Devoid of Stars

It’s Saturday night and Café Machiavelli is packed. There are so many customers in the dining room that the mass of their collective bodies forms a swirling vortex of need and want, collapsing perspective and time into an emotional black hole. As I walk across the restaurant’s stone floor, I skirt the edge of the maelstrom’s event horizon, loop around the hostess stand, and park myself in a safe orbit behind the dessert station. It’s only when my legs come to a complete halt that I realize my heart is racing. Breaking out in a cold sweat, my vision tunnels and darkness starts to overtake me. I’m going down.

Instinctively I drop to one knee, grab the edge of a Formica counter for support, and point my head towards the floor. As I start driving air in and out of my lungs, the blackness makes a frenzied attempt to finish me off. Like a fighter pilot struggling though a nine gee turn, I clench the muscles in my thighs and buttocks, forcing blood from my lower extremities into my oxygen starved brain.  In the background, the restaurant clatters and roars as it gorges itself on money, decency, and sweat. For a moment I think of letting myself faint. At least I’d get to go home.

A hand falls on my shoulder. “Are you all right?” the person it’s attached to asks.

Instead of answering, I concentrate on my breathing. If I open my mouth I’ll throw up. The friendly hand on my shoulder provides a steady warm pressure, helping me throttle my heart back into a normal rhythm. After a minute the blackness slips away and I stand up straight. When I open my eyes I see Jimmy, Café Machiavelli’s youngest busboy, looking at me with concern.

“I’m okay,” I say, suddenly feeling very thirsty. “I just felt faint.”

“You were white as a sheet there for a minute,” Jimmy says.

“Too much running around,” I say, pouring myself a glass of water.

“You need any help?”

“I’ve got to make nine cappuccinos and plate eight desserts. Think you can give me a hand?”

“Sure,” Jimmy replies. “I’ll do the desserts.”

“Thanks, man.”

I finish my water and get to work. My table ordered four regular and five decaf cappuccinos. The only way I can avoid going into the weeds is to cut corners. I whip a plastic soda pitcher full of milk into foam, brew a pot of decaf espresso, line up nine glasses, and start assembling my coffees assembly line style. Everyone’s getting decaf tonight.

Suddenly Willem, the restaurant’s manager, makes an appearance.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he asks Jimmy.

“I’m helping him make desserts,” Jimmy replies.

“Get back on the floor,” Willem yelps. “Making desserts isn’t your job.”


“Back on the floor!” Willem barks.

“It’s okay Jimmy,” I interject gently. “I can handle it from here.”

After Jimmy exits the dessert station Willem sticks his face two inches from mine. His breath stinks and his chubby face is beaded with desperate perspiration.

“Why the fuck can’t you handle your tables?” he asks me.

“There’s only four servers on tonight,” I reply. “What did you expect?”

“Don’t give me that shit,” Willem says, shaking his head disgustedly. “You walk around here like super waiter but go in the weeds over a few desserts. I don’t know where you learned to wait tables, but you need to work faster.”

“Gimme a break” I groan. “We’re all busting our ass tonight.”

“Shut up and get your ass in gear.”

Anger detonates in my chest. I’m sick and tired of being treated like a fourth grader by a bunch of kindergartners.

“There’s a difference between fine dining and working in a diner Willem,” I retort hotly.  “And if you weren’t such a jerk to work for, then maybe everyone wouldn’t be quitting.”


“How many bus people have we lost this week?” I ask. “Three?”

“The bus people are not your concern.”

“It is when I can’t get my tables cleared.”

“I’m gonna talk to the owner about you,” Willem gloats. “He’s gonna fire you.”

“Get the fuck out of my face Willem,” I reply, my voice compact with menace, “Or I’ll run right over you.”

Surprised, Willem whitens with shock and slinks away. I finish assembling my cappuccinos, place them on a large tray, and deliver them to my table.

“I’ll be right back with your desserts,” I say, setting the last coffee on the table.

“Waiter,” the table’s host says icily, “Everything’s been slow tonight – the service, the kitchen, and now dessert. What’s going on here?”

“My apologies, sir. We’re short staffed.”

“And where’s Gwendolyn?” the man asks. “She always used to wait on us.”

“She no longer works here I’m afraid.”

The man shakes his head. “Everyone here is new,” he mutters. “No one knows what they’re doing.”

There’s nothing to say so I say nothing. I return to the dessert station to finish plating my desserts. When I get there Willem’s waiting with the owner.

“What’s going on?” the owner asks.

“Your manager doesn’t know how to handle people,” I reply evenly. “He’s rude, arrogant, and socially inept. If I hear another word out of his mouth I’ll quit right now.”

“I don’t want you to do that,” the owner says.

“Then tell him to get off my back.”


