I have a friend who works as a server in the KC area. She's told tales that would make your skin crawl - awful customers, knife-throwing chefs, drunken management - all apparently pretty typical occurrences in the wonderful world of waiting.
It is she I think of when I read Waiter Rant, and it was she I thought of last night when I went to see the Waiter unmasked at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library.
I'd never been in the Plaza library building. I'd gotten close when eating lunch at The Mixx or Bo Lings, but last night was the first time I'd been inside. What a beautiful place it is. I'm used to the Mid-Continent Public Libraries of the Northland - drab, one story jobs with little to no personality and zero welcoming vibe. But the Plaza library is so different and inviting and almost inspirational, in a way. It's a place that seems to beckon readers of all types and welcome exploration.
The speaking space was just as beautiful. I expected a bunch of plastic chairs arranged haphazardly around a decrepit podium, the smell of musty books filling my nose and making me stifle sneezes. Instead, there are dedicated auditoriums with comfortable seats, large windows, pleasing lighting and great views of the stage.
There was a good turnout for the Waiter's talk. He just recently came out, so to speak, by revealing his identity in the New York Post. So, I can sleep with a clear conscience when I tell you that the Waiter's name is Steve Dublanica. Here's a picture:
Meesha (from who's blog I found out about this event - thank you!) mentions today that his mental image of the Waiter didn't mesh with the actual version of the Waiter. I totally understand, and hate it when that happens. A couple of months ago, I found a YouTube video of the voice cast of Family Guy recording scenes. It shocked me to no end to find out that Cleveland is voiced by a skinny white guy. I don't know if I'll ever recover. I don't know who I pictured as the Waiter, but it wasn't this guy. This guy looks like a friend's next-door neighbor, the guy who shows up unannounced to hang out and drink your beer because the wife won't let him keep it in his own fridge.
I think this was one of the Waiter's first public speaking engagements, and he seemed a bit nervous at first. Lots of lip-smacking, referring to his notes and lines that sounded like a prepared essay. But once he spoke for a bit, and especially during the Q&A session, he seemed to relax more.
Speaking of the Q&A session... I've never been to an event like this before, so maybe this happens all the time... but what's with all the crazies? I mean, one woman asked a question that seemed more like a story than a question, and she wouldn't shut up to let him answer. Another lady asked (in way too many confusing words) why the waitress she had the other night served her burnt chicken. Like this guy knows all servers everywhere and would take her complaint to the waiter God. And then there was the guy who asked if the Waiter had a good publicist because his friend the screenwriter wrote a movie and couldn't get any media attention. WTF? Where do these people come from? Do most events like this attract the crazy parade, or was the Waiter just lucky?
But most of the questions were good ones, and he answered them graciously. Although, I have to say that it seems almost too perfect that the only person who ever confronted him about his blog before he revealed his identity was... Russell Crowe? Seriously? I dunno about that one.
Reading Waiter Rant and hearing the Waiter speak reminds me to be the best restaurant customer I can be. We tip well, we are polite, we order off the menu, we only expect to be treated like regular customers at places where were are regular customers and generally behave as if we are guests in the server's home, which, in a way, we are. As with anything, treat others as you would like to be treated and good things will come.
By the way - my friend the server was supposed to meet us at the library last night for this event, but was so tired after she got off work that her quick nap turned into an hours-long sleep. Being a server ain't easy, folks. Be good to them.