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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want A Tip? Read This Book!
I was truly suprised by this book. Working in the customer relations industry now, I can truly relate to Debra Ginsberg's incredibly accurate depictions of the the public customer.
This book was an incredibly fast read, as Ginsberg's candidly witty writing style jumps out at you and brings you right into the stories with her. Sometimes, I could clearly see...
Published on August 5, 2000 by Chad Spivak

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite warm enough
WAITING: THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A WAITRESS is a selection of Debra Ginsberg's recollections and stories based on twenty year's worth of waiting tables. The results are fairly mixed. While the two decades have given her more than her fair share of horror stories and anecdotes, not all of the tales recounted here come across well. The style of the book is very...
Published on June 24, 2002 by Andrew McCaffrey


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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want A Tip? Read This Book!, August 5, 2000
By 
Chad Spivak (North Miami Beach, Florida) - See all my reviews
I was truly suprised by this book. Working in the customer relations industry now, I can truly relate to Debra Ginsberg's incredibly accurate depictions of the the public customer.
This book was an incredibly fast read, as Ginsberg's candidly witty writing style jumps out at you and brings you right into the stories with her. Sometimes, I could clearly see myself sitting at one of the tables in her restaurant, just taking in the scene (I hope I wasn't at "Table 50").
The book chronologically takes you through her career as a waitress. Through her wonderful stories, you get to see her develop as a waitress, and more importantly, mature as a person. Over her twenty-year span of waitressing, you get to live through her struggles, financial woes, and life awakenings. It is one truly remarkable ride.
In essence, Waiting is a nice readable memior that hits close to home to everybody on a certain level. It is extremely well written, and the humorous, colorful tones make the flow incredibly smooth. This book is worth reading for the mere fact that it will open your eyes and make you reflect upon your own attitudes when it comes to dining out. Ginsberg wrote a cogent book about a life story that was a real pleasure to read. Waiting will not disappoint.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-out loud funny and wonderful, August 3, 2000
By 
reviewer (Gardnerville, Nevada USA) - See all my reviews
Debra Ginsberg's book should give pause not only to the most inveterately rude diner but it should remind us of the importance of civility toward others, including our restaurant servers. This is not a behind-the-scenes, tell-all book about what goes on in the 'back of the house' or the 'front of the house' in a restaurant. It is instead, a highly readable life story that rings true on many levels. Ginsberg can be subtlely understated in her wit or down-right off-color funny in describing the escapades of her customers and colleagues. You also share in her evolving self-awareness through the stages of her life.
Moreover, Ginsberg has a facile, accessible writing style that pleases so much so that I read the book over two days. Often, I felt as though I were having a conversation with a friend not reading a book. You share in her struggles, life events, and epiphanies. Merely categorizing this book as yet another 'coming of age' memoir seems too trite for what it signifies to the reader.
"Waiting" is funny, poignant, acerbic, and most of all puts an important perspective on what is truly meaningful - - - life should be lived with, as a philosopher once said, with an "absolute quality." Ginsberg's realization of this truth, at the end of her story, resonates. I hope we have more of Ginsberg in the future.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put it Down, August 10, 2000
By A Customer
Debra Ginsberg's "Waiting..." perfectly complements Anthony Boudrain's "Kitchen Confidential." As a former "food service professional" myself, I laughed, I howled, I wet my pants at her spot-on tale of life in the restaurant business.
At the heart of Ms. Ginsberg's book runs the theme of working at a profession that she enjoys, even loves (well, mostly), while questioning whether to continue or get a "real job" that takes advantage of her college degree - a job that's more "respectable" but pays less. (I remember the withering looks I'd get from people when I told them I was a waitress --- I could see my reflection in their eyes instantly morphing into Flo from Mel's Diner.) I had a hard time making the transition from waiting myself --- it was years before I was making more money at my "respectable real job" than I did as a waitress working a 25-hour week --- and I've never enjoyed another job as much.
Her descriptions of the hellhole waitress jobs are vividly painted and absolutely hilarious (been there...), as are the portrayals of the restaurant guests. Ms. Ginsberg's breezy prose makes for a quick and engaging read, and if nothing else, serves to clue the restaurant patron in on how to behave (or perhaps, how not to misbehave) when dining out. Although the book is a "must-read" for anyone who's ever "waited," I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to take a peek at life on the other side of the order pad.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Fast-paced, & Enlightening, October 7, 2000
By 
"Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress" is a highly entertaining, fast-paced book about Debra Ginsberg's real-life experiences as a food server. She tells wonderful heartfelt stories about waiting tables in places ranging from a dining room/country club environment, to a cocktail lounge setting, to a upscale Italian eatery while keeping me laughing out loud and cringing simultaneously. I never thought that working as a waitress was an easy job (I've never actually done it) but after reading this book I can say for sure that it's definitely not a field I'll be tackling any time soon.
Ginsberg delves even deeper than just your run-of-the-mill waitressing antics (E.G.: hair in soup, rude customers, bad tips, etc.) She actually takes a look at waitressing from a sociological perspective and she does so with both intelligence and charm. For Ginsberg, waiting tables was a career, one which she struggled with because she constantly felt like she should "do something with her life" and "get a real job." So she did. But the money from waitressing was just too good. Her tips were essential in the raising of her son as a single parent. And waitressing also allowed her to spend quality time with her son when her "real job" kept them apart more than both of them were comfortable. I was proud of her for coming to that realization and going back to waitressing after giving the real job a shot.
Unfortunately, there is such a negative stigma attached to waiting tables while it really shouldn't be anything to be ashamed of. The physical and psychological aspects of the job are grueling and make for a tough job even in the best of conditions. I applaud anyone who can work like that at night and then manage to wake up, raise a child and stay focused on writing the next day. That sounds like three full-time jobs to me and I personally couldn't wing it. Three cheers for Debra! I eagerly await her next book.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fast read! (And a good one, too!), July 18, 2000
I heard a passage from Waiting on NPR's All Things Considered, and decided I had to have this book. I bought it on my way home, began reading it on the way out of the bookstore, became disgruntled if anything interrupted my reading, and finished the book by the next afternoon. It was good.
Most of us, as Ginsburg points out, have waited tables at one time or another, but even if you've never worked in a restaurant, you've probably held some sort of menial service job, and that's close enough. You know how demanding and particular people can be; how otherwise egalitarian folks turn into elitists when seated at a table; the impossible demands of the management and tensions/liaisons among the waitstaff. It's all in there.
Several times, in the middle of a chapter, I would shout an exalted "Yes! That's it!" to no one in particular. I read many passages aloud. Ginsburg's voice is a reliable and witty one, with a skilled dry humor that leaves an appropriate amount of verbiage to the imagination. She chronicles her 20-year waiting career; the various restaurants she's worked at, the managers, her co-workers and, of course, the customers. The book moves along chronologically, starting at Ginsburg's first restaurant job: waiting tables at a diner during her sixteenth summer. During that summer, she learns how to carry several plates at once, handle finicky customers, and she meets her first - fleeting -- love. This stint sets the tone for Ginsburg's further waiting endeavors.
At first, through Ginsburg's high school and college years, the book moves slowly, documenting each restaurant, extrapolating each detail. After her graduation, however, Ginsburg's jobs begin to flow and mesh together, with only a few notable customers, friends and restaurants showing through the fray. I believe this was intentional; not only does this make what might have been a mundane list of restaurants - "And next, I worked at Hoover's..." - interesting, but it also illustrates the blur Ginsburg's life became at that time, a muddle of shocking sameness and the mark of a life of waiting tables: a search for something better.
Still, some customers - or types of customers - always stick out, and Ginsburg's depictions of them are dead on.
It's so true; people turn into different creatures in a restaurant.
Ginsburg's account is well-written, and often brutally honest with personal details that are tied inextricably to her work as a waitress. She includes excellent chapters on tipping and the sexual tension (and acts) that a restaurant inspires among the staff. The only low point, if one can call it that, is a chapter on society's perceptions of waitresses, and, more specifically, a list of movies and television shows that feature and, often, typecast waitresses. The list - and the synopses - don't make for very interesting reading. But this is not important. The important thing is: read this book. It is hilarious, insightful, and well written. And, if you've ever worked in a restaurant, it will make you feel sooo vindicated.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite warm enough, June 24, 2002
By 
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress (Paperback)
WAITING: THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A WAITRESS is a selection of Debra Ginsberg's recollections and stories based on twenty year's worth of waiting tables. The results are fairly mixed. While the two decades have given her more than her fair share of horror stories and anecdotes, not all of the tales recounted here come across well. The style of the book is very off-putting, as many of the accounts could just as easily been compiled by somebody else. The lack of anything personal really hurts the book, which is quite odd when one considers how much space the author attempts to devote to her own life outside of the apron.