Willem’s face registers betrayal, shocked that the owner threw him under the bus. Since we’re down so many staff, I knew the owner’s reaction would break my way. That Willem couldn’t predict this outcome means that his days are numbered. He storms off, furious.

Undaunted, I finish delivering my desserts, grab another table’s coffee order, and head back to the espresso machine. As I garnish my demitasse cups with lemon rinds I look at the dining room. It’s a nightmare. The customers are angry that everything’s taking so long. No one is smiling, everyone looks miserable, and the restaurant’s atmosphere is light years from being hospitable. Café Machiavelli seems to be sucking the life out of everyone tonight, including me. Maybe that’s why I felt faint earlier.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see Willem struggling. He’s got a tray laden with drinks in one hand, a plate of food in another, and an impatient customer trying to get his attention by tugging on his apron. I consider going to help him but decide against it. I want to watch Willem get sucked into the center of the restaurant’s black hole and be annihilated.  I shake my head. I’m at a point in my life where I can no longer deal with people who suck the life out of me. I’m know I’m being self protective, but sometimes defending yourself involves being ruthless and cruel. I don’t like that part of myself.

Without lifting a finger to help him, I watch as Willem falls into the restaurant’s whirling center and gets crushed inside its ravenous core.

“Better him than me,” I say to myself, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

125 thoughts on “Devoid of Stars”

  1. Sarah says:

    People would fall in love with outer space science fiction if it were all written like that.

  2. admin says:

    The boldfaced letters in the last line are a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King.

  3. Tamsin says:

    yet another great post waiter, just a shame you have to work with a complete ass like willem. glad to have you back!

  4. Bacchus says:

    Assholes always die by the sword, especially managers if they don’t learn how to manage. You were best not to save him

  5. Thom says:

    Rock on, Waiter! It’s good to read of you standing your ground… and then some.

  6. PK says:

    Great job conveying mood and atmosphere. You’re in your sweet spot again. Oh, and you should see a doctor.

  7. Bob Dobbs says:

    Best thing you’ve ever written, in my opinion. And the darkest.

  8. Eccentric says:

    Sometimes ya just gotta let someone go into the weeds before they understand where’s you’re coming from.

    Awesome work Waiter–I hope it gets better for you at Cafe Machiavelli

  9. AshlandMom says:

    Working in restaurants sounds like pure hell.

    Why do you keep doing it? Is it necessary until your book is out? Isn’t there something else you can do to make a living that isn’t so stressful and that doesn’t require you to deal with asshats every working moment?

    Perhaps you should go into management — or is that worse?

  10. Susan in NWPA says:

    Waiter. You need a new job. I know things weren’t the greatest before but this seems so so much worse. Are you sure you don’t want to go back to The Bistro?

  11. JT says:

    Hmm, I had to re-read backwards through the archives a little bit to assemble my opinion about Willem and the owner. I hate to say it, but I don’t think Willem’s days are numbered.

    The owner’s gotten used to being perennially understaffed. He also likes letting Willem be the bad guy. Every tale that includes Willem is about his stress levels or “crankiness.” Every tale about the owner shows him backing the waiters up, usually after they’ve gone through Willem first. I think that Owner likes letting Willem be that Bad Cop to his Good Cop. He likes telling Willem, in private, that he’s going to have to do something about the overtime numbers or shave staff in the evenings. He lets Willem take the flak. It’s really common. Willem might even be a natural jerk outside the workplace. But the owner hired him.

  12. the Nurse says:

    I have to agree with Eccentric in that letting him go to the weeds is sometimes the only way for some people to appreciate what you do. And if you had helped him, 50-1 he would have bit the hand that was offered. As for the near fainting episode, did you skip lunch again? Knock it off I don’t need to see you in my ER

  13. maureen says:

    Poor Waiter! I really hope that the book does well enough that you can look for a better job. I know that being The Waiter is kinda your schtick, but for God’s sake don’t risk your health for it.
    Good luck with Wilhelm-maybe some good will come out of your having to deal with all his bullshit.

  14. girlwiththemask says:

    That’s the thing when shit starts going down, isn’t it? Everbody has to help each other otherwise a whole evening’s service can fold. THat guy Wilhelm is a twat for not realising it… he won’t last long. Hang in there though!

    girlwiththemask x

  15. gcbcman says:

    I agree with JT. Having a competent manager would only tend to expose the incompetence of the owner. If the owner was competent himself he would have been running things differently from the get-go. The bad manager is the buffer that keeps his ego intact.
    And as far as all of the dramatic black hole/crushing my existence verbiage, it seems a bit over the top. To quote one of our history’s greatest civil rights advocates in reference to a badly run restaurant seems incongruous at best.

