This is the Year of the Waiter, and we're going to hear a lot about service, from both sides of the table. I started the year off with my list of 10 commandments for waiters -- waitresses, too -- and have been hearing from them ever since. Now, halfway through the year, it's time to give the waiters the platform. So here, from the servers of Petrucci's restaurant in Laurel are 10 commandments for diners:

1. The way to get a waiter's attention is not by snapping your finger, whistling or shouting, "Oh, waiter," or, worse yet, "Hey, sweetie." (That, the staff points out, is why you need to know the waiter's name.)

2. Never tug on a waiter's clothing or poke him in the back to get his attention.

3. Never interrupt a waiter while he is with another table unless there's a fire or similar emergency.

4. Listen when the waiter lists the specials.

5. Too much help is not helpful. Never "help out" the waiter by lifting your coffee cup while he pours you some coffee.

6. Never take anything from a waiter's tray. Its balance is what keeps the pina coladas from landing on your lap.

7. If a waiter has both arms full of dishes he just bussed from the table next to you, do not offer him your dirty dishes to add to the stack.

8. Never put the waiter in the middle of an argument, such as who will pay the bill.

9. Never use your empty butter dish as an ashtray.

10. Never tell your waiter how wonderful his service was and then leave less than a 15 percent tip.

And now to hear from a third group: kids. At the Lab School of Washington, a school for children with learning disabilities, the 7th-grade humanities class occasionally runs a "restaurant" as one of its projects.

The hardest part of waiting tables? Remembering who ordered what, said one student (a problem plenty of adult waiters have, too). Another student found he'd had to learn "to act happy" and "to be friendly" while serving. Again, grownup waiters have that problem.

Then the class visits a real restaurant to see how its lessons are put to practice in the real world. The two main criticisms the students had of the waiters they'd encountered in restaurants were that some were rude and some didn't look them in the eye when they talked to them. Tabletalk One reason good waiters are hard to find is that many restaurants ignore half the population in their search, and hire only men. The Women's Legal Defense Fund may improve restaurant service for all of us; it has mounted a campaign against job discrimination in restaurants. Not only are women denied employment in many restaurants, they are frequently relegated to lower-scale jobs or lower-price restaurants. While nationally women hold 86 percent of the jobs waiting tables, they earn 30 percent less than men. The WLDF has successfully settled lawsuits with Ridgewells Caterers and Martin's Tavern in Washington, and is searching for more sex discrimination cases to pursue.

As the summer takes you to new places where you need to find good eating, two readers have sent their suggestions for choosing a restaurant on the road:

Take an old road rather than the main highway, suggests Don Beach of Falls Church. Then stop at the place with the most pickup trucks, particularly if there are two neighboring places in competition.

When you arrive at an airport, ask for restaurant suggestions from airline agents, stewardesses {and stewards} as well as rental car agents, recommends Hans Klagsbrunn of Washington. But be selective in asking hotel clerks. Not long ago Klagsbrunn asked a hotel clerk where he would take his wife or girl friend for a really good seafood dinner, and the clerk replied, "Well, I would take my wife to {X} and my girl friend to {Y}." Klagsbrunn found that: "Both were good. {Y} was more expensive."

As you loll on the beach and consider your future, keep in mind the International Association of Cooking Professionals' CAREF scholarship program. It supports education in cooking schools in North American and Europe and is accepting applications through Dec. 15. For information write CAREF, 167 W. 12th St., New York, N.Y. 10011.


1 pint whipping cream

8 ounces blue cheese

8 ounces cream cheese

1/4 to 1/3 cup white wine

Oregano to taste

Dill to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound fettuccine

Pour whipping cream into a saucepan (for thicker sauce use less cream) and bring to a simmer. Add blue and cream cheeses. Stir the mixture until melted. Add white wine and stir. Season to taste with oregano, dill, salt and pepper. Stir well over a low flame for about 20 minutes until slightly thickened and well blended.

In the meantime, in a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles until tender. Drain. Top noodles with sauce and serve immediately.

1987, Washington Post Writers Group