The Ballad Of The Thoughtless Waiter

I saw him lying cold and dead
Who yesterday was whole.
"Why," I inquired, "hath he expired?
And why hath fled his soul?

"but yesterday," his comrade said,
"All health was his, and strength;
And this is why he came to die--
If I may speak at length.

"But yesternight at dinnertime
At a not unknown café,
He had a frugal meal as you
Might purchase any day.

"The check for his so simple fare
Was only eighty cents,
And a dollar bill with a right good will
Came from his opulence.

"The waiter brought him twenty cents.
'Twas only yesternight
That he softly said who now is dead
'Oh, keep it. 'Ats a' right.'

"And the waiter plainly uttered 'Thanks,'
With no hint of scorn or pride;
And my comrade's heart gave a sudden start
And my comrade up and died."

Now waiters overthwart this land,
In tearooms and in dives,
Mute be your lips whatever the tips,
And save your customers' lives.

by Franklin Pierce Adams

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