On this date in 1916, the Santa Ana Register reported the sad fate of W. J. Doyle.
After several hours working as a waiter at a Seal Beach cafe on July 4th, Doyle quit due to illness. As his boss was paying him his final wages, poor Doyle, well, died. His body was given to the Waiters Union of Los Angeles for burial. According to the California Death Index, 1905-1939, W.J. (no full names were listed for his initials) Doyle was fifty-five.
What is interesting about this newspaper story is the choice of phrases and what the reporter leaves out of the story. The name of the cafe and the name of the gentleman known simply as “the employer” are not mentioned. The reporter writes very carefully about Doyle, “he went to his employer and told him he was sick and wanted to quit.”
This is pure speculation over a hundred years later, but it seems more likely that Doyle felt sick and asked to go home, but “the employer” insisted he continue working. Doyle either quit at that point or the employer fired Doyle when Doyle insisted he was too ill to work.
There’s an old saw about how any publicity is good publicity, but I’m sure “the employer” was glad that his name and his restaurant’s name were excluded from the story. The Santa Ana Register editor probably didn’t want to alienate a Seal Beach advertiser, but this story was just too juicy to resist running with some careful editing.
And for those of you with overbearing bosses who give you grief every time you call in sick, be sure to remind them of poor, overworked W. J. Doyle.
– Michael Dobkins
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