On January 29th Chelsea (she has not given her last name), a waitress at an Applebee’s (location unknown) posted a picture to the atheism page at Reddit. It shows part of a receipt with a scribbled note that reads, “I give GOD 10% why do you get 18,” with the printed tip amount of $6.29 scratched out and a “0″ written instead. The signer thought it important to indicate that he was a Pastor. The waitress posted the picture with the comment, “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries.” A full ten points for style there.
The Consumerist picked up the story, with quotes from the server elucidating the situation. The Pastor was with a group of 20 people and, like nearly every other restaurant, Applebee’s adds a gratuity of 18% for a group of more than eight. The amount shown in the picture is only part of the more than $200 bill. The diners can add more to the tip if they choose, but that 18% is added by the establishment’s computer. It’s not like it’s a surprise, either, as it’s printed on the menu. Apparently the group was happy with the service they received, so she doesn’t believe that was a factor. Chelsea wasn’t even the group’s server – she got the receipt from one of her co-workers. When she posted the picture, she did not redact the signature because she “… assumed the name was illegible.” She did eventually replace it with a version missing the signature but it was too late.
“All throughout the comment thread on the Reddit post, I withheld any identifying information. I had already started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and blogs and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer. I refused to confirm any of them, and all of them were incorrect. I worked with the website moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting” (Source)
Once online sleuths began to hunt for him, the Pastor must have begun to feel the heat. But did he apologize or try to make it right? Of course not. It turns out that the Pastor, rather than attempting to do the right thing and clear his name, called the restaurant on Wednesday and demanded that everyone who was there that night – up to and including the manager – be fired. Because, well… because he’s an asshat, I guess.
Chelsea explained that she had checked the employee handbook before posting the receipt and had not broken any rules that she knew of. But she ended up getting fired anyway. A good employee – there were no prior incidents – who was well-liked by both co-workers and customers, who worked late and came in early and skipped bathroom and meal breaks, was fired because of a skinflint who couldn’t stand the heat his actions drew. As for why in the world anyone would compare tithing at church to tipping a waitress.. all one can do is scratch their head. After all, the restaurant chain was never identified. At least not until they decided to fire Chelsea.
Since she was making $3.50 an hour in actual salary, tips were very important; Chelsea says that she made about $9 an hour before taxes. Growing up in Las Vegas and having many friends and relatives who worked in the hospitality industry, I have seen this situation most of my life. Tips are what keeps a job as a server from being poverty-level employment.
So one person who got embarrassed because their miserliness and self-righteous attitude was spread on the Internet chose to make matters even worse for a young lady who is just trying to get by. And using God as an excuse for his behavior is just loathsome. As one commenter on Reddit aptly wrote:
“… see Proverbs 14:31: ‘He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.’”
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…