A Career Q&A with Waiter Rant’s Waiter

We all like to complain about our jobs. The formerly anonymous Waiter is making a living at it.


Waiter, AKA Steve Dublancia, has had an interesting career trajectory. He started out studying for the priesthood, then switched to healthcare, then got a job waiting tables to pay the bills — a gig that lasted six-plus years and spawned his monster hit of a blog, Waiter Rant. He’s now chucked it all to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time writer. His book, Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, based on his tenure at “The Bistro,” has hit the New York Times bestseller list. And from a purely subjective standpoint, I can say it’s a fascinating read: well-written, funny, sometimes smutty but always eye-opening.


As a fan of both the blog and book, I was curious to talk to Dublancia about his career path. He’s a busy guy nowadays, so we did it over email. Here are my questions and his answers. Hopefully his success story will inspire you to step off the cliff of indecision and go after your own dream — whatever it may be.


Monster: You’ve gone from studying to be a Catholic priest to healthcare to waiting tables to writing full-time. What about each job made you move on to another? Was there a common thread?


Steve Dublancia: After shedding my cassock, I went into healthcare simply because I had a psychology degree. Over the years, I floated from job to job, moving up in responsibility until I was offered a marketing job I was totally unqualified to do — working for a company run by a bunch of dolts. (That they hired me is proof of their incompetence!) I took the job simply because it paid well, and that’s always a big mistake. You have to like what you do.


Eventually I got canned, was forced to take a job as a waiter to buy food, got fired from that place and got hired at The Bistro, where I waited tables for almost seven years. As my years working the floor piled up, my frustration with the customers mounted. So I started a blog to vent my anger, landed a book deal, my book ended up on the NYT bestseller list, and now I’m talking to you.


The common thread in all this? Beats me! I will say this, however. I wouldn’t have been able to start writing unless all the crazy stuff that happened in my life happened. Serendipity at work, I guess. I’ve never been a “gotta have a life plan” sort of guy. Now I enjoy what I do. Go figure.


M: In the book, you are clearly putting yourself out there for success or rejection. Fortunately, you’ve found success. What is your advice for someone who is looking to chase their true calling? For someone who wants more from their career than the job they are in?


SD: If you’re trying to chase your true calling, it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride. You have the excitement of climbing the heights, yes, but you’ll also have to deal with the sickening feeling in your gut as you race to the bottom. There will be good days and bad days, and you had better learn to take them in stride or you’ll go stark-raving mad, lose sight of your goal and end up in a place you’d rather not be. Just hang in there. Sometimes people are successful because they’re the last ones standing.


M: How has being a waiter made you a better person?


SD: Before I became a waiter, I was an ex-seminarian turned marketing rep yuppie idiot. I had no clue what real working-class folks endure to put bread on the table. After being a blue-collar stiff for nine years, now I know. I’m grateful for that education. If I had stayed the snobbish, uptight guy I was before waiting tables, I never would’ve started writing!


I also learned what it means to be successful — just trying to happy. Maybe your job doesn’t provide all the fulfillment the boob tube says you should have. That’s OK. Lots of people aren’t the sum total of their careers. If you can just cobble together a balance of family, relationships, work, interests and play that keeps you reasonably content — then you’re way ahead of the game. That’s what I learned waiting tables.


M: How did you overcome the obstacles to you finding your true calling (in the book, you talk about fear)? What was the impetus to finally go for it?


SD: Overcoming the obstacles in my life (an ongoing process that will never end) comes from a synthesis of: getting older, learning other people’s stories, listening to my elders, listening to people younger than me, psychotherapy, doing things that scare me, taking comfort in the familiar, being gentle with myself and knowing when to kick myself in the butt. Sometimes I get it right.


The impetus that made me finally go for it? I was sick and tired of where my life was going, and I wanted a change. When you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, then you’re usually ready to make a move. And, to my surprise, I must’ve unconsciously lined up all my ducks in a row because, voila, it worked! 


OK, enough with the Tony Robbins nonsense. Fear sucks. Writing a book can be scary. It’s the reason most people don’t write them or do things to change their lives. They’re afraid of rejection and ridicule. What they’re really afraid of is the unknown. Trust me, the unknown usually isn’t the monster we make it out to be. Grin and bear it. It can be tough at first — but eventually it gets easier.