  16. Agent Scully says:

    Waiter, I wonder, is working in an upscale restaurant any better? I haven’t eaten in any New York ones, but in Chicago I love dining at Ambria (now closed), Everest, Tru, Charlie Trotter’s… It seems like the wait staff is always happy and calm. I always get amazing service and the tips must be generous (at least mine are). Why not try one of these?

  17. Carter says:

    Wow, great writing Waiter. It has been a while since I have seen someone sculpt a story the well, even if it did happen. I do agree however, with JT in that managers who have no social skills like this Willem character do seem to stick around way to long. In the two restaurants I have worked at there was a GM change about a year after I started working there, both of them pure evil and devoid of any knowledge on how to run a restaurant without alienating the staff. (Kitchen and FOH)This being the case they both outlasted me at each place and I have since found out that one of them has been promoted to a regional manager. (yeah, I worked at a chain restaurant)So you see Waiter, I think that Willem is there for the long haul, unfortunately for you and the rest of the staff at Café Machiavelli. I do hope, however, that some better luck comes your way when your book is released, I know I am going to pick up a copy.

  18. Steve says:

    This is when the old saying, “you’re never in the weeds if you don’t care” comes into play. Many, many years ago an older learned waiter taught me that it’s only food and beverage, it all ends up in the same place the next day. Loved the post, brought back too many memories of my not too long ago serving days, when sometimes even a lawn mower couldn’t get you out of the weeds. And of course, managers are a dime a dozen, good servers are worth their weight in gold.

  19. johng says:

    Scully, you do have a point, but I during my former career in the Black Hole that the Waiter describes, I worked in some upscale joints where the stress level was absolutely unbelievable. Panic attacks like this can happen anywhere, and demented managers and sadistic chefs have more time to twist the knife when the pace is a little slower!

  20. tina says:

    HELP ME !! Please go here and straighten out the ignorant who are making silly inane comments on this blog concerning tipping:

    I can’t go on alone because I want to use all the crass words I know… i.e. f**k etc.

    Yours for a more informed dining public.. or “get the shit out of your brain and leave a decent tip on the table, you arse!”

  21. Tucatz says:

    I do hope that none of the exchange with Willelm or the owner was exaggerated. Sometimes managers need a good hard bitchslap to wake them up from their little power trips.

    Don’t feel bad about not helping him out. He deserved a chunk of time in the crossfire.

  22. Wendy says:

    intense post. love it!

    reminds me of your “eye of god” post.

    nothing like some desserts and cappuccinos to get you weeded. hang in there!

  23. Tink says:

    I worked in an establishment where the owner also acted as manager. He mostly hired inexperienced waiters and insisted the other waiters used them as busboys. I kept training them when he wasn’t looking because a restaurant doesn’t need an army of drones and two good waiters, it needs an army good waiters and 2 drones. I was proven right over and over. It works to everyone’s advantage if everybody can do each other’s job and help out where it’s needed. Willem sending Jimmy away is idiotic.

    Great writing as usual, Waiter. I’ve been there, and I too keep going back.

  24. Jeff says:

    Well, as a place to make stories, CM has it, but… ick. Ever want to be a manager?

    On a technical note, your RSS Feed doesn’t know the name of the site – it comes up blank.

  25. Lori says:

    Wow – Five Stars! Another great post. Can’t wait for your book (I’ve got it on order!). Your writing is so vivid I felt faint when you did, felt angry when you were, and feel happy to have you writing!

  26. six mokes says:

    Excellent post.

  27. lennysgurl says:

    hey you. great post.
    I fainted at work about 4 months ago…broke my tailbone when I fell. completely sucked.
    then it healed and I got sucked back into all the chaos again. so fun.

  28. Duckie says:

    Awesome post waiter! bravo! I’m glad you’re protecting yourself. Tomorrow it might seem like a bad idea, or even a week from now that you stood up to him, but in a month, or a year it wont matter.


  29. heather (errantdreams) says:

    I hope the next manager has some sense. 🙁

  30. Mary says:

    What happened to Jimmy the busboy? Will you mentor him?

  31. Josh says:

    Headr a joke about tipping today….

    Tipping is like wiping your backside. If you dont do it right it’s going to be messy when you return

  32. Sonrienta says:

    As you said Waiter, sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself and things work out. If the owner had any brains he’d make you Restaurant manager instead of that knucklehead.

  33. saucygrrl says:

    Sometimes people are beyond the help you can give them anyway. Humility hurts, but it’s a lesson that one has to learn the hard way.

  34. cass says:

    that was amazing i was sucked into the vortex with you
    you loves ya baby

  35. cass says:

    i meant to say who loves ya baby
    long day

  36. Natalie says:

    What a giant freaking douchebag.

    Good on you, for not letting that prick suck you in, Waiter!

    Only 4 more months till the book! Keep it movin’!

