St. Louis pastor Alois Bell was enjoying a nice meal at Applebee’s last Friday, as one does. Then came a shock: Since she was eating with a large group, the restaurant tacked on an automatic 18% gratuity. Disgruntled for some reason, because apparently she had never been out to eat before, Bell scratched out the tip line on her bill, wrote “I give God 10% why do you get 18,” and added “Pastor” above the signature to make clear her moral standing.
One writer and former server, Justin Lee, sums up the problem:
Yes, a lot of us think the tipping system in America could be improved. In many countries, servers are paid a decent wage, and tips are an added incentive to reward a job especially well done. I know a lot of people who think it should be that way in the United States, too, but it’s not. In most states, servers are paid only a little over $2 an hour (yes, you read that right), with the expectation that they will make their living from tips. You might not like that system, but if you choose to express your displeasure with it by tipping your server poorly, the only person you’re hurting is the server—someone who is already living on very little money and depending on your tip to help them pay their bills.
Lee, like Pastor Bell, is a Christian, and he writes about how he cringes when he hears about fellow Christians going out of their way to be so miserly: “We’re supposed to be the generous ones, not the stingy and selfish ones.”
And Lee’s post was written before the final insult was delivered. After the photo of the receipt started blowing up the Internet (initially with her name in clear view) Pastor Bell called up Applebee’s and vented about her embarrassment. “My heart is really broken,” she told the Smoking Gun. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.” Poor Pastor Bell!
The server who posted the receipt online, on the other hand, was more than embarrassed: She was fired. “We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” she told Consumerist. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.” (The fired server was not the one waiting on Bell’s table last week.) She tried to post a copy of the receipt without the pastor’s name showing when Reddit users started trying to decipher it, but the damage had already been done.
So, all’s crappy that ends crappy: One server gets stiffed on a tip, a tightwad gets embarrassed on the web, and a server working for peanuts gets fired.
Tip your servers!