Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress” as Want to Read:
Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,143 Ratings  ·  242 Reviews
A veteran waitress dishes up a spicy and robust account of life as it really exists behind kitchen doors.

Part memoir, part social commentary, part guide to how to behave when dining out, Debra Ginsberg's book takes readers on her twentyyear journey as a waitress at a soap-operatic Italian restaurant, an exclusive five-star dining club, the dingiest of diners, and more. Whi
...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published July 31st 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Waiting, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Waiting

All Creatures Great and Small by James HerriotNickel and Dimed by Barbara EhrenreichKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainWorking by Studs TerkelAll Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
A Day in the Life: Work Memoirs
11th out of 508 books — 298 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
111th out of 751 books — 1,404 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Iamshadow
Aug 15, 2008 Iamshadow rated it it was amazing
Simply, utterly, brilliant.

Anyone who's worked in any kind of customer service industry will read this book and nod your head along with it. Anyone who's been a customer will read it and come away with an appreciation for what people in the customer service industry do.

Ginsberg is not only an excellent writer with clever, dry wit, but she's got some genuinely funny stories to tell. She paints the pictures of her colleagues and places of employment vividly, until you feel utterly immersed in her
...more
Brenda
May 09, 2010 Brenda rated it it was ok
This wasn't nearly as fun as I had hoped. While funny at times to anyone who has waited tables, this memoir read more as a justification of an aging Reedie as to why, despite her quasi-Ivy League Liberal Arts education, she as yet to do anything worthwhile with her life. Rather than amusing antedotes, we are treated to sophmoronic attempts to intellectualize a profession in which on is paid to set a plate on a table. She fails to bring any commonality of the human experiece her memoir and, in fa ...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
Feb 01, 2013 Judi/Judith Riddle rated it really liked it
While getting her BA in English, Debra Ginsberg supported herself as a waitress. She gives a glimpse into the the viewpoint of the server and what goes on in the kitchen. Sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, it is definitely a memoir to be read for most all of us have been on the serving side and/or the dining side of the restaurant business. Ginsberg, while supporting her son as a single mom as a waitress in everything from diners to the upscale side of the dining experience, went on to becom ...more
Pinki
Jan 18, 2008 Pinki rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone should read this
This book came at a point in my life when I wanted to justify what I did for a living. I never really enjoyed waiting tables and don't I think the author does either but she made vaild points about the business.
It is grueling work, practically running all day on your feet, the organizational skills required, the psychology of every customer (and their personality profile), and how ultimately no one is ever just a waitress or a cook, or a manager owner, everyone gets into the business for some r
...more
David
Feb 15, 2008 David rated it really liked it
My true philistinism is revealed when I am forced to admit that I enjoyed this book far more than the high-culture book of the same name, by Ha Jin. This book was a lively and entertaining read - Ha Jin's "Waiting" seemed to me to be a fairly dull book, about relatively pedestrian characters, which owed much of its success to the perceived 'exoticism' (and trendiness, at the time of its publication) of its setting. A book which was anointed as being important and worthy of attention, but which I ...more
Edwina Hall Callan
May 11, 2016 Edwina Hall Callan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2016
Memoir of a waitress ... incredibly boring.
I thought I would laugh my way though this book, reading tales of crazy customers,
instead it was a yawner that took me forever to read.
Joe
Apr 16, 2015 Joe rated it liked it
Waiting is the memoir of a long-time waitress, part tell-all of the unseen side of restaurants (from simple up to fancy), part personal memoir. If you like getting perspectives of the unknown, hidden side of everyday professions, it's worth reading.

The book starts off in Ginsberg's youth, telling of her early family situation and how she first got into waiting. As the story progresses, the author tells the parallel tales of a series of restaurants she worked at, and her growing through relations
...more
Ensiform
Dec 21, 2011 Ensiform rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food, jobs
The author, a Reed grad who’s been waiting tables for 20 years (“and I’m still waiting,” she adds), describes the life of a waitress in general, the trials and tribulations of wait staff at various restaurants, and the public perception of waitresses. It’s also a memoir of her own life, which is of course less interesting.

