For tea by code – Vedomosti

Citizen waiter

The dignifiedly dressed audience – mostly men in suits, white shirts and hats – stands with banners. “Down with tea handouts”, “We will force respect for the person in office”,
“Officers are citizens”, – printed in white letters on red cloth.
In 1917, demonstrations, rallies and strikes took place throughout Russia. Among others, employees of the tavern industry were on strike. Their main demand was the abolition of tips, as they “demean the dignity of the citizen.” Somerset Maugham, a witness to those events, noted in his notebook: “With the revolution, the tip-off movement began. The lackeys in restaurants, bell-mens in hotels, instead of tips, demanded a certain percentage of the bill. They thought that tips humiliate their human dignity. Out of habit, they continued to tip them, but they invariably refused them. “
The largest action took place in Petrograd: dozens of establishments were closed, about 20,000 people did not come to work. At a similar rally in Moscow, waiters who took a tip in the Hermitage garden were “brought to justice.” In Sevastopol, strikers achieved replacement of tip with deduction
15% of turnover. However, the gains of the “tip revolution” did not last long: as early as 1919, Irkutsk announced the transfer of waiters from percentage deductions back to tips.
In the Russian Empire, service workers lived off tips – they did not receive a regular salary from the owner of the establishment. It is possible to assess the degree of “humiliation of human dignity” by the figures cited in 1914 by the Moscow newspaper “Early Morning”. She reported that in mid-January the flow of deposits to the main Moscow savings bank increased 5-6 times. “A waiter from a restaurant, a doorman of a Moscow skyscraper, a janitor who worked well on holidays, a reckless driver” brought holiday and New Year tips to the savings bank. Each contribution was at least 75–150 rubles. For comparison: the wages of workers, depending on the sector of employment, at that time fluctuated between 192-402 rubles. in year.
The tradition of tipping developed in the Russian Empire by the end of the 18th century. True, at that time they did not ask for “tea”, but for “vodka”, which was natural for Russian culture: according to tradition, vodka was brought after the successful completion of the work. Contemporaries associated the transition to “tea” with the development of catering in St. Petersburg. “With the proliferation of restaurants, taverns and taverns in St. Petersburg, the use of tea has replaced vodka for a large part of people of the lower category, and even the very word:“ please, master, for vodka ”is almost lost, the worker, wanting a reward for his labors, asks you to give him for tea “, – wrote Alexander Bashutsky in” Panorama of St. Petersburg “(1834).
For a long time, the standard tip for small services remained the 20 kopecks mentioned by Radishchev in his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow (1790). (two-corner). Sometimes they gave a dime (10 kopecks), a five-coin (15 kopecks) or a quarter (25 kopecks). A good tip was considered fifty kopecks (50 kopecks), “real gentlemen” gave a ruble (silver ruble). For special troubles it was possible to bail out “green” (3 rubles), “blue” (5 rubles) or even “red” (10 rubles) banknotes. Judging by the restaurant bills of the early XX century, the tip of the bill was on average the same as now – 10-15%.
The tipping culture was pervasive. “Tea” was supposed to be given to coachmen and coachmen, sex and waiters, doormen, bellhop, maids, postmen, bathhouse attendants, janitors, chimney sweeps, conductors. It was in the order of things for the employee to politely remind the gape of the guest about the tip by giving a sign or direct request. A good tip was often promised in advance – for example, to the coachman, so that he drove faster.
All this supported a high culture of service. It is difficult to say how much the “tip revolution” spoiled it, and how much – the revolution of 1917 itself, but Maugham, who wrote seriously about people who “gained human dignity” after “centuries of cruel oppression,” ends his recording with an indicative lamentation: “Unfortunately , according to general observations, the service staff became rather boorish. They serve badly and carelessly. “



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