This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
There is something uncanny about these mature children of the town. I was at the Windsor Hotel at dinner with some friends a short time ago when a pompous little woman strode down the long dining room followed by two little girls, hand in hand. Neither of them was more than 9 years old. They settled themselves in their chairs, folded their skinny little hands, and then proceeded to stare about them and comment upon their fellow-diners. The elder of the two children, after looking intently at a maiden lady of rather noticeable attire at an adjoining table, turned to her mother and said composedly:
"What a really startling old frump that 16, mamma?"
"Which one, dear?" asked the strict disciplinarian of a mother.
"That cheerful guy beside the bald-headed man over there".
" Oh, yes," said the mother, with a well-bred smile, " I've seen her before. But don't be so slangy, Marion. Have more tone. Order your dinner now and see that you let purde and lamb alone. It's too rich for you." Then to the waiter: "Take her order, Auguste".
The waiter leaned obsequiosly over the child, who was studying the menu with a frown on her little face.
"Ver' sorry, Mees Maryon, but there is no arti------"
"There, I thought so," said the girl, slamming the card down on the table and biting her thin lips. " It's the most provoking thing! Whenever I set my heart _______"
" We have some green corn------"
" Eat it yourself !" said the child in a huff.
The waiter was quite unmoved. He seemed to be accustomed to such ebullitions of temper and went on suavely taking the orders of the others, while Miss Marion sat the picture of overdressed, pampered and pouting discontent.
Now, whoever wrote that piece for the newspaper was thinking about the poor little children, wanting to train them for their mother, but we will just take notice of "Ogeest." He has got as good a thing as he wants for one table and never gives a second thought to the behavior of anybody. He will get what that family wants if he has to beg for it in the kitchen, coax for it, buy it, steal it; and every Sunday or Monday morning he finds "Mees Mar-yon's" little hand held out to him with a five dollar bill, probably, or two or three silver dollars, at least, and when the family goes away there will be a parting fee of larger amount. If "Ogeest" is fortunate enough to have four such parties to wait on and get his American plan wages besides, he is certainly doing very well. And he doesn't care whether the children are well-trained or not. But some young men are so constituted that they cannot take such "sass" without resenting it in some way. Perhaps they have not been raised right. Anyway they are not adapted to be waiters.
Contrast the fat condition of the waiters thus far mentioned with those of the Edinburgh, Scotland, International Exhibition, a couple of years ago. The waiters engaged to pay the resfreshment contractor ten shillings ($2.50) a week each for the privilege of working for him without wages, and then he printed in his bill of fare that the prices there set down included attendance, which meant nothing for the waiters. Here it is as it appeared in a newspaper, but without the long bill of fare, which is unnecessary:
The head-waiter at one of the Edinburgh hotels sends us a rather indignant protest against the terms on which his brethren are engaged at the Exhibition now open in the Modern Athens. He points out that the conditions under which the waiters work leave them but one alternative if they are to make a living at all, and that is to overcharge the public. The refreshment contractor, it appears, receives a weekly payment from each waiter, and yet makes attendance an inclusive charge in his catering tariff. Unless liberally tipped they are likely to be losers, and their chances of pocketing fees are to a great extent extinguished by the intimation that attendance is included in the bill. Scotchmen, who of course constitute the great majority of visitors to the Exhibition, will probably find this intimation very comforting, and will scarcely see the force of paying twice for services rendered. We subjoin the form of agreement subscribed to by the waiters: [Copy].
"I,........, hereby engage myself as waiter to you at the International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art, Edinburgh, 1886, and to pay to you, for the privilege of serving you, ten shillings per week, at the end of each week. I will receive my food at the Exhibition on every lawful day, when open, but I will provide and pay for my own lodgings, and for my food on Sundays. I will make good any breakages in my department, also any cutlery or plate that may be lost or damaged, and will be entitled in my own name to recover from customers any breakages which they may be responsible for. All sums recovered for breakages shall be specially set apart in a box to be provided therefore, and paid over to you when required. I will be liable to dismissal on a moment's notice, without reason assigned or compensation given, and I will be entitled to leave on a days notice, having first accounted to you for breakages and any moneys that may be due by me. - Witness my hand this .... day of.........".
That is the condition of affairs which the New York waiters banded together to keep out of this country; but the Parisian waiters fought to uphold it, for the simple reason that there was no hope for them to get wages, and if the tips which they depend on were abolished they would starve. So we will say again, the best waiters for this country are those who have the least of the old-country tip system in them.