meals away, hoping that they would not overcook it for the next customer. The manager came by our table shortly after. He said my meal was on the house. I insisted that he not do that. Oh God, was I being a bad customer? He would not let me refuse. I blushed intensely. I am in my 40s. I very rarely blush anymore.
When leaving, the server graciously met us at the door and brought up the book. We both laughed as I told her that I was too embarrassed to send back the fish after reading it. She said, “No, we want you to do that.” The woman I was with had heard me for days going on about the stories in the book. She stepped over and HUGGED the server. This is in a fine dining establishment, by the way. I couldn’t believe it. The server had done a great job. We all laughed. The server is now going to buy the book.
This is likely the strangest book review you have ever read. I wanted to outline that this Waiter Rant will change you. It will change the way you view restaurants, your behaviour in them, and how you view servers. Who are these people who work odd hours? You will find out. Steve Dublanica also includes two appendices in the back. One is on “How to Be a Good Customer” and the other is “How to Know if You are Working in a Bad Restaurant.” This book is beneficial for customers and servers. And yes, it is commended by Anthony Bourdain, the author of Kitchen Confidential.
Waiter Rant was Dublanica’s first book after writing a blog under the same name for many years as the anonymous “Waiter.” He has now written another called Keep the Change. My only criticism would be in the flow. Sometimes he threw in elaborate metaphors, landing like staccatos in a musical piece. They are original and likeable, yet they seemed out-of-place. It’s as if the writing jumps from genre to literary and back. Some readers could be also taken aback by the time he takes to talk about his personal goals, fears, and slumps. Not me though, I found the insights made him real and not just a ranter.
Read the book. Then wait a while before you eat out again.
Okay. Now, I am looking at my barista funny…Dublanica, what have you done?!