While there are plenty of restaurant servers who are in it for life (like our very own Salty Waitress), there are plenty more who are passing through on their way to somewhere or something else. But Noah Manskar has decided to reverse that trend: last week he quit his job as a reporter for the New York Post to work as a server at two restaurants in Brooklyn. He did not let the moment pass, however, without writing an essay about it on his personal blog, a surprisingly touching tribute to restaurant work.
Journalism, he explained, had begun to feel less about connecting with people and telling stories than about numbers and metrics and audience engagement.
[Serving] was the only job, I realized, that I’d ever actually enjoyed or even looked forward to doing. There was something quietly beautiful about watching people make dozens, if not hundreds, of connections with each other and with the food and drink on their tables over the course of an evening. They emerged in snippets of overheard conversation, full-mouthed groans of satisfaction, and gestures for another glass of wine. And there was something fulfilling in knowing that I played a part in creating space for those connections.... I generally leave work with my mood lifted, feeling like I accomplished something, rather than feeling like I would never accomplish enough.
Manskar isn’t walking away from journalism altogether; he plans to freelance in his spare time, and he hopes that in a more limited capacity, he’ll be able to recapture the joy that brought him to journalism in the first place. (Also, he didn’t mention it, but tip money is probably better than many journalism salaries. And walking across dining rooms is a form of exercise.)
I haven’t been to a full-service restaurant in more than a year now, but, aside from the food (I dream of a juicy cheeseburger fresh off the grill and a basket of crispy fries; these things do not travel well), I most miss the feeling of being cared for, of someone coming by to top off my coffee and unexpected small acts of kindness, like the waiter I saw at a Denny’s once who apologized to me for not being attentive (he wasn’t) because he needed to take care of a traveler who was far from home and lonesome.
Anyway, Noah Manskar, I wish you all the best in your new career, and I hope it continues to make you happy.