Saving Grace

It’s 9:30 PM on Wednesday night and Café Machiavelli’s been empty for almost an hour. Thinking we might close early, the owner sits down behind the hostess stand and starts tabulating the night’s receipts.  Eager to go home, the food runner starts cleaning the menus with Windex and the busboy starts mopping the tile floors. Within minutes the remnant aromas of cooked food are pushed aside by the acrid stench of cleaning solvents. Willem and I have already finished our sidework and are drinking post shift cocktails. It was a slow shift and I’ll be lucky if walk out of here with $40. Getting home before midnight would be the evening’s only saving grace.

Then the door annunciator chimes.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Willem grumbles.

A young couple walks into the restaurant. Oblivious to the fact that the restaurant is empty and the waiters are semi-inebriated, the man goes up to the owner, flashes a veneered smile, and says, “Table for two, please.”

“Don’t seat them,” Willem growls under his breath. “Don’t you dare fucking seat them.”

The owner looks at the prospective diners, smiles back, and says. “Of course, sir. Please follow me.”

I glance over at Willem. With both eyes popping out of his head and the vein in his right temple pounding furiously, he looks like he’s trying to set the owner on fire with the power of his mind.

“Goddammit,” I whisper. “Just when we’re almost outta here.”

“You wait on them,” Willem snorts.

“Gee, thanks,”

“And get them out of here fast,” Willem says. “No appetizers.”

“C’mon Willem.”

“I am serious,” Willem says, looking at me hotly. “No appetizers.”

“You can’t not give them apps,” I reply, aghast.

“You want to be here all night?”

“It’s the job Willem.”

“Fuck that,” Willem snaps. “Do what I tell you.”

I look at Willem coldly. “Try rephrasing that Willem.”


“Talk to me nicely or don’t talk to me at all.”

“Listen,” Willem sputters, “I’m sick of your shit. You think you’re better than everyone else around here.”

“Whatever Willem,” I say, not breaking eye contact. “But ask me to take the table – nicely.”

Willem tries scaring me with his telekinetic fire starting powers but when he realizes I’m not even breaking a sweat, he capitulates.

“Would you please take care of that table?” he says, his voice dripping with forced politeness.

“But of course,” I reply.

My exchange with Willem may seem petty but it’s not. If you let people get away with treating you poorly, eventually everyone will do it – even nice people. Like water always seeking its own level, its human nature to treat people with the lowest amount of consideration possible before encountering resistance. I usually come across as a laid back, friendly sort of guy, so people sometimes think they can intimidate me. I used to turn the other cheek when that happened but, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the truth of what Raymond Chandler meant when he described the character of his iconic detective, Phillip Marlowe. “He will take no man’s money dishonestly,” Chandler wrote, “And no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge.” Eventually word gets around that you’re not a pushover and fewer people try testing you.  Besides, if you let people push you around in the restaurant business, you’re dead meat.

I pop a mint in my mouth and walk over to my new table. I’m friendly, polite, and tell the couple that the kitchen’s closing in half an hour. Suddenly realizing they’re the only customers in the restaurant, they skip appetizers and order two simple bowls of pasta. It’s axiomatic that the last meal ordered in a restaurant is always cooked the fastest so, within ten minutes, the couple’s enjoying their dinner.

“Give them their check,” Willem says.

“But they just got their food,” I reply.

“You gonna give me a hard time over this too?”

“They know they’re keeping us. It’d be impolite to drop the check.”

“Why don’t you do what I say?” Willem almost shouts, still trying to scare me.

“Because what you say is usually wrong,” I reply evenly.

Willem stares at me open mouthed and then walks away. He could fire me, but he knows I couldn’t care less. When the couple finishes their dinner they forgo dessert and pay the bill. They leave a nice tip.

“I’ll give you the cash out tomorrow,” Willem says, not looking at me. “I’m too tired to do it tonight.”

“So I work all night and don’t get paid?” I reply, thinking of the gas I need to put in my car.

“Those are the breaks,” Willem says, smirking. I guess that revenge thing works both ways.

The night ends.  As I’m heading home Willem’s angry words “You think you’re better than everyone else around here!” echo inside my vodkafied head. That makes me feel bad. I know I’m not better than anyone who works at Café Machiavelli. With the exception of Willem, everyone at the restaurant likes me. But Willem’s sensing something all right. He’s picking up on the “I can walk away from this job at a moment’s notice” vibe I’m giving off.  Don’t get me wrong. I need a job and money like everyone else – but I don’t need to work in restaurants anymore. The restaurant industry has been very good to me, but I’ve been mentally leaving it for months now. Oddly enough, I understand where Willem’s coming from. I once hated waiting tables so much that I felt resentful towards any server that told me they were leaving the business forever.  I’ve been where Willem is. I’ve thought the same thoughts and felt the same anger.  All waiters end up at this crossroads. One or two servers might rededicate themselves to the restaurant profession, but the vast majority of waiters leave. Due to my “unusual circumstances” I’ve probably stayed long past my welcome.

If I wait tables much longer I’ll stop being a good waiter and become a soulless automaton rattling off specials and running credit cards. When that happens, I’ll won’t be earning my tips – I’ll just be expecting them. “He will take no man’s money dishonestly,” I say, feeling Chandler’s words circle back on me. The restaurant industry got nine good years of my life and, when you read my book, you’ll see how the industry helped save my soul.  The restaurant business deserves my respect, Soon it will be time for me to go.

Realizing that fact was the evening’s saving grace.

154 thoughts on “Saving Grace”

  1. John says:

    Nice to see another post 🙂 Don’t get too down over one manager, Waiter.

  2. dan says:

    Great post! I always felt that people sense your own level of self respect or lack of and treat you accordingly.

