This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
It is often remarked that waiters must above all things have good memories. The possession of a good memory itself, however, does not account for all the feats of a good waiter who carries in five or six persons' orders, composing between two and three dozen differe' t dishes differently cooked, and does not make a mistake in one, though the obtaining of all may have taken him half an hour. There are plenty of men who can do everything else about a hotel, however seemingly difficult, who cannot take orders and remember them as far as the kitchen to save their lives. A good waiter was asked one day how he managed to charge his memory that way in spite of all the rush and noise in the kitchen. Said he: " I remember the order by repeating it over until I get my dishes; if it is six beefsteaks and two of them rare cooked, I get six steak dishes out of the hot closet and putting two at the bottom I say to myself, those two are for rare, the four on top are well done. I get four deep dishes for fish in cream, and so on, and once 1 get the dishes right I never can forget what they are there for.
What breaks up the best of us is to come out and find all the dishes dirty and no spoons or knives to be had, and while we are hunting around we forget half our orders and have to guess at them".