While the waitressing stories can oftentimes be quite funny, there is a curious lack of the personal touch among them. Strangely, I had to continually remind myself that these stories were not being told second-hand. The stories are not told about a friend of a friend, or nor are they manufactured, but are actually experiences from the author herself. Yet the viewpoint of the author makes them feel as though they happened to somebody else -- a somebody else who isn't particularly close to the author. The consequence of this is that the stories feel remote and cold. Rather than drawing us into her confidence, Ginsberg keeps us at arm's length. Even more telling is that the author seems trapped between wanting to share some of her personal life with the reader and not wanting to go into any significant detail. The result is that the memoir seems like neither one thing nor the other, with minor and random facts about herself and her family being thrown into the general whitewash of the rest of the story.
I did enjoy reading the first hundred or so pages. However, after a certain point, I realized that the book wasn't going to get any more introspective and that the faintly hollow feeling that I experienced from the beginning was going to be present throughout the entire book. For a three hundred page memoir, this is not something that is going to work well. Had the book been about half its current length, the lack of depth might not have been as significant a flaw, but to maintain reader interest for that entire length, we really need more interesting material to read about. The message of this book seems to be that waiters and waitresses are real people with real problems, and sometimes whether or not a customer's lasagna is the optimal temperature isn't the most important thing on his or her mind. This is indeed an important message, but hardly an Earth-shattering one. If you are among the few people on the planet who hasn't already realized this fairly simple fact, then not only should you educate yourself with this book, but you must go out immediately, track down every waiter you've ever been rude to, get down on your knees, and apologize profusely. Everyone else can continue to tip well, but can probably skip this book, as apparently they innately understand what Ginsberg goes to a lot of trouble to explain.
Now I don't want to be wholly negative in this review, as there were several anecdotes and stories that I found to be quite amusing. Yes, funny things can happen in restaurants and there are a number of entertaining stories to be read. Some of the accounts here, while occasionally repetitive, are sufficiently distracting enough to be enjoyable. Many of them will have you cringing at the amount of human stupidity displayed by numerous customers of restaurants all across America. A handful of Ginsberg's fellow co-workers occasionally stand out, and it's a pity that we never get to know more than a scattering of details about any of them. I get the impression that there were a lot of great stories concerning these people that we never really got the chance to read about.
Unfortunately, I can't say that WAITING is a fantastic memoir. If your reaction to the revelation of waiters and waitresses being actual (and overworked) human beings is to say, "Yeah, I knew that already," then this book will most likely be a rethread of what you understand to be true anyway. Maybe it's an inherent property of waitressing that most of the things one learns about people are done so within a short amount of time, leaving little room for deeper thoughts or meaningful reflections. But these short musings aren't enough to sustain the entire book. WAITING is only recommended if you genuinely have no idea that waiters are people.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We Don't All Spit In The Food!, June 4, 2003
This review is from: Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress (Paperback)
As a waitress, I found this story to be not only a true perspective of the business, but also an inspirational tale. The one thing I would have to say is that not every waitress will do something to your food before it gets to the table, regardless of how someone acts!
I liked this book because it reveals stories that I can relate to, such as cheap tippers and relationships in the restaurant, but it also examines the culture and icon of waitressing. Everyone should read this book, whether they work in the industry or not.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (T)his (I)s (P)erfect, July 20, 2000
What a wonderful book,for all who have ever had the good fortune to play the glamourous role of a food server.Funny,charming,and at times shocking(particularly Miss Ginsberg's description of Mother's Day in a restaurant)this is telepathic diamond for every waitress and waiter.Read this!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, July 15, 2000
I have worked in the restaurant industry for eleven years and have often penned my own stories of my experiences there, but Debra Ginsberg wrote the book I could only dream of. She does a remarkable job of describing the challenges of the job, the atmosphere behind the scenes of a restaurant and the physical demands of the job. Anyone who has spent time in the arena of foodservice will enjoy Debra's book, and I wish it were required reading for everyone who patronizes restaurants. My favorite aspect of this book is the way that Debra is able to address the public's rather simple perception of waitresses and compare that with a much more realistic portrait of the intelligent, independent women (and men) who are able to do well in the industry. This was an amazing book and I will be recommending it to many friends and members of my family who have not worked in restaurants, but have lived vicariously (and are much better tippers because of it) through my stories over the years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You've Even Been a Waitress...., February 25, 2001
...then you'll totally "get" this book! I love Ms. Ginsberg's upbeat attitude and the fact that she loves her job. She's so right that most people talk about waitresses like they're lower on the job chain than prostitutes when nothing could be further from the truth. As eating out seems to be a national past time, you'd think waitresses would be revered right up there with football heros! Just try to imagine life without them. I like the way she integrated statistics about the job and interwove threads of her life story into it; it was very interesting and enlightening. To those of you who gave bad reviews, this is not a novel, for heaven's sake, it's a memoir and a very well written one at that!
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Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress
Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress by Debra Ginsberg (Paperback - July 31, 2001)
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