  3. Tom says:

    Great to see a new post 🙂
    I hate that feeling, where somebody says something to you and you think nothing of it at the time, but later on it repeats itself over in your head… drives me crazy.
    Don’t let it get to you, one thing I feel I’ve learnt about you from reading your blogs, is that you have an uncanny ability to usually do the right thing in every situation…
    Oh… And cant wait for the book 🙂

  4. Curt says:

    Ahhhhhh, the end is near! I have no doubt you are ready for the next chapter and I am happy for you. I just hope you feel like sharing the details with the rest of us!

  5. Jen says:

    I liked this post a lot. Thank you. =)

  6. dano says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for writing something so perfect that I needed to hear right now. I, too have been dealing witha boss who treats everyone as though we were dirt beneath his shoes and tomorrow is a critical day.

    Your words have told me EXACTLY what i need to do!

    thank you!

  7. saucygrrl says:

    There’s something wonderful about having a job, but knowing you don’t need *that* job. I think that’s exactly how I felt when I transitioned from full time to freelance.

    And I think you did a really great job setting us up to know that you aren’t going to be Waiter forever. 😉

  8. Phil McKrackon says:

    I have followed your ramblings since day one, a permanent change of venue has been a long time coming for you.

  9. Becs says:

    Figured. Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. But make the next job just as entertaining for your adoring public.

  10. Notmy Realname says:

    A new post–what a delightful surprise! Love the quote about insolence–you go, Waiter.

  11. Andi says:

    Very nice…good way of letting us know we’ll have to find new reading material pretty soon.

  12. Kezza says:

    That’s a great story Waiter. I used to work under a shift manger just like Willem once upon a time. I hated her with a passion, then one day I realised it wasn’t all her fault. Her contempt for employees was simply the sympom of her industry burn out.

  13. TaoTeChuck says:

    I love your stories, and I’m a sucker for a Chandler quote. (Pointers named Pearl are always a nice touch, too!)

  14. Amanda says:

    SOmetimes, Waiter, that time does come. It doesn’t jsut apply to the restauraunt buisness, either. I’ve been at my current job going on 5 years now…and I can honestly say that retail is the very same way. I have this experience with my bosses all the time…they’re lazy, and they constantly are looking for someone to push their work (and responsibility) off on all the time. And the chain of slackers (because it’s definitively not “command”) gets worse the higher up you go. You’ve been an inspiration to me to finish my own novel, and this post has sort of “lit the fire under” me, so to speak. Thank you for that.

    Another wonderful and insightful post, as always. It’s the highlight of my day as of late to log in and see you’ve put up something new. I appreciate everything you do.

  15. Amanda says:

    My apologies for the typos in my previous comment. It’s been a long

  16. Chanel says:

    Well Waiter, as sad as I will be to miss out on your hilarious, frustrating, and sometimes poignant stories when you go, I will cheer on the end of serving for anyone. I hope you find something you love!

  17. Rachel says:

    It was a good story Waiter…I’m just disappointed to feel as though this website is no longer of much interest to you. I can understand the frustration and wanting to get out of it, believe me, I’ve been stuck in the same job for going on 8 years, and I feel as though it’s pretty effectively sucked out my soul. But…without this website you would not have this book about to be released. It almost seems as though you’re maintaining this site to make sure people stay interested enough to buy your book and then you’re going to drop it. It is a very disappointing thing to see I have to say. Hopefully your writing will continue on just past the dollar signs you feel are heading your way.

  18. Michele says:

    great post…looking forward to hearing where you land.

  19. Bob Dobbs says:

    It’s good to know when to go, and to be able to do so. Good luck on a smooth transition to… whatever. A writing career or something similar.

    But there is one thing I would contend with in your piece: there are nature’s gentlemen and gentlewomen who do not, consciously or unconsciously, push on the people around them to find their limits. They set their own limits. I can’t count myself among their number, but I aspire to it, and I admire the people I know who are like that.

  20. Lee says:

    I retired after 35 years of working in the broadcast industry. I must have had 25 jobs through those years. After about the 8th or 10th job, I too became unwilling to put up with much….
    Don’t worry waiter. Once the book is on the NY best sellers list you can buy Café Machiavelli’s and fire Willem. Just please write about it here so I can cheer.

  21. alter_ego says:

    I am SO ready for your book!

    And I don’t blame you for making Willem ask you nicely after all the things you’ve shared with us about him.

  22. Jimmy says:

    Nice one, as always, Waiter. I fear for this blog after you stop waitering….I think you’ll have to keep a fictional job going for us so we can read more of your stories.

  23. roxx says:

    in any field, the same rings true . . . I just recently left my job working for a self-important, rude and inconsiderate employer . . .

    sometimes, you just have to do what’s right for you . . .

    wherever you land, keep writing . . . you ARE extraordinary!!!

  24. McAzkrak says:

    I am getting your book.

    In a way, this is my way of supporting someone to go on his new endeavor, because you have given me much.

  25. charlie's Angel says:

    Rachel hits it right no. Now that you are getting PAID….no free write$, right?

    ha-ha, just kidding. great story, just keep ’em coming- there’s nothing worth watching on tV!!!@@#$!!!!
    bye waiter.

  26. Bud Munchlip says:

    I dont get it – what is the connection between Willelm and this couple? Did he send them in to test Waiter? Is it possible that Willelm is trying to get Waiter to start a fight with the couple, and then wait until Waiter is down to go for the final blow?

  27. Waiter says:

    I’m not going to drop the site Rachel, it’ll just become something else.

