Room Service Comeback
WAITERS ARE ONE THING, a face-to-face matter: room service is another. You are on the phone talking to someone unseen and located who-knows-exactly-where.
Irving Lazar, better known as Swifty, diminutive and aggressive, a famous literary and movie agent for more than four decades, from the 1940s on, once was staying at a hotel in the American West and in the morning called down to order breakfast.
“Yes, sir, what would you like?”
He wanted toast, he said, burned on one side but untoasted on the other. He would also like a soft-boiled egg, he continued, but not completely cooked, mucous-y on top. And coffee—not hot, however, just tepid. How long would that take?
“I’m sorry, sir,” was the answer, “but we’re not equipped to do that.”
“You were yesterday,” Lazar replied dryly.