  37. The Restaurant Blogger says:

    Waiter, this was a great post. I can’t believe how much crap you have to put up with. I hope Willem had a different opinion about you. However, I doubt it he will ever change. If you don’t have an owner that can make the right decisions when needed, how can a restaurant run successfully? If Willem was a manager for my restaurant and I knew he treated my front staff like that, there would be no questions about, he would be fired. It was a good thing you never helped him out. He has to learn a lesson.

  38. Josh says:

    Hey Waiter,

    Not sure if you did it deliberately, but… this piece was eerily timed. John Wheeler, the physicist who coined the term “Black Hole” passed away on Sunday.

    Whether it was meant as tribute, or just read so in its timeliness, much appreciated for this piece, and all the others over the years. Looking forward to the book.

  39. t says:

    good for you

    It’s good that you feel a little bad letting him deal with that himself. Some people really have it coming, others have it coming but don’t really need another bad day.

  40. Trinity says:

    Way to stand up for yourself, Waiter! You may work in customer service, but you don’t need to be treated like that by management.

    On really busy Saturday nights (especially in the summer) I’ve found that the nights go by smoother if I keep myself hydrated. When you’re running around like that and not drinking enough, you’re bound to pass out. I don’t know how your restaurant is set up, but you might want to consider investing in a water bottle you can bring in and keep some where so this doesn’t happen again.

    I told all of my waiter co-workers about your site. We love you and can’t wait for your book!


  41. Anonymous says:

    I once felt the same about a restaurant I worked at, but the difference is where I worked the numbers were alright, but yes, people kept dropping, and customers and reviews went down, and so did the reign of terror known as the Restaurant Manager

  42. jamesgreater says:

    Willem has many twins in many restaurants around this great land. Fuck him. Awesome post and grats again on the book/Bourdain quote.

  43. mongoose says:

    Hmmm. Sad, sad. The truth looks to me to be that the likes of you don’t need to be managed at all. Willem is an irrelevance to you. The owner knows that you are a pro and will pull your weight. OTOH some the other staff are new and inexperienced – and cheap. Willem can abuse them all he wants because there are plenty more poor folk queuing to get work. It looks like a cyncial cost-minimisation game to me. The owner is complicit. If he wanted the place run properly he would appoint you in place of Willem.

    Find a new job. ASAP! It is not worth the grief.

  44. tina says:

    hay, thanks for the help. but now the blogger, my (mabye former) best friend is angry.. so stop the comments.. or i shall be friendless…

  45. Chef Jeff says:

    Sorry folks but Willem will never learn even after being dragged into the restaurant’s whirling center and getting crushed inside its ravenous core. His type will always blame someone else for their problems and never own up to their own mistakes. At some point he will implode and leave fed up with all of the other people who caused his problems. The question will be will he blame the correct people? Himself and the owner. Once Willem has left the owner will then reload with some other aspiring waiter who thinks they can run the show for this owner only to be backstabbed again by the same owner. Please Waiter, I think you are smart enough not to be the next victim in this cycle and be placed in the hot seat by this owner.

  46. savannah says:

    this had to be one of your most intense posts ever! i felt the tension just reading it! well done, sir!

  47. mykl says:

    You seem highly accident prone. I’m afraid of the day that you tell us you died on the way to work or at work. But I’m very glad to see that your cutting words don’t cease, even when you’ve almost fainted. Can’t wait for more, Waiter!

  48. Sue says:

    I admire you standing up for yourself, in more ways than one.

  49. admin says:

    Accident prone? No. Clumsy? Oh yes……

  50. sugar says:

    I know well what it is like to work in a restaurant you adore and to then work in a restaurant run by moronic managers. I’m sorry to hear you’re forced to put up with Willem as well as a poor owner. Serving can be so rewarding when you’re in the right place… As far as the fainting feeling goes, I’ve found myself that deep in the weeds on many different occasions, and at no time have I actually felt like vomiting or fainting. Crying perhaps, but never fainting. Ha. I would look more seriously into that. Take care of yourself, Waiter. We like having you around. =)

  51. Laura says:

    “my voice compact with menace” … delicious! I could feel every little fiber of your body wound tight, controlled by sheer will-power. Well-written, Waiter!

  52. Ashley says:

    You sure it wasn’t something more than ‘faintness’ going on? Maybe you should see a doctor =/

    Anyway, great post and hope things start going better. *hugs*

  53. Karen says:

    Aw Waiter, I hope you’re feeling better and not-so-faint.

    Is it bad that I snickered through the last paragraph? I almost felt bad for Williem, but. . . then again, not really.

  54. Zayrina says:

    I am a nurse and learned that management makes huge profits when they work us short. The fines they may receive from the State Board of Health is not even a flea on a dog’s patoot in comparison to the profits they pull in by running short.