  28. larry says:

    I know that this is probably stupid to say, but I waited tables and then trained wait staff for a large Canadian steak house chain opening in the states, and the hours were horrid, the money was okay, blah, blah, but I now I have a very good job in aviation, where I make more money, but boy, do I sure miss all the fun and camraderie, and drinking, and staying up till weird hours, and all the other crazy stuff that goes along with serving, I was the most fun I ever had…

  29. Paul the First says:

    “Ask me nicely”: shades of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. I like. You should have followed up with “I eat dinner 200 yards away from 400000 diners trained to kill me.”

  30. Bariatric Brat says:

    Maybe it’s time to be a manager that revitalizes the industry?

  31. Natasha says:

    “If I wait tables much longer I’ll stop being a good waiter and become a soulless automaton rattling off specials and running credit cards. When that happens, I’ll won’t be earning my tips – I’ll just be expecting them.”

    This will never happen to you. You would be good at anything you do. You have pride in what you do and it wouldn’t matter if you were the President of the country or if you were sweeping the floors at McDonald’s – you would do the job to the best of your ability and be proud of your work.

  32. Beth says:

    Amazing. I wish I could stand my ground against people like Willem. I’m the “turn the other cheek” type and sometimes I hate myself for it, lol.

    Can’t wait for the book! It’s on my Amazon wish list!

  33. Jack D says:

    Coming home from slinging lattes all day to see a new post on this site is my ‘saving grace’.

  34. Teresa says:

    On your very last Waiter Rant post will you post your picture? and sign your name?

  35. Michelle S. says:

    Ditto what Natasha (commenter 31) said.

    And I think whatever you do, you will find some inspiration for writing. Looking forward to it.

  36. T says:

    Good post.

  37. bodacia says:

    It happens. The husband recently got out of the restaurant biz after 17 years. He’s working for the ‘dark side’ now as a state health inspector. Pay is average, but the benefits ROCK!

  38. Sader says:

    I’m glad you’re finding your spot in life that makes you happy, best of luck in all your endevours!!

  39. L says:

    Thanks a lot for this post, it’s just what I need now. I’ve been an avid reader of your entries for years now. Can’t wait to see your book here in the Philippines.

  40. Ramki says:

    God bless and Godspeed, waiter.

  41. Matt says:

    Man, I wish I could have something to fall back on, I have recently come to the conclusion that I am trapped in the biz. Im addicted to getting the cash every night. I couldn’t budget a paycheck if my life depended on it after 15 years in the biz, its all I have done for my entire adult life

  42. ex-shopgirl says:

    You GO Waiter. Some of us need to remember it’s your life to live. It’s been our privilege to get a peek inside from time to time. Thanks for the insights, and we’re looking forward to your perspective on whatever may come next.

  43. a server says:

    Having a sense of timing and the courage to follow through is truly a gift. I hope my time is soon.

  44. Dr. Electro says:

    Promise me you’ll at least CONSIDER shooting Willem in the ass when you leave. You and I both know he deserves extra lead in his butt. If not that, at least think about feeding him a meaty knuckle sandwich.

    Then smile politely as you walk away.

  45. fellow server says:

    no dont DO that -sic the busboys on Wilhelms ass for a good beatdown. The excop owner will lose all respect for Willie’s punk ass and fire him on the spot!

  46. Paul says:

    What ever you decide, don’t hang up your promising writing/blogging. It is enjoyable to read on many different levels. Keep the faith!

  47. Jilly says:

    I live in France, I love reading your posts and was so pleased to see your latest posting this morning.

    I have been waitressing here in France, believe me thats harder when you are not French, I am English, definately get the piss taken out of me but in a fun way, most say the accent is cute!!!

    Will you be in Northern France at any time, perhaps to sign your book – I would love the chance to meet you and get a signed copy!!

  48. Prague Restaurant Blog says:

    I hope your next book will have this title:

    Nothing To Rant About

  49. DABCT says:

    Waiter, from comment 27. Everyone who has left serving knows when it is time, the “something else” becomes where the fun and new adventure comes in.

    Bob Dobbs, I totally agree.

  50. Amy says:

    “Like water always seeking its own level, its human nature to treat people with the lowest amount of consideration possible before encountering resistance. I usually come across as a laid back, friendly sort of guy, so people sometimes think they can intimidate me.”
    When I was a teacher, I experienced the same thing. Nice girl, I don’t have to listen to her. Uh, no. Also, the “I can walk away” vibe can serve you well in education. Kids were less likely to mess if they knew you didn’t care about being fired. It was surprising to them. Regarding your future, I know, Waiter, that you’ve been in the mental health field and are really knowledgable. You teach new staff with ease. Perhaps teaching is your next venue. Something to ponder.

  51. Robin G. says:

    Wow. Willem needs to get the shit smacked out of him, although I imagine life will really take care of that without your intervention.

    And as much as I hate it when people come in late, the fact is, if the restaurant is open, they have to get the same service that a couple coming in at 7 pm gets. I usually just warned them away from the seafood — it was never good at that hour.

  52. Kristina says:

    Wow, I hope you continue your blog, I love your posts on life and everything else just as much as your waiting posts.

  53. Josh says:

    I really enjoy your writing. I look forward to your posts; I’m pleased when I can start my day at waiterrant. Want you to know.

  54. Lisa says:

    If they are dining , I expect a tip .

  55. paul says:

    does Willem read this blog?

  56. Bubbles says:

    duel of the thousand-yard stares. nice.

  57. Phil says:

    Soon WaiterRant will be AuthorRant…*sigh*

  58. Sandra says:

    Wherever life’s road takes you,I wish you all the best on your journey ahead and hope you’ll find something that’s really close to what you want to do. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful anecdotes and stories here. Hope you won’t ever stop writing.

  59. Anon says:

    I remember well when I realized I had probably saved enough money to buy the business I was working for. I remember getting this wierd look from my boss, even though I hadn’t said anything. She just picked on my vibe I guess. LOL!!

  60. Laura says:

    So, your book is successful? Hope so. Isn’t it great knowing you can leave what your doing to do what you want?

