Queen of Klutz by Samantha Garman is Book One of a “Sibby Series.” Not a novel to provoke deep and serious thought, it is a pleasant, humorous, witty look at one woman’s attempt to make lemonade with the abundance of lemons showering her life. The “Klutz” of the title refers to the idea that if anything can go wrong in one person’s life, it will go wrong for Sibby. From what looks happenstance and accidental such as dropping a pen only to trip and fall a few minutes later in a public display of embarrassment, to the more awkward meeting Sibby had with her boyfriend when she stumbled upon him in bed with another man, everything that can possibly go wrong happens to Sibby.
Sibby is not a lazy person. She worked hard to get a useless degree in theater that qualified her to land a job editing textbooks. She didn’t like her job, but it produced the necessary income to pay the rent on her rent-controlled New York apartment with enough left over to buy the necessities of life, food and alcohol. Along with friend Annie, a former university classmate, Sibby spends a lot of her mental energy seeking ways not to have a boring, sedentary life, the kind of life exemplified by her parents. In one day, her life changed dramatically when she was fired from her job, Sibby claimed it was just a “lay off,” and she returned home unexpectedly early to find her fiancé in bed with his good friend. With no job, no boyfriend, and no prospects for a worthwhile life, it was time to call Annie for a deep consultation fueled by Tequila shots about what comes next.
Luckily Sibby caught Annie at a time when Annie was not engaged with one of her lovers du jour. During a lengthy session in a bar while the two approached alcoholic oblivion, a helpful and impossibly hot fellow patron, Aidan, volunteered to teach Sibby some of the finer techniques involved in playing pool. When friend Annie became seriously engaged in a make-out session with Aidan’s friend Caleb, Aidan courteously offered to take Sibby home. Out of consideration for Sibby’s welfare, Aidan offered to stay over at Sibby’s place. Everything was platonic, of course.
Avoiding the need to earn income could only go on so long, a couple of days, and Sibby quickly acknowledged that she was qualified to do nothing. When Annie mentioned that she knew of an opening at an Italian restaurant for a waiter, Sibby agreed to give it a try. Her experience during university serving barbeque at a fast food place might not have qualified her for the job, but if she could get through the training program, she would be financially self-sufficient. The setting for the novel has been set. Sibby will have many adventures as she becomes more involved with her new job in the customer service industry. The restaurant setting provides a character study as Sibby interacts with workers and customers of various backgrounds.
Jesse is the no-nonsense manager of Antonio’s, a restaurant where logic has no place in operations. Zeb is her immediate floor manager, openly and proudly gay, but not a rival for Sibby’s immediate interest, Aidan. A professional student, Zeb will guide Sibby through the byzantine labyrinth of relationship building necessary to survive in the high-pressure environment of an upper-class posh restaurant. In a remarkable instance of serendipity, Aidan shows up as the assistant manager of the restaurant, second only to Jesse. Sibby must learn new skills in managing customers during rush hours as well as restaurant operations. She must also earn acceptance from fellow employees. Memorizing details of the three hundred items on the menu will occupy much of her time. Julian is the head chef with a terrible temper, one demonstrated by the hurling of cutlery items. Katerina is a fellow waiter who might be an undocumented Russia and might be friendly after three months. Katerina’s policy is not to speak to a new employee for the first three months of their employment. Natalie is half Asian and is very interested in Aidan but Sibby is not jealous. Her relationship with Aidan is strictly platonic.
During her off time, Sibby meets frequently with Annie and the two contemplate their evolving lifestyles. Annie, who never meets any of her lovers a second time, has possibly fallen for Caleb, Aidan’s close friend. Matt, the former fiancé of Sibby, has become her stalker, the reason for this is not clear. Sibby deals with very demanding and frequently weird customer requests as a parade of people attempt to define their identity by establishing their superiority to her.
This is an amusing take on life in customer service. Readers might be amazed that the personality types Sibby encounters as customers exist. Or readers might be one of those types. As an amusing light read, I rated this at four Amazon stars for the amusing notes on Italian food and wine at the beginning of each chapter. Priced at USD 3.99, it is available as a free read with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.