    I have to wonder if that is the same case in restaurant management as well. As long as their pockets are well lined with cash, f*ck the workers and the customers. We need unions.

  55. Chris S says:

    Wow….This is kinda how my life has been going for the past couple days….just can’t wait for a couple weeks when it slows back down. I’ve been reading your stuff for quite a while (being a catering waiter I kinda…kinda know how it is, and you have great stories. Keep it up, and hope the night ended up ok.

  56. PandoraWilde says:

    The results might have been interesting if you HAD helped Willem.

    Picture it–he has to actually THANK you after having his ass handed to him by his boss in front of you?

    Nah, then again, he may have had a stroke on the spot–never good in any public place. You did the right thing.

  57. Wilhelm says:

    Passing out is not normal. Did you forget to eat and get hypoglycemic, or do you have Diabetes?

  58. Delphine says:

    Take better care of yourself waiter. This job is not worth your health.

  59. Velvet says:

    Waiter, You are the best.
    Can’t wait for your book to come out!
    Love you.

  60. Vic says:

    Karma – it’s a bitch Willem 🙂

  61. Felis Sidus says:

    Waiter, when you describe yourself having a racing heart, breaking into a cold sweat as consciousness recedes, and feeling nauseated, then follow that shortly with “anger detonates in my chest”, I start having uncomfortable thoughts relating to matters cardiac. I’m with PK and The Nurse: If you’re skipping meals, please cut it out. If you haven’t discussed experiences like this with a doctor recently, please do so, soon. We really don’t need a post from you titled “My Night In The ER”.

  62. Alec says:

    I’m a ride operator in a theme park, and pretty much everything you write about has happened to me at some point, especially the vindictive and incompetent management. I feel your pain, although apparently not as acutely as you do, because I don’t spontaneously faint at work. See a doctor buddy, and hang in there.

  63. Fe says:

    Amazing post, Waiter, it gave me chills.

  64. Moshizzle says:

    That’s called karma. I just hope that your fainting spell isn’t a symptom of a serious health problem. Your writing sucked me through right to the very end of this post. Can’t wait for the book to come to Canadia!

  65. Jenkins says:

    Poetic and postmodern.

  66. Bex says:

    The managers at my restaurant are the same. I love it when they lose control of the floor and especially when they get yelled at by the guests.

  67. the pensive penguin says:

    Been there. It’s not a happy place. Good for you to stand up for yourself. My solitary career goal at the moment is to never become that kind of manager.

  68. srvrmgr says:

    Willem is an ignorant dick and not all of us (restaurant mgrs) are like that. If I would have seen that you were in such dire straits, I would have told you to take five, made the caps, delivered them myself and thanked Jimmy for being such a great team player. I suspect Willem has never been a server, I have. If I ever owned a restaurant, my first requirement for the manager’s position is that they had spent some amount of time as a server. You can’t manage a good staff of servers if you’ve never been one yourself! Great post waiter. Hope you got to recoup from that “Perfect Storm” with some time off!

  69. srvrmgr says:

    I take that back. I suspect that, yes, Willem was a server at some point. However, he was the weakest link on the crew. He probably got to a management position by throwing his co-workers under the bus and sucking up to weak ownership in whatever venue he came from. Considering the way he treated Jimmy, I also suspect that he was the kind of server that short-tipped the busser staff. What a jerk! Waiter, it’s really sad that you work in a venue that doesn’t recognize integrity and professionalism. To be a great server is to be a true professional and you are truly that! You are the kind of professional that managers like me feel blessed to have on staff! Can’t wait for your book to come out. I will buy a copy for my servers.

  70. Snark Scribe says:

    “my voice compact with menace”

    I’ll have to try that.

  71. erazo says:

    and you shouldn’t, Waiter, people like that talk a lot of garbage until they themselves are in the same situation. it’s all about team work and not bossing people around – when you’re in the weeds, you’re in the weeds, it’s about helping each other out and doing it the most efficient way possible. and if he wants to act superior and not help out, then why should you extend a helping hand? let him bury himself and then have to explain it to the management. that’s the only way he’s going to learn to be more humble and maybe not sacrifice restaurant experience for the sake of his ego. good call! and sorry you had a rough night.

  72. erazo says:

    srvrmgr, good call! he should have got his hands dirty. and he probably told Jimmy to get back on the floor because he knew that he was sinking and he needed someone to weed him out at Waiter’s expense. you’re right, people like that shouldn’t be managers because you can brown-nose all you want, but when it’s time to roll up your sleeves and work, if you don’t have the professionalism, you crumble like a piece of flaky crust. and when you’re a dick, you don’t have the team behind you to give a helping hand.