  61. Michele says:

    I think i have lived this event in my former waitress life – you are a fabulous writer!

  62. breezyknees says:

    A friend who is a part owner of a restaurant here in the Orlando-Disney area tells me that EVERY server here knows that “I can walk away from this job at a moment’s notice” They can practically just walk across the street. It apparently keeps managers a little nervous. – Orick

  63. Emery in Maui in Virginia says:

    My ex used to say, “I was looking for a job when I found this one”, just before he’d quit.

  64. Cisco says:

    The smart ones are the ones that realize that and do something about it. So many end up getting stuck in the position because of the money, but eventually that is what they become: Like robbots rattling specials, processing cards and just going through the motions.

  65. Anonymous says:

    The attitude revealed with the statement “You think you’re better than everyone else around here” is that HE thinks he is better than everyone else there and is therefore entitled to treat everyone else there poorly. “All men are created equal” per the Declaration of Independence. Being a manager at any level gives one a certain amount of authority to carry out that for which they have also been given the responsibility. Coercion is the best tool, not force. Flies to honey, blah blah.

    I think getting let go from a previous job and finding another has given me the “I can walk away from this job” courage to try to right the wrongs in my current job. I pity those that haven’t ever changed jobs because they fear something that really isn’t that scary at all.

  66. loyal reader says:

    deep, insightful, and liberating.

    hope you find your way. as i’m still in search of mine.

  67. slag says:

    nice. i’m pondering leaving the restaraunt biz as well. i dont want to wake up one day and realize i’ve been at it for 5 or 10 years and never got anywhere. you should become a food celebrity like anthony bourdain, or grab some reality show called “next top waiter” or some shit.

  68. Daniel W says:

    Were you able to play captain Kirk and change the future?
    My vote is yes.

  69. v8_grrl says:

    so true, so true. the resentment of being left…the fear of change…the disdain of people who have done you no wrong….thought thought of leaving the free liquor and occasional double tip from the drunk extra large party.

    I just wrote a blog about the shittiest service i have had in while at a rest. called Tambien here in Denver…I never complain…I did…felt bad for an entire evening…

    I got you linked on my blog

  70. starr01 says:

    I am glad to hear you still plan to write. Your posts aren’t great JUST because they are about waiting tables and difficult customers (shoot anyone can complain) BUT because of your insight into life’s situations. I would definitely continue to read your blog as long as it is here.

    PS ordered book too

  71. F* says:

    One man’s end is anothers beginning. I wonder who’ll take over for you once you decide to explore new opportunities, and how he/she will handle situations that you would’ve otherwise had to face.

    Keep the posts coming waiter!

  72. Big Sexy says:

    Waiter! Can’t wait for your book to get here! I’m counting the days just like your web site is! Will we finally get to see you or will be forever wondering what you look like? Anyway, I agree with a previous commenter; I’d read your blog, whatever you wrote about because some of my favorite posts had NOTHING to do with waiting tables. It’s the way you tell the story.

    much love from your long time fan!

    Bigggg Sexxxxxyyyyy

  73. Wilhelm says:

    Got fired AGAIN, eh?

  74. al says:

    I am saddened by this. Now I know why Waiter hasn’t been posting as much lately.

    Waiter, I have an idea. I believe I sort of suggested in the last comment on the last post you made; but now I think it is more solid.

    In our lives there is always frustration, no matter what we do. You have a gift for putting that frustration into perspective and allowing the world to share in it with you. Please don’t stop doing that. If you have to change the name of the site, ok. Or create a new one to track your new found frustrations.

    Another idea, is to make WaiterRant more open to allow waiters from around the world to post into it.

    I much prefer the first idea, would be happy to have either and I would feel exuberant to have both.

  75. Anonymous says:

    good job not giving into Willem’s bs. i personally think that he should take some management and communication at work courses. it would do him good — as a manager, you have to be twice as careful as to what you say and the way you come off. and anything that is ok to say for a fellow waiter/busboy that gets written off as ‘oh he’s just playing around’, does not get treated the same way when it comes out of manager’s mouth. Willem should be more careful or some day it would cost him a job or even a law suit.

  76. Fe says:

    I used to work in a call center several years ago and it was pretty much hell on earth. One morning I woke up before my alarm could go off and just sat there. I couldn’t move, I could barely breath, I honestly could not face showering, dressing and driving to work. I called in, quit, sat there in shock for several minutes, then went back to bed and had the best sleep I had had in months.

    When the moment comes, Waiter, just walk away. Even if you don’t have anything to fall back on, walk anyway. Jobs like the call center and Cafe Machiavelli and not worth it.

  77. knucklebunny says:

    Mr. Waiter. As the months have gone by attempting to catch up to the years your blog has been active, it has come to a slow crawl.

    I thank you for the countless times your thoughts have amused, but you know your time to end this site has come.

    Your original thoughts have drawn to a trickle and now you are left with advertisements for your book every two weeks or so.

    Wishing you the best but it would seem that you left your flock in a holding pattern for your own benefit.

    Also, I wouldn’t want you as my waiter these days, your soul left that involvement many moons ago.

    Best wishes,


  78. Annie S. says:

    Willem can go eat a tomato! That revenge thing again.

  79. The Waitress says:

    How very well put, Waiter.

    This post has pinpointed my current feelings toward the casual dining branch of the industry since my first foray into upscale eateries. I’m burnt out on the corporate casual chains I’ve given the last 13 years of my life and now that I’ve got something better (or at least newer and different) going on, I’m impatient at best for my egress from that side of the street to be complete. If only I didn’t have to wait so long for my benefits to come, I’d be out of there tomorrow. But thus is the life of a waitress with kids, and kids need health insurance. So in the meantime, I do the job half-heartedly at best and walk around with an I-don’t-need-this-shit attitude while looking forward to my next shift in the shiny new place.