Ginsberg has a good eye for the amusing story, and she relates her customers’ foibles as wryly as she exposes what can happen behind the scenes of every dining establishment (a
...more
Stephen Parrish
WAITING is more than the chronicle some other reviewers make it out to be; more than a mere narrative of twenty years spent waiting tables. It's a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the restaurant business, from the perspective of the floor, of the people who come into direct contact with restaurant patrons.

In keeping with the backdrop, it does contain anecdotes about the business, insights into the personalities who bring food to the table, and even tips on how to be a better cust
...more
Kimberly Laura Malone
Feb 22, 2010 Kimberly Laura Malone rated it it was ok
Shelves: tmr
Very quick, easy read. Less than a day in fact... Having been in the food industry as both an employee and an owner for most of my life. And having been a server of some sort or another for 20 years, like the author of this book, I was interested to see what more I could learn.

While I very much enjoyed the walk down my own memory lane through the stories contained in Ms. Ginsberg's memoir, I was not very impressed by the lack of a moral to the story. As a hero's journey this was an incomplete.

Si
...more
Matt
Nov 16, 2011 Matt rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to read about inside info. and details about waitressing. I was hoping to get a behind the scenes understanding of waitressing life. The book is sort of autobiographical as it relates to the author's work life in the food service industry.

The problem is simply that it's just not that interesting. I didn’t feel like I really learned anything new or helpful as it relates to my personal experiences in restaurants. I kept expecting to learn some exciting
...more
Stella Dinielli
Nov 14, 2011 Stella Dinielli rated it really liked it
Debra Ginsberg’s “Waiting- True Confessions of a Waitress” is a memoir about the life she made for herself out of waiting tables for over 20 years. As a teenager, serving tables was simply a way to gain independence from her parents, then as she got older, merely a way to put herself through college, and finally, as a way to make ends meet as a single mother.Debra Ginsberg inspired me and taught me that instead of cowering from the ugly, nasty and unfortunate, to face it, embrace it and write ab ...more
Diane
Sep 09, 2015 Diane rated it liked it
This book has been on my shelf forever. I'm glad I finally got around to it. This was a fun read...a memoir by a waitress "lifer" (a woman who has been waitressing well past her college years). Ginsberg is a skilled writer and her stories are alternately amusing and frightening. Anyone who spent time as a server will relate to the lecherous customers, the soap opera romances and the unpredictable hierarchy of the restaurant staff. Ginsberg was a single mother and her stories of survival are both ...more
melissa
Mar 15, 2007 melissa rated it liked it
Anyone who has waited tables knows how your life can be enveloped by the restaurant. Long days and nights spent turning tables, coworkers who become like family, the soap operas that play around you with a live cast, the late night drinks and parties and the tips that make or break you. Ginsberg's book is a little more autobiographical than I cared for, though. I would suggest this to anyone waiting for the first time - most of the scenarios you're likely to run in to are in here. And Ginsberg i ...more
Nikbutterfly
Sep 22, 2009 Nikbutterfly rated it really liked it
I have never waited tables, but am quite the foodie, so love eating in restaurants and always wondered what goes on behind the scenes! This book is part expose, part memoir of a woman who has worked in tons of different restaurants over 20 years. Really liked it, and loved her tips on how NOT to be an a-hole as a restaurant patron and get spit free food!
Jen Thorpe
Jan 24, 2015 Jen Thorpe rated it liked it
"Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress" is a memoir that Debra Ginsberg wrote about her experiences as a waitress. She gives you an insider's view about what really goes on behind the scenes in restaurants. One cannot read this book without realizing how demanding and difficult the job of being a waitress truly is. Read this, and you will be more willing to tip your servers. Ginsberg also offers plenty of stories about bizarrely behaved customers, the differences between the various restau ...more
With Butterflies
Not everyone's life is interesting enough for a book, in my humble opinion.