  73. chiew says:

    you needn’t have helped him. in his own words, “Why the fuck can’t he handle his tables?”

  74. james says:

    Great post as always!Hope I don’t get nightmares from all the bad waiter memories it stirred up.What the heck is the point of decaff-expresso? I’m in Europe amd the waitpeople here don’t have to contend with such nonsense.I can hear the question,”Are you sure this is decaf?”

  75. Jess says:

    Wow! Reading this really reminds me why I’m so glad that I’m no longer waiting tables. A good manager would’ve jumped in and helped you keep things moving instead of making the situation worse by holding you up and trying to belittle you. I hope he gets the boot soon. I also hope you are feeling better. Whether it was a panic attack or something else, keep an eye on it and take care of yourself okay?

  76. weare138 says:

    “Swirling vortex of need and want” is so accurate. Some nights everyone just sits the fuck down and enjoys themselves, and some nights everyone just can’t be content, like they feel obligated to ask you for something just because you’re passing by. And, speaking from personal experience, horrible, unsympathetic and unstable managers exacerbate everything by a factor of at least 10. Billion.

  77. hannahwilde says:

    Well Waiter the power of the internet means that tonight a chick in Australia who has never met you is worried about your health – get a check up – at best this sort of thing can lead to panic attacks and you do not want to go there!

  78. S. Woody White says:

    Why is it so few people in the restaurant biz have read Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table? It’s in paperback now, although Willem would be better served by the hardback – delivered swiftly to the back of his head. Or maybe the forehead. Either option would work.

  79. 410busboy says:

    I admire your work and work ethic. I entered the restaurant business when I moved to San Antonio, had to search a bit, but I finally found the perfect place for me. Now, my tips are nowhere as good as yours, but our prices aren’t as high either! lol

  80. Michelle S. says:

    Well, what goes around comes around…I finally had it with someone and decided not to help them out when they needed it. It was oddly satisfying. Of course, they didn’t get it.

    Great post. I love it when you swear at people who deserve it.

  81. PaSkyhawk says:

    So, are you taking the manager job, after they fire Willem and offer it to you? I know your first reaction would be no but if you work out a good deal you could be part of turning the place around. There could be some new satisfaction in your job that you haven’t had in a wile.

  82. Jay says:

    Man, I feel for you. I was in the food industry for awhile, years back. Thankfully as a cook, not a waiter. Head cooks are no better than floor managers, I can tell you. That’s a large part of the reason I’m out of that business.

  83. Robin G. says:

    Sometimes you just have to look out for yourself, so that people can get the smack of reality they so richly deserve. Maybe Willem will learn from this experience and grow into a good manager… at another restaurant.

  84. Dulcy says:

    Don’t work hungry. You might be a little hypoglycemic. Your sugar could take a sudden dip, and you could wake up with a crowd around you. Keep some Lifesavers in your apron when you work and pop one under your tongue if you start feeling weak. Of course, that’s no substitute for eating. Grazing on nuts and beef jerky or something like that will go a long way to keeping that little episode from happening again.

    Of course, if it keeps happening, you need to go on to the doc’s and get checked out.

    Stay well. 🙂 I don’t mean to be your mom…but, well, I been there. And I AM a mom. 😉

  85. Irina says:

    Thats how we get rid of managers we don’t like, we throw them to the wolves.

  86. Rose says:

    xoxoxo… does this help? =)

  87. See Double You says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Another brilliant piece that puts we your faithful into the action right there with you. As a former F&B’r(but only a lowly barback/busboy), I can relate, and sympathize with hell-night.

    Can’t wait for another!

  88. Garrett says:

    You have a pepper grinder; either faux-mace the bitch or bludgeon him over the head with it.

  89. bee maione says:

    Get yourself to the Doctor, probably hypoglycemic (and yes, I am a Mother as well)but your eating habits are poor and you aren’t 18 anymore. Sorry. Great post by the way, one of your best. Can’t wait for the book to come out, buying it as a gift for my son who is familiar with the business. Take care of yourself.

  90. Lane says:

    At the little greasy spoon I once worked at, the owner/cook was a crazy old bitch who always seemed to find time amidst the rush to nitpick something the waitstaff was doing. Of course it would always waste precious time to be trying to explain yourself during a rush. On the rare occasions she had to leave early and would let someone else take over the grill, we all marvelled at how everyone was just allowed to do their job well and as a result the job was easier and the service better.
    Beautiful post, waiter. The truth isn’t always pretty.