    Thanks for reading my mind again, Waiter. Great work as always.

  80. Marina says:

    A dear friend of mine left the biz after 45 years and she swears that as much as she was discouraged a majority of the time, she still misses it 10 years later. We meet for coffee every now and then and she always stares at the kitchen, talks about her garden and her dog, and rearranges her napkin every 30 seconds.

    That being said, when it’s time to go…. go.

  81. xkitchenstaff says:

    Yeah, that table was the most feared thing by the BotH, but like you said, it’s the job.

    Willem has proven himself to be an asshole again and again, but beware Waiter, it’s a thin line keeping ‘standing up for yourself’ from becoming ‘I’m an arrogant prick’.

  82. Melanie says:

    Oh, man, do I know what you are saying… As a bartender and a server and an owner I have had to take care of the lates on many occassions… We have these regulars in the summer who sit out in their car until 10mins before closing, then come in to order a full soup-to-nuts dinner because they like the servers undivided attention. Yikes. We tried to explain why this is not a good idea… Anyways, love your blog and your stories.

  83. banteron says:

    I recall the wrath I received from the waitstaff and kitchen when I sat a couple down after the kitchen was preparing to close early. When you are
    making guests feel comfortable and going that extra mile for them , you honor the entire hospitality profession. This is extraordinary in an industry which benchmarks it’s success on return customers. I salute you for the efforts at treating your guests and co-workers as nicely as you have.

  84. Thomas says:

    You can quit when this book comes out that you keep mentioning. Forty four more days good lord!

  85. shadowcall says:

    ah, Waiter, I do hope that while you find your happiness and continue your brilliant success with writing that you will not desert the blog and leave us without that (albeit imaginary) feeling of knowing you. I check your blog most every day, and while I rarely comment, your posts always touch me, change me, making me laugh out loud, or forcing me to face the hollowness that is the human condition.

    All I ask is that you don’t leave us alone out here.

  86. drangle says:

    blah blah blah.
    suck it, waiter.

  87. Ron says:

    one favor waiter, and this from someone who’s worked their entire life in the industry, just please before you go, get rid of willem. I know you have the ability. I know you respect everyone else at the cafe, and hold the owner in high regard. We all know that Willem is the cancer that I’m sure has already cost the owner a lot of talented people, or at least people with “future talent.” to whoever replaces you, to the busboys who hope to one day be a waiter, to the younger waiters trying to hone their craft, you owe them all that much. Please dispatch of willem. non violently, and in such a way that his days at cafe are ended, possibly even his days in the industry. Take care, God Bless, and whatever you do, please keep us in the loop. On behalf of all regular readers, “Waiter we love you!”
    in a plutonic politically correct manner of course.

  88. Ryan says:

    I quit my job bussing tables last Sunday. They paid me $6.25 base, which is a high base for anybody on the wait staff, but only 1% tips. Fuck that. I was accepted into an internship earlier that pays $10.00/hr, which started later that week. I almost thought about staying just ’cause I was finally warming up to the people I was working with, but I decided it wasn’t worth being financially walked all over compared to the amount of work I was doing (one bus boy v. 40 tables at a bar/grill). There are times to work for love, and there are times to work for you.

  89. deena says:

    Along with #56…Once you are out of Willem’s life you should print out the one’s written about his tirades and let him look in the mirror for awhile.

    And at least the last couple of the night was conscious, aware, tipped good and not a pain.

  90. disgruntled says:

    Good on you for not letting your manager walk all over you. I had a similar situation happen just yesterday – my tables were crapping all over me, manager was being a complete jerk and not helping me out at all, and I was *thisclose* to walking out the door (from a restaurant that I’ve been happy at for 3 years, mind you)… but at the end of the evening (after confronting said manager and informing him that he was not to speak to me that way again and him apologizing, thank you very much), when it was all said and done, I came to the realization that maybe, just maybe, after 5+ years in the restaurant biz, my days there should come to an end. It’s a scary feeling… I have no idea where to go next!

  91. thesarahthatneversleeps says:

    It’s a tricky industry for sure. You don’t know how many times I have had the “I’m getting out of the industry” conversation with friends and acquaintances, only to find that two years later you are still asking someone how they want their steak prepared. Being a waitress taught me a lot about life and people, but when you’re truly ready to be done it’s impossible to serve even one more glass of wine to prick customer.

  92. chefchik48 says:

    You are a wonder. Thank you for all your insightful writings.

    Remember that you can always jump back into the frying pan once in awhile by going the Temp route. With your attitude you can write you own ticket for which parties you want to work. AND then write us about it and help keep us sane or at lest less mad lol

  93. Ava says:

    Is that the fat lady warming her vocal cords?

  94. JMB says:

    Hopefully this site will then transform into “cubicle rant” or something similar. I’d hate to see your writing disappear simply because you change careers!

    Also, obviously you must realize this, but Willem is an asshole. No matter what job you have, there is always one person who makes the job environment miserable or at least unpleasant. Good for you for not letting it get to you too much. Perhaps you’re not better than anyone else there, but you certainly are the bigger man than he is.

  95. Catharine says:

    I left my “dayjob” of 15 years on May 2nd. I have no idea what I’ll be doing next, except trying to write freelance for a living, and starting a Ph.D. program come fall, 2009. Until then, I have no steady paycheck, am paying through the nose to COBRA my benefits for the next 18 months, am back to pounding the pavement getting people to read my stuff, made my first resume in 15 years, and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to pay the cellphone bill.

    Now… ask me if I’m deliriously, wildly, indescribably happy… go on… ask me….

    Good luck with the book, Waiter. If you do a reading in LA, let me know, so I can come and see it.