Maybe I was expecting more juicy stories about customers and restaurants, but it's really just about her life which is pretty ordinary.
Erica Stephens
Jul 20, 2015 Erica Stephens rated it liked it
I thought this book would be funny. I thought I would shake my head laughing with that knowing grin saying to myself, yes, yes I've been there! In fact I could relate to some things and I thought it nice to know that some restaurant knowledge and lingo is universal but it was not funny. And in fact I was kind of horrified at some of the behind the scene restaurant activities the author describes. Are restaurants on the West Coast much different from those on the East Coast? Or perhaps it's the s ...more
HeavyReader
Nov 13, 2015 HeavyReader rated it liked it
I didn't like this book nearly as much as I thought I would, and I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt by giving it three stars.

I thought this book would be funny (maybe because other "true confessions" of folks working in food service have been funny), but this book really wasn't.

Ginsberg includes a lot of information about her personal life outside the restaurants where she worked, which I don't think was relevant in a book which was supposed to be about her job as waitress.

I also found it an
...more
Ellen
Originally posted on The Canon! {http://canireadeverything.blogspot.co...}

As a worker bee in the food/hospitality industry, I love to read memoirs about the business. When I was researching my review on a previous food book, I found so many good reviews online for Debra Ginsberg's Waiting that I couldn't stand it: I had to read it.

Unfortunately, I fell victim to the GoodReads recommendation; I did not like Ginsberg's Waiting. The writing was flawless, but occasionally leaning towards boring as
...more
Laura
Jun 01, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2011
It took me a while to get through this book. I'm not sure whether it was Ginsberg's writing style or lack of interest on my part. It felt like I was reading a bunch of short stories about serving, which was interesting, yet I felt was perhaps lacking something. I am an ex-server, so i did relate to a lot of her experiences, some of which made me nostalgic about waiting tables, and others reminded me of why I vowed to never work in the food industry again. It felt like the story lacked any reason ...more
Anna
Oct 29, 2013 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2013
Quite a bit has changed since this book was written and published about a decade ago. Wait, let me rephrase that: a lot of things haven't probably changed, but the perspective for the book would have changed. The whole celebrity chef phenomenon has sprouted and grown since this book was published. And while it's not celebrity waitresses or waiters, it would surely have added a bit more drama and spice to a more recent edition. Are all the celebrity chefs as horrible to work with as the rumors ha ...more
Jessica
Mar 30, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Debra was a server for most of her life, working in everything from a family-run pizza place to a five-star dining club. She experiences extreme highs (good money, great tips, dating a Chef, the trill of working a perfect shift) and lows (a shift where everything goes wrong, restaurants that just can't get traffic, and, above all,being treated as absolute dirt by your customers). If you ever waited tables or wanted to do so, this is the book for you.

Rat
...more
Charles
Oct 22, 2013 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My parents always told me that everyone ought to work as a waitress or waiter at some point, because it would allow for them to recognize how tough the work really is. Well, I've never waited, but I'm glad I at least was able to read this book, because it was a serious eye opener, along with being very well written.

The author has a very keen way of blending a chronological story of her life with various concepts and themes concerning waiting that tells a story while simultaneously exploring an a
...more
Sheela
Nov 13, 2009 Sheela rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
This memoir about life as a waitress was not as exciting as I would have imagined. I'm not sure why Debra Ginsberg's story warranted a memoir as her life is pretty ordinary. Maybe I'm not the right audience for this type of book, seeing that I've never waitressed before, but a good memoir should make people feel like they are part of the narrative, keeping readers involved and interested. Also, there was something off about her writing - she's not a bad writer, but her writing almost reads like ...more
Susana Olague Trapani
Aug 04, 2013 Susana Olague Trapani rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Review written in September 2010