  91. Sofedup says:

    I Share your pain. All too often managers are hired who don’t know the time of day. The thought of tripping him came to mind. A tray in each hand, doable but not real intelligent.
    However we already knew that. It’s clear,when he sent the busboy back on the floor, he wasn’t concerned with the customers. Calling you Super waiter, probably a lil jealous of you.
    Where’s the Dessert Queen? Perhaps that’s what you mgr.should have been doing. That’s his job , to ensure even flow of operations, when you’re busy you call them to do the things for you to make the service more efficient esp if you’re section is full and you’re flying around like you were, and sick to boot. Surely he’s not always within reach or signaling. Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with your rants so I don’t know the whole story about this guy but this piece is enough to give insight to experienced people. I also agree the owner is as much to blame. If he was there , why wasn’t he helping out? It’s his restaurant and his name. This business can be fast and furious and is almost always anything but fair.

  92. Austin Armadillo says:

    Wow, what visual imagery! I loved it, and not just because I work in astronomy.

    Take care of yourself, Waiter. That was a worrisome episode you had.

  93. Lizzie says:

    are you sure you aren’t just pregnant?

  94. Charlotte says:

    Way to go waiter! I wish I had the guts to speak up for myself more often.
    Willem definitely reaped what he sowed…

  95. alison says:

    this was beautifully written. You did a great job describing how a restaurant feels when situations like that arise…you’re a very talented writer. keep going!

  96. Bariatric Brat says:

    “…Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

  97. Bariatric Brat says:

    On another note…I just left my bariatric sales job because the stress of the place brought on not one but two TIA’s (mini-strokes) this year. And I’m only thirty-ten years old!! Sounds like Willem’s on his way out and you’ll be able to breathe again. You may want to keep some glucose tabs in your apron. Or eat.

    Take care, hon.

  98. Rusty says:

    You pussy! You shoulda punched him.

  99. Rusty says:

    I’m kidding of course.

  100. Goldenfoxx says:

    Please explain to me why when someone orders 9 cappacinos at starbucks and it takes ten minutes of standing around…thats ok, but when they order 9 capps at a restaurant they expect it in 3 minutes. Dont they realize that starbucks has thier entire staff geared towards cranking out drinks, and at a restaurant its only one lone server….sigh.

  101. JMB says:

    Good for you to stand up for yourself. What a douche.

    I love people in charge who support their employees. Kudos to the owner for not siding with the manager simply because he outranks you.

  102. Dorothy says:
  103. melanie says:

    omg… nights like that. I don’t understand underling managers or any manager that is destructive to the people that work under them. IGNORANCE! instead of saying, can I find someone to help you, he shames you?

    there is going to be a special place of torture for those that try to destroy the spirit of the people that are REPRESENTING him. freaks.

    good luck with booting out the willem disease from your immediate space.

  104. Dr. Electro says:

    It would be nice to learn that Willem disappeared from your space forever only to turn up behind the counter at a truck stop. It’s what he deserves.

  105. CJ says:

    Good job. Sometimes you have to be selfish to survive. I would love to move out to the east coast, just to visit your cafe sometime. And despite being one of those poor, starving college kids, I ALWAYS tip at LEAST 16%, even on the slowest waiters. I’m sure anyone here would tip you properly. and I’m also sure anyone here would be polite to you. you are well loved!

  106. Ajeya says:

    Not helping Willem out? Hmm… that’s a tough call. Not sure what I’d do if I were in your place.

  107. Angie says:

    Hey waiter,

    With your experienc and your book finally over, I don’t know why you have to put up with
    incompetent managers. You could take Willem’s job easy!!!

  108. breezyknees says:

    A friend is part owner of a restaurant here in the Orlando area. There are so many restaurants here that there’s a chronic shortage of wait staff. He tells me that it’s a constant fear that anybody can quit any time and go across the street and get another job the next day. I wonder how many Willems there are in this area where wait staff has to be treated decently so they don’t walk off.

  109. Destra says:

    Wow, you’re a jerk.

  110. Austin Armadillo says:

    Destra – Your trolling attempt has failed. Go back under your bridge, ya pipsqueak.

  111. Say What? says:

    I worked in the back of the house and on a busy night I had 10 dinners going on the saute station and I felt the exact same thing you described – right down to falling to one knee. I yelled for my fry guy to save the dinners then hit the floor while the room service staff, wait staff and anyone else was there was yelling for the sous chef. You lucked out. I ended up in the hospital having CT scans, heart monitors and tilt table tests.

    To this day, about 20 years later, still not sure exactly what happened and every once in awhile I can get that feeling.

  112. BethanytheMartian says:

    I’m agreeing with everyone else, you probably need to get your blood sugar and everything checked. Getting faint and sick like that isn’t good and it could be something as small as the onset of a minor illness, or it could be something to do with diabetes. We’re all concerned, and although it may have just been a moment, you don’t pay for your insurance to NOT go to the doctor when something like this comes up. Plus, since you write in public- if your doctor and insurance company figure out this is your blog, the insurance company can later claim this is a ‘pre-existing condition’ because it is/may be a symptom for something else.