  96. Anonymous says:

    The latest we have to blog about is the profession…this may be dark and dreary and I apoligize..but the serving industry has got ME down… I try to do it as a profession but the way people treat me… Do I sell myself to the devil…I am educated, I try my best, but the people m ake me feel like shiate… does it feel to be a chump…you spend your whole life pretending to be someone and then u realize it can be knocked down like a stack of brios in an instant….add the reluctant to the subscribers…cause you know its right..server bond…
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  97. Rita says:

    Good post, but… you used to be really funny. Now every post is an attempted life lesson, and it’s getting old. I don’t have a problem with the occasional lesson, but you are starting to sound didactic. Try funny once again!

  98. Ugh says:

    I don’t think Willem’s “picking up on a vibe” … You’ve been disgustingly rude and disrespectful to YOUR BOSS seemingly since Day 1.

    Just because you don’t like Willem or the way he treats you, it doesn’t give you the right to talk to him the way that you do. You have a real problem with authority. And it apparently comes out in the way you treat your customers as well. Come up with all the excuses you want to, but when you’re a waiter your job is to SERVE. Your expectations are all fucked up. Get yourself in therapy, cuz it’s probably beyond any one job. Your entitled, arrogant attitude probably goes back a VERY long time. It makes for sometimes entertaining blogs, but i’d hate to have to work with you or god forbid tell you what I want for my entree. Look within little man.

  99. Bob Dobbs says:

    “Just because you don’t like Willem or the way he treats you, it doesn’t give you the right to talk to him the way that you do. You have a real problem with authority.”

    Not necessarily defending Waiter, but — how do you act when you know you’re better than the boss, and the boss sorta knows it, too, and is trying to take you down to his low standards? You can let him, or you can stand up for yourself and whatever integrity you’ve learned in your industry.

    Of course the boss can always fire you. Isn’t it interesting that Willem hasn’t?

  100. Pat says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of your book. I would really love to be able to put it on my Kindle. Any chance your publisher might consider this? I’m sure there would be a market.

    I’ve never been a server, but people are people, and Willem seems to be a bully threatened by your apparent fearlessness of him. He feels his power being eroded by your attitude. Keep up the good work!

    I hope your book takes off quickly so you may retire from the entire restaurant industry. I will miss your blog, however. Perhaps you will write more books after this?

  101. Comfort Addict says:

    Excellent post, waiter. You’re absolutely right about not letting people crap on you. I’m looking forward to your book.

  102. heather (errantdreams) says:

    When you decide to leave I’ll miss your posts about restaurant biz… but it sounds like you definitely need to make that move. It’s a great thing to have that kind of insight.

  103. The Restaurant Blogger says:

    Another great post waiter. It’s good to know your limits and when its time to leave the job. I have witnessed friends holding jobs for years only struggling each year that went by. Their jobs became a comfort zone. Just knowing how much they would earn each night prevented them to take the next leap. I have been there, but soon realized it was a terrible mistake. Much success to you in your new upcoming career.

  104. mykl says:

    i love you waiter. im scared that you will someday leave me. maybe ill be looking forward to Accountant Rant in the future? who knows. just please dont stop!

  105. gailsie says:

    yup, just reading the posts for the past year, there’s a change in tone. Stick a fork in you, you’re done.
    Sometimes we’re only meant to do things for a short period of time – not that nine years is a short period of time, but it does sound like it’s time to check out other possibilities.
    Let us know what happens, and good luck with future endeavors.
    can’t wait to read the book.

  106. Natalie says:

    I don’t understand why the fuck Willem is still around. Like, the owner of Cafe Machiavelli seems like a pretty chill guy, so why does he keep this unreliable, unstable douchebag heading up his wait staff?

  107. Charlotte says:

    Great story Waiter, I like how you didn’t let Willem walk all over you. I’m notorious for being somewhat of a doormat, so seeing you demand respect give me a little hope that I can do it too.

  108. Dan says:


    So, if the restaurant industry profession is winding down, what would you like to do to pass the time and pay the rent? If so, what would the sequel to be??


    Might this be fodder for a sequel to the soon to be released “Waiter Rant” and the follow-on movie “Waiter Rant” staring (Pick one: John Cleese, Hugh Laurie, Jason Alexander, Billy Crystal, David Suchet, Pierce Brossnan, or ????????)


  109. Kum Hurray says:

    Hi, my name is Kum Hurray, I do everthing fast, that why they call me Kum Hurray. Waiter next job should be something fast like me, it more fun than slow job like writing book! That all, thanks!

  110. Gayle says:

    First, good for you for not letting that guy push you around. I learned that lesson a long time ago. People will push you as far as you let them.

    Second, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a couple of years now. It’s been enlightening, amusing, sometimes heartbreaking. Yet you probably are right, it’s time to think about moving on from being a waiter to something new. I look forward to your future endeavors and thoughts when you do.

  111. Stephan says:

    Wow, Waiter…talk about mixed emotions. The bigger, better part of me is really happy for you that you’re in a postiion to move onward and upward. But there’s a small, selfish part of me that’s already dreading not having Waiterrant to read anymore. Bummer…

    Nice way to handle Willem, though. But on some level, you almost have to feel sorry for the guy. Someone that spends that much time/energy being nasty to others must lead a really angry and depressing life.

  112. cr says:

    You are an entertaining and witty writer, i love your posts – keep it up

  113. Mike says:

    Burnout like that certainly isn’t limited to waiting tables — every industry has it.
    It’s not too late to find something new in life. Maybe it’s time to cash in your chips and find a new adventure. With your writing ability and your talent for pleasing customers, I’m certain that you won’t have to go too far before you land back on your feet.

  114. Leafs Fan says:

    Kudos for being the better man.

