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 was another thing the Paris waiters went out on strike about besides the Anti-Pourboire newspaper. It appears that they all go to employment offices when they are out of work and have to pay to register and pay for a job when they get it. They found out that hundreds of small employers, stewards and headwaiters were going shares in these fees, and would discharge their waiters frequently without cause, only to make a profit out of the fees the new waiters would have to pay to get the jobs. They struck against working in any of these houses or letting others go in. When that trouble was settled they formed waiters' associations, where employers could apply when they wanted help, and paid no more fees to employment agents. While they were out on strike indeed they made the abolition of the employment offices one of their demands, and, like the New York waiters, they wanted the establishment of regular wages for waiters, and not have to depend on what they could "pick up." They complained that besides not being paid any wages they were only allowed to keep one-third of the tips given them, the proprietor getting one-third direct and another third was taken from them to pay breakages; no matter who did the breaking the tip money had to pay for it This system is too deep rooted, however, and the waiters did not succeed in breaking it up.
It began long time ago in the palmy days of the Palais Royal gardens when the crush was so great that waiters made perfect fortunes, and in consequence the proprietors, turning this to advantage, sold the waiters jobs at from $400 to $1,000 per year, and still the waiters realized splendid competencies. But that time is past Such times occur at some of our pleasure resorts, when the waiters find greenbacks plenty for a short time, but it only lasts a few weeks.
"The discipline of the waiters at the Cafe de la Paix is very strict. Every waiter has to be at roll-call at 7.30 a. m. under pain of 10d. fine for every five minutes he is late. Boots may not be worn by any waiter in the establishment. It is forbidden under pain of dismissal or a heavy fine to give change to a customer in instalments. The malire d'hotel has the right to satisfy himself by calling at the residence af a waiter who may claim dispensation on the plea of sickness, whether the man is really ill or not Each waiter has to pay $1.00 on every $20 worth of drinks he takes, as a percentage on the four-boires. Waiters have a holiday,jour de sortie, every fortnight. The tables are alotted according to their business value in order of their seniority. Every new waiter, or any waiter returning to work at this cafe after absence has to begin at the bottom and gets the worst tables. These are some of the regulations at this cafe\ and that they are good, if strict, is proved by the admirable discipline that obtains there".
" It is a remarkable characteristic of the waiters in Paris restaurants that no matter what anyone asks for, even if it should be "a fried piece of the moon," those gentleman-like attendants will invariably reply 'Yes,' and either bring it or, on returning, assert with sorrow 'that unfortunately there is no more left.' A well-known Government official tried this joke recently, when he ordered the waiter to bring him 'a sphinx a la Marengo? 'But I grieve to say we have no more, monsieur,' replied the waiter. 'What no more sphinx?' exclaimed the Minister of the Interior, feigning astonishment. The waiter lowered his voice, and murmured in a confidenital whisper: 'We have some more, monsieur, but the truth is I should not care to give them to you, as they are not quite fresh.'"
"Dr. X. breakfasts every morning at a New York restaurant. One day he observed the waiter limping about painfully.
"Have you got lumbago?' he asked sympathetically, 'or rheumatism?'
"I don't know, sir, but I'll just step into the kitchen and see. I don't think there's a scrap left of either".