    Go to a doctor, tell him what happened, run some blood tests.

    Also, LOL at Cafe Machiavelli. That cracks me up.

    We all <3 you, so take care of yourself.

  113. Destra says:

    I was remarking that blowing off someone who just put so much effort into helping you was a jerk thing to do. Most people with an ounce of respect for other human beings would help the poor guy out. To do otherwise suggests that the waiter needs to take a look at his life and how he treats others. This was all summed up in the very simple message of, “Wow, you’re a jerk.”

    Trolling would be if I called the waiter a jerk for no reason.

  114. Frowst says:

    No, you’re not trolling, you just have your characters mixed up. Willem was the idiot manager. Jimmy was the helpful busboy. Make sure you have simple things like this worked out before you go calling people names, otherwise you’ll look foolish.

    Waiter, have you been to the doctor yet?

  115. slag says:

    you are a piece of shit. your stories suck and yer gay. your restaurant sucks nut

  116. Kat says:

    There is nothing more infuriating than a manager who 1. refuses to help when you’re in the weeds and 2. insults you for being in the weeds. Waiting tables is a strange business, it is so based on timing and the disposition of customers and the efficiency of the kitchen and so on and so on. At my restaurant, during the day we have no support staff (bussers/hosts/salad people/bartenders/etc) so we do everything ourselves. If you get a table who wants a bunch of salads/drinks you’re fucked. It has nothing to do with your talent. I have a manager who always refuses to help, and it’s like, if you want to help this restaurant, help ME. RIGHT NOW. Anyway, sorry for this long comment, it was a long night and I was very glad to read an update. This and the next entry you posted were phenomenal. I can’t wait for your book!

  117. Kat says:

    PS, that I’m posting again is probably a sign that I’m a little drunk, but I had to tell a story.

    The other morning I was waiting tables with 2 other girls. One, Leanne, is basically the GM, without that title. She runs the restaurant and it could not survive withour her, she is basically fabulous, but sometimes lets her emotions get the best of her. The other, Stephanie, is the new manager. I also day manage, so it was ridiculous that the three of us were waiting tables on a Tuesday morning. So opening time comes, and both girls have disappeared. I have to seat and take every table that comes in for the next half hour, 11 total. Leanne comes back and while I’m rushing to prep a hot tea (HATE) asks me sarcastically, “Are you in the weeds, Kat?” What the fuck. I have 4 tables in your section cause you felt like dicking around instead of working. She didn’t even offer to help, just chatted with the kitchen manager.

    So I know what it’s like to be thwarted by someone for some stupid reason. But anyway, again, I love your work, and you make me feel okay about waiting tables for a living.

  118. Kat says:

    and I am always so grateful for bussers/other support staff who do my desserts or anything I ask them at any time. Whenever this girl Mackenzie works expo-ing, she hooks me up with the salads, so I throw her an extra 10 bucks. Jimmy sounds great, having someone in the restaurant who will help you is always key. I’m stopping now, I swear!

  119. GR says:

    Great post! Will needed to experience it first hand…

  120. Lola says:

    Dear Waiter,
    Please go see your doctor to evaluate your faiting episode. While your symptoms of “tunnel-vision” and conscious awareness of passing out may suggest a benign cause (known as vasovagal or neurogenic syncope, which is a common, benign phenomenon), you were also having heart palpitations and nausea. Those are typical signs of a problem with your blood supply to the heart; in this particular case, it is most likely angina, which is a less serious type of a heart attack. Given your medical history of high cholesterol, angina is the most likely diagnosis. You must see your doctor to get at least an EKG and echocardiogram to make sure that everything is fine with your heart. Your doctor may also do some blood work to check for any markers of heart attack.
    med student

  121. Nicefiction says:

    Dear Waiter,

    I doubt you know how espresso is made (hint: its definitely NOT by the pot) much less cappucino. I appreciate fiction as much as anyone, but don’t pass this drivel on as fiction about fine dining.

  122. Liz says:

    lemme guess, Nicefiction. If you ever worked in a restaurant (which I doubt) you never had a table order more than three espresso drinks when you were in the weeds. Sometimes you gotta choose between cutting corners and getting buried.

  123. Groovecat says:

    that is why i don’t wait tables anymore after 20+ years in the biz. it ate my soul, now all that’s left is a black miasma of hate and bitterness.

    fuck the public. fuck working in customer service. i work for myself now, and and if i don’t like a client i drop them.

  124. HospitalityInstructor says:

    Holy shit. I found you book at my local bookshop and as soon as I finished it began reading you blog from beginning to end. So far, this is your finest piece of writing. Congrats!

  125. Daniel X says:

    This definetely had to be your best, but darkest piece of writing. I kinda loved the sci-fi tone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *