This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Waiters who have to work under such disadvantageous conditions as those the Paris waiters struck about are driven to all sorts of schemes to get even. This is one way, as a correspondent tells it:
"It is notorious to all habitue's of this dancing-salon, and in the Quartier Latin generally, that the waiters invariably either overcharge, or else return deficient change. I speak from experience, as I generally do. I have been overcharged or have had deficient change given me, no less than fifteen times. Sometimes the sum wanting has been a franc, sometimes more, sometimes less; but I have never once been served at the Bal Bullier without having to point out some mistake when my change was handed me. And as, on purpose to convince myself, I have tried every waiter in the place, and found them all alike, I can come to no other conclusion than that these mistakes are a system. One waiter confessed as much, saying the times were hard, that he had to work all night, and would earn next to nothing ligitimately, etc".
Another one says:
"One of the tricks of the waiters in the Parisian resaurants, is in bringing change, to cover over either a gold or silver piece with the copper money. As the customer usually waves away the grosser bullion with a contemptuous gesture, the waiter gets the hidden coin into the bargain. Another trick is to cover over a gold coin with the bill, on the chance that the customer will not lift up the slip of paper".
But if we begin to look up the tricks of waiters we shall find as many on this side the ocean as the other:
" 'If I should discover a system to prevent waiters from robbing guests,' said Paul Bauer recently, 'I would pay well for the information. Proprietors of large summer resorts are all anxious to solve this perplexing problem especially those who pay small salaries'.
"When guests order two or more portions they are seldom served their full order although they pay for it. The writer suggests that Mr. Bauer and others interested auction off their present stock of crockery and order a series of special dishes to be known as Protective Crockery. On platters and vegetable dishes intended for single portions stamp or paint 'one portion' on the sides or rim of the dishes before they are glazed.
"For two or more portions the same system may be followed, but, of course, on platters a size larger. If the notice was on the center of the dish the food would hide it, and it would not be seen until it was too late to correct a mistake.
"Dishonest waiters would, of course, attempt to beat the system by hiding double portion dishes in convenient places. They would also try to bribe the dish washers and others handling the plates. Very bold waiters might attempt to use a dish taken from the dish baskets, but a little watchfulness would easily foil them. These dishes as soon as washed, might be placed under the care of the chefs. They would see that the right portions were placed on the proper dishes, and the check clerks would easily prevent cooks and waiters from standing in with each other.
"City hotels using the half portion system might protect their patrons by adopting this system".