Editor's note: Chow Bella usually gives bylines, so why the big secret about who writes Waiter Confidential? Well, consider all the toes that Anonymous could step on. This industry pro has seen it all in 25 years of waiting tables and tending bar at some of the Valley's most beloved restaurants, and what's more, he still gets a nightly glimpse of the human condition from his post at one of Phoenix's culinary hotspots. From well-known restaurateurs to the people he waited on last night, anybody's fair game for Anonymous. But don't worry - he's not naming any names.
I left the Midwest for Arizona in 1983, barely 20, fairly broke, and pretty much clueless as to what I'd do with myself once I got here. Doing what felt good first, I spent a month and nearly every cent I had celebrating my newfound emancipation, until the sobering reality of my last $16 started me looking for work.
Despite some strong, preconceived notions about the indignity of the occupation, I took a job waiting tables. On my first solo shift, a $20 tip doubled my net worth and changed my disposition.
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Twenty-five years later, I count that twenty-spot among the many mixed blessings a life in restaurants has brought me. On one hand, I met the mother of my children through the business. On the other, she divorced me years ago, thanks to my too many late nights out and away from her, home, and the kids.
Where the pros and cons are concerned, even we pros can get conned by what a restaurateur friend of mine describes as the "Dark Side" of our chosen profession: "Working nights, fast cash, and liquored-up libidos." Still, there's something intoxicating about earning a living by one's wits, working in an arena in which there's rarely a dull moment, and where I've enjoyed a ringside seat at the circus that is human social behavior.
My name is Waiter, and I'm an industry-aholic. At this point, it's in my veins, I suppose, and I'm ready to bleed out some of what I've taken in -- a little at a time -- for your consideration.
From The Last Supper through every big night out since, breaking bread and having a little nip together have provided the roundtable where folks let their hair down and say and do things that speak volumes about who and what we are in the overall scheme of things. And from that fabled party of thirteen to every bar and table tended to this day, there's been someone like me, earning a living and eavesdropping in on the conversation. I am Waiter. Confidentially speaking.