This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Another trouble common to all waiters is to be learned from this, making a little allowance for the exaggeration of the sums named:
" One of the best waiters in a wellknown down-town restaurant attended to the wants of a reporter on Thursday with a discouraged air. He spoke slightingly of the beef, and feelingly remarked that he couldn't recommend anything except the salads. A choleric gentleman sat near the reporter, and the latter was astonished to hear the waiter advise him to try roast beef. In the restful pause that always waits upon the coffee the waiter was invited to explain his seeming inconsistency.
'I had a row with the chef this morning,' he said, 'and I know that all the poor cuts are in store for me during the rest of the day. I wouldn't bring you something that wasn't good, you know'.
'But you advised the red-headed gentleman to try beef'.
'The red-headed gentleman is opposed to tips, and so I haven't any special interest in his stomach. A waiter's life is not a happy one, and sometimes it is rendered miserable by little bickerings among the employes in the kitchen. Our wages are only $3o a month and meals. If we are on friendly terms with the headwaiter he leads all the generous patrons to our tables, and if we are not it is a mere stroke of good fortune if we get a tip. Some of the waiters make from $2 to $4 a day besides their wages, while others don't make a dollar extra'.
'What does the headwaiter earn?' 'Oh, he frequently makes $200 a month. His wages are $50 a month, and the waiters are obliged to give him a percentage of all the tips they receive. There are about thirty waiters employed here, and it is a poor day when $5 isn't turned over to him by the waiters at night. I have known him to receive $10 at the close of a day. He has little influence over the kitchen, and in a case like the present, where a waiter is on bad terms with the people in the kitchen, he is apt to lose some of his best customers because he cannot get good meat for them. Some of the waiters pro-pitate the chef by treating him frequently, but this is expensive, and few of us can afford it. It is to our advantage of course to lose the customers who do not tip us, and I could spare the red-headed gentleman without a pang.'"
Another trouble which all experience is the neglect of proprietors and stewards in many places to provide bath-rooms, washrooms, dressing-rooms and lockers for the waiters. The greatest possible stress everywhere is laid upon the necessity of waiters being clean in person and clothing, but frequently there'are no conveniences whatever for washing and bathing and no places to leave a jacket or clean apron when it is not in use without risk of its being stolen.
The best of modern hotels have help's quarters fitted with plain but ample toilet accommodations and these leave the wait ers no excuse for being untidy.