Thursday, June 2, 2011

Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica

My favorite part of this book? When it ended. I hated it. I don't know that I've ever applied the term "mind-numbingly boring" to a book before, but it definitely fits here. I was on page 100 before I conceded that the book would not get any better, and since I had already invested so much I didn't feel like I could quit. Oh how I wish I had. If you know anything about me and my relationship with books, you should see a big red flag right about now. You should be thinking, "But wait. Wendy doesn't hate books." And you'd be right. As much as I'd love to write a book someday, I know I'm not actually capable of doing so. Therefore, when someone actually accomplishes that feat, I tend to respect them. I give them the benefit of the doubt thinking, "Well, it's better than I could do." I couldn't even bring myself to do that here.

My main complaint? The author is just plain irritating. I spent 302 pages festering with annoyance. The way he writes, his thought process, his personality all just grated on my nerves. The most annoying thing, though, was the organization of the book. Or maybe I should say the lack thereof. Dublanica supposedly set out to write a book about his experience as a waiter. By the title, I was clued into the fact that there would be some complaining in the book. I figured I would enjoy a funny little memoir full of stories of stupid restaurant customers that act as a microcosm of society. Instead I got a messy conglomeration of self-indulgent horn tooting and vast generalizations with repetitive and crassly recounted examples. Several times the author admits he is arrogant. Well guess what, Steve. That doesn't make it okay. Nor does it somehow make it entertaining to read about.

Another complaint? Overuse of the word "yuppies". Any time an author has a favorite word he or she uses in every chapter,  it screams ignorance. (Stephenie Meyer and "surreptitiously," anyone?) Get a freaking thesaurus. But this particular issue screams even louder considering that the term he favored no longer applies to society. I recognize that Dublanica studied psychology in college (though for some reason his book is plagued by several references to debunked Sigmund Freud theories), so he might not know this. Yuppies were a class of people (young urban professionals) that emerged in the 1980's. And the term stayed in the 1980's. People trying to revive it in the twenty-first century sound old and out-of-touch. Dublanica is no exception. 

Okay, but the actual reason I hated this book is its whiny angst. I'm aware that term is inherently redundant, but there's no better way to say it. As I turned each page I was thinking, "Get over it," or, "Cry me a river," or, "SO WHAT???" I had several professors in college say that if you ever saw that note written in a margin of your paper, "So what?" you knew you had work to do. I'm at a loss as to why this man's editor never gave him that helpful note. Perhaps he didn't have enough ink in his pen to write the note 302 times.

At this point, I'd like to digress. Forget about the book and let's just talk about jobs in a service profession. Any time you're working with the general public you risk the frustrations that accompany the masses. I feel like I have plenty of room to say this. I work as a court clerk. I literally spend every day working with people from all walks of life. I deal with the wealthiest attorneys in the state (or, usually, their runners) and homeless men. I interact with drug dealers, drug users, Mormon moms, immigrants, and Judges. Trust me, I know how taxing it can be to work with these people day in and day out. In that regard, I suppose you could say I should be more sympathetic to the plight of waiters as it appears in this book. But guess what? I'm not. The author worked in a high-end restaurant. I'm sorry, but no matter what he thinks, he did not see a true sampling of society there.

One section of his book states, "I've seen people get married and divorced. I've seen babies being born and parents mourning the loss of children. I've waited on people celebrating birthdays and  grieving at funeral repasts. I've helped people when they had heart attacks and seizures. I've witnessed customers being kind and cruel. I've met the rich and famous and the poor and common. I've spoken to nuns and priests, rapists and pornographers, criminals and cops. I shook hands with soldiers and politicians. I've looked upon the beautiful and the ugly" (192).  He just described a morning on the front counter at the courthouse. And guess what? I'm still able to enjoy my job. Dublanica acts like working with people is a curse. He's in the wrong line of work. The thing I love most about my job is how I'm able to learn from so many types of people. He acts like society is a disgusting pool of people lesser than himself. I have no tolerance for people who do nothing but complain. Make a change in your life or make your life work.

Finally, I was irritated that this entire book was about writing this book. Maybe that sounds confusing, but it's actually pretty straightforward. Every chapter he talked about his book deal, gathering stories for his book, wanting to write a book, having writers block about his book. JUST WRITE YOUR BOOK ALREADY. The way he put the thing together, it was like this agonizingly long introduction. You always felt like you knew what the book was supposed to be about but only because he told you a million times and not because you were actually able to read it for yourself.

Ugh. Like I said, irritating.

Am I being too harsh? Have you read the book? Did you feel the same as I did or did you take a different outlook? Are you familiar with the author's website Is it any better than the book? Let me know!