  115. that girl says:

    My favorite term: “vodkafied head”

    People can pick up on vibes like that – it’s weird how we put off things we think are safe in our own brains..

  116. Reddgrrl says:

    I think Willem’s crappy attitude intimidated someone, once, a LONG time ago and he keeps being a jerk because he wants to regain that sense of control. But alas, not over The Waiter!

  117. Uber Bitch says:

    So I am wondering Waiter, when you are done what will you do? I assume we will no longer get to enjoy your ramblings on restaurant life, as it will no longer be a part of your life. How will we know what has happened to the Waiter? How will we know where life has carried you and what ever will I do without reading your blogs? Believe me I understand being done with it, and I have been picking up on the vibe that you are done now for quite a while. You can sense it in the mood underlying your writing. I am not surprised to hear you say you are about to call it quits in the life, but I must say I will miss your views and ideals on what seems mundane, but can be all-consuming when you are involved in it.

  118. a server says:

    @ Uber Bitch

    Comment #27 is from The Waiter himself

    “I’m not going to drop the site Rachel, it’ll just become something else.”

  119. L says:

    i agree with you. i was a quiet type and worked in an office with some real bitches. they’d say what they liked to me because they knew they could get away with it. you have to put your foot down early before the bad treatment becomes the norm. your column is enlightening as well as entertaining. x

  120. lawrie taylor says:

    On the one hand it will be sad when you stop being a waiter, on the other I hope you will be going on to more fulfilling work (not just materially fulfilling) and will be writing and sharing your experiences with us. Right on and best wishes!!

  121. Johnny says:

    “Like water always seeking its own level, its human nature to treat people with the lowest amount of consideration possible before encountering resistance.”

    Truer words were never spoken. Took me way too long to figure that one out on my own.

  122. Jennifer says:

    After 5 years at a restuarant, I was verbally assaulted by a fellow server, who felt she’d not been tipped out enough for her expediting shift (I gave her 10% of what I’d made to that point) This tirade continued for 45 minutes, and she took it upon herself to go through my purse and throw it in the trash. Our illustrious “manager” stood there dumbstruck the entire time. I walked out that evening, 3 active tables, and never returned to work. BEST decision I’ve ever made. No one deserves to be abused at work, in any compacity. Good luck Waiter.

  123. texas tom says:

    I’ve been gone over a year and I see we are still waiting for ‘Godot’….the book that is..

  124. Josh says:

    I have to say… not too many years ago, I was at that “crossroads” after 10 years of waiting tables from Denny’s style to fine dining.

    Run. Never look back.

    (You’ll miss the cold hard cash though, I don’t care if your book sells a billion copies… theres something about a good night and a fistfull of cash that always put a smile in my heart)

  125. Mull Nullordroll says:

    Maybe Waiter would be happier back in Austalia like we heard about last time.

  126. Bud Munchlip says:

    Hey Mull (and what the hell kind of name is that anyway?) – are you trying to start some kind of problem here? Waiter can always go back to Australia, it’s like the Prodigal Son story. We would gladly take him back.

  127. Dick Burntip says:

    That’s right, just because Waiter moved away doesn’t mean he cant come back home. At least it’s not like Canada…

  128. Petey Pullme says:

    Yo ay, just what the hell is that supposed to mean Dick?

  129. Dick Burntip says:

    Hey Petey, you know – typical Canadium style, wait until you decide, then change, maybe it could be a tough adjustment for Waiter if he were going back to Canada and the stigmatization. You know, typical Canada style…

  130. Bud Munchlip says:

    Petey, just remember who switched sides in the big WW2 when they were about to lose – it wasn’t Australia, was it?

  131. Petey Pullme says:

    So it’s bag on Canada time again, is it? Well, if I recall, Mel Gibson – AN AUSTRALIAN – stopped talking like an Australian when he became famous – how about that as “typical Australia style?”

    And by the way num-nut, I saw your other posting – Michael Moore did not convert from American to “Canadium.”

  132. Leon says:

    What is up with these recent posts? You guys are just so far off…

  133. Alex says:

    The part about expecting tips really got to me. I’ve always seen a difference between a true server and just another order taker who goes through the motions and just waits to get paid, not seeing the correlation between work and money. Your post makes me catch the things I’ve been doing wrong at work lately and it’s made me realize one thing – I need a fucking vacation.

  134. Liz says:

    OMG. I found your blog merely 2 weeks ago and cant believe I didnt find it sooner. I will definitely be one of the first people buying your book. You’re writing is incredible (as you already know).

  135. Bruce says:

    Nice post.

    I think the Water is at his writing best when he takes the lenses off and looks for the objective reality, like when he recognizes that he understands where Willem’s anger comes from (or at least he thinks he does).

    Much better writing than 99% of blogs out there.

    Note to some commenters — only comment while sober. Otherwise, you really show your hiney. And it’s ugly.

  136. drangle says:

    Whatever, Bruce. My hiney’s a hell of a lot better looking than yours. Now, your *dad’s* on the other hand was so cute looking when I reamed him out hard last night.

  137. Beerslinger says:

    Waiter, excellent writing, and an excellent point. I spent years of my life as a bartender, and I always tried to show people more respect than I recieved, and at the same time I tried never to get walked on.

    It is a very fine line to walk.

    And I know what you mean about a restraunt saving you.

  138. illiniwatcher says:

    Aawww, Mr. Waiter. It will be a truly sad day the day you hang up your apron for good. You are one of the best writers in America today!

    So if you decide to change professions, can we hope for a “Rant” blog (and/or book) in whatever new field you pursue? Oh please oh please, say YES! I – we – must have your wit, your observations on human nature, your humor.

    I look forward to your forthcoming book. And yes, another one of your bloglist folks – me – is writing a book. But mine won’t be nearly as fun to read as yours – it’s on writing software for handheld computers. (I can hear the yawns…)

  139. Anne says:

    Very glad to hear that you’ll continue to write. I’m looking forward to seeing what form the blog will take and to reading your book when it arrives at my door. Cheers!

  140. Mathilda Broomhilda says:

    Speaking as a feminist (in the classical constructionist mode), I find Waiter’s writing to be somewhat neo-post-revisionist feministical. You can see Waiter searching for his inner she-goddess, but at the same expressing a disgust for the idea of modern woman-hood disempowerment reaction chain identity. It’s classical, but almost hurtful…in a consructionist way, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  141. Ajeya says:

    A really nice post. I identified with the laid-back personality who appears to be someone you can push around. You seem to be in a phase of your life where significant changes will happen. Exciting times. 🙂

  142. Lisa says:

    Mathilda Broomhilda I can’t stop laughing. What a hoot!!

  143. Gas Man says:

    Hey Bruce, enough of the hiney talk! We can all agree that nobody likes to be around people full of hot air! This sort of thing leaves a foul odor! And a bad taste in everyone’s mouth! If we expel noxious vibes in other’s direction, we can expect they will in turn do the same to us! People will hold their breath around you, knowing you will eventually blow!

  144. Ripper McFootsy says:

    I like rootbeer. My mom likes rootbeer. My dad likes rootbeer. I like the way rootbeer feels when it bubbles in my mouth. I like the way rootbeer tastes when it flows into my tummy. Sometimes I worry that I drink too much rootbeer, and all that sugar will cause me to go into pancreatic failure and I’ll die, all because of f***ing rootbeer

  145. Adrie says:

    Wow. I am seriously in love. No, no, I mean it. This stuff is incredibly gorgeous. Humor, insight on human behavior, and of course, complains of the biz, all held together with some awesome prose. You are fantastic–I’m definitely purchasing your book!

  146. OGX says:

    Just a suggestion, Waiter–do what I did. I went into restaurant management for….way too long. When I returned to “serving”–delivering–it was like a fresh start. I enjoy interacting with the customer again.
    Everyone experiences burnout.
    A fitting end to the story would be that when you quit the timing is so horrible that it is the impetus that causes Willem to get fired. That would be great.

  147. hmm... says:

    I’m sorry to say this, but there’s no need to antagonize W so near closing hour.

    Though he might be rude, pushy etc. but there must be a better way of standing up for yourself while not making an enemy…

    Have some pity on him, you’ve become so angry since the last restaurant.

    (my 2 cents… not enough as tip!)

  148. Rachele says:

    Wonderful job. I spent 17 years as a restaurant manager and you sound like the “dream” employee. No wonder your book is being published, I’m sure you give your best no matter what you do. Congrats

  149. Anonymous says:

    i think i read this post earlier too… do u repeat ur posts if u dont publish a new post?

  150. frank D says:

    being tangentially involved with recent restaurant closings and having eaten almost every meal out for quite some time and having a daughter in the industry, may i make the following observations –

    as i observe servers , most are perpetually in motion and working hard, however, i see tasks not directly related to “customer service” consuming a significant portion of their time. prep-time before a shift and clean-up after a shift obviously require additional server time, but it seems many servers prefer to accomplish these tasks during the serving shift time. this leads to the inevitable conflicts inherent in managing time between customer service and doing chores.

    additionally, many servers have indicated to me, they prefer to work shifts using fewer servers so what tips they do generate are shared among fewer, if any, other servers. a very popular example of this is a bartender who also is assigned certain tables.

    the combination of these circumstances typically leads to servers being overwhelmed and unprepared, which of course leads eventually to an overall lesser quality of service to the customers. the reason is, IMHO, there is no time built into this equation for the inevitable events that occur, or should occur.

    the bartender is away from the bar customers for inordinately long periods and rounds go begging, a single server is overwhelmed with an unexpected rush and has no support to count on, new customers arrive to sit among tables uncleaned and dirty from previous customers who have long ago gone, etc, etc. if these are familiar and reqular occurances at your restaurant, maybe your customers are not to blame for insufficient tips.

    harried and rushed customer service can never become friendly service and certainly the best service anticipates customer demands. however, when something wrong happens, it’s usually not important to the customer why it happened. what makes an impression is how it was handled. on this note i have found servers are usually their own worst enemies, either blaming each other or else have no economic incentive to help their fellow server.

    by no means does this suggest the customer is not the root of many problems and i have observed many instances of saintly servers having to deal with impossible customers. the best insulation i have found to this is to be personally known to the customer to the extent you know each others NAMES and the server can anticipate that customers basic needs. the cheers motto may be corny but the most comfortable word anyone can hear is their own name ! very few customers would stiff a friend. i find myself patronizing a certain restaurant on a certain shift because of a certain server. repeat customers, especially those that request a certain server, will very frequently come to depend on a server, and that cannot be bad for tips.

    IMHO, a position of “us” against “them”, whichever side you take, is only counterproductive. as a server, make personalized service a priority to establish a customer following and the tips will follow. as a customer, take into account the service offered and patronize only those restaurant which give good service and tip generously. overreward the overacheivers and underreward the underacheivers and many of these issues will take care of themselves.


  151. KD says:

    Willem Sucks. Head servers suck. Most are so power hungry and get no respect because they are too power hungry. I am in the situation that I don’t need to work my restaurant job but do so only to get something I want quicker and everybody knows I could leave at moments notice and yeah that drives my bitchy head server to single me out, but I also stand up for myself ever since working there cause if you don’t they will eat you alive. Serving can be fun especially if you have fun co-workers, some of the best memories I have are from serving at a job. It’s a great way to meet people too, but if your burnt out, get out.

  152. Maui says:

    OK, fangirl moment over.

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