This book is, as you might've guessed it, a memoir of Ginsberg's time as a waitress (a span of 20 years). She takes us through the ups and downs of living as a waitress, and offers something of a social commentary on how the public views waiters and waitresses (waitrons?). While the memoir doesn't reveal anything that a decent, feeling human being couldn't have guessed already, Ginsberg's voice is one that I've come to enjoy and admire. Her stories, ranging from t
...more
REbecca Darling
May 31, 2011 REbecca Darling is currently reading it
So far, this is a really good book! This is one of those that I picked up off my bookshelf and thought, why not? It's like her memoirs, and a lot of stories and the truth about waitressing and whatnot. Each chapter seems to be like a different time in her life, and just general knowledge thrown in there. She talks about how waiters/waitresses can tell what kind of customers people will be just by their appearance and where they're from. She noted that New Yorkers are good tippers (Stored that aw ...more
Tina
Oct 06, 2012 Tina rated it liked it
Recommends it for: if you like behind the scenes in the food industry
Shelves: memoirs
WAITING: The True Confessions of a Waitress by Debra Ginsberg is a fun read. If you enjoyed books such as Waiter Rant and Kitchen Confidential, this is in a similar style. It’s a memoir, it has good stories and graphic portrayals of customers and wait staff at their very worst. Interpersonal relationships are examined and you will find (to some folk’s horror) the things which happen in the kitchen behind the scenes are really, really things you hope are products of her creative license.

It’s funn
...more
Artie
Apr 04, 2009 Artie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who's ever eaten at a restaurant.
This sounded like it had potential to be very interesting when I found it at a library book sale. Maybe 1/8 of the way in, I'm beginning to lose steam. Hopefully she's got better insight going forward and not just well documented instances of server-customer interaction.

Update: 03/23/2009
Ok this book is picking up as the author explores her first experience in a fine dining restaurant and its subtleties both in terms of service and staff politics. I think I chose this book because I like hearing
...more
Kristen
Feb 28, 2008 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who eats out
When I originally read this book, I was waiting tables and starting to think I'd be a lifer. I loved how Ginsberg was able to describe the thin line between loving the rush and the experience for the sake of a story, and feeling like a second-class citizen coated in mayonnaise.
Now that I have a "real job," and am re-reading the book, I am less effected by her stories. But I still appreciate how she tells just enough to make them interesting without sliding completely into gossippy trash. She has
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat
  • Retail Hell
  • Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter
  • Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
  • Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante
  • Behind Bars: The Straight-Up Tales of a Big-City Bartender
  • Under the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School
  • Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen
  • Among the Heroes
  • Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library
  • The Best American Crime Writing 2005
  • The Customer is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles
  • Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation
  • Quiet, Please: Dispatches From A Public Librarian
  • I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise
  • Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir
  • My Own Medicine: A Doctor's Life as a Patient
27399
Debra M. Ginsberg is a London born, American author. She is the author of three memoirs as well as two novels. Her first memoir Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress was published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2000, followed by Raising Blaze: A Mother and Son's Long, Strange Journey Into Autism, which chronicled her longtime struggle to get her son the education he was entitled to.

Find Debr
...more
More about Debra Ginsberg...

Share This Book



“Hey, stronzo, che cazzo fai?" Mario demands.” 1 likes
“Belinda was able to carry the most complicated orders for six or seven tables in her head without ever forgetting an item. She also knew instinctively what her customers would order before they did. Her predictions became something of a parlor trick for a while, in fact. Beyond such obvious attributes, however, Belinda was able to morph both her personality and her looks to suit whoever she was waiting on. For example, I'd watch her waiting on a group of young women and she'd appear reserved and fresh faced. Her conversation with them would be friendly but impersonal, never threatening. For couples, she'd become sophisticated, knowledgeable, and attractive. When waiting on men, she became girlishly flirtatious and subtly sexy. Were it not for her obvious sincerity at the table, Belinda would have merely been a good actress. But I don't believe that Belinda herself was aware of her transformations, and that detachment was part of the reason she made more money and received more compliments on her service than any of her coworkers.” 0 likes
More quotes…