A Tipping Point

Chelsea Welch was a waitress at Applebee’s. One of her colleagues had a table of eight Christians who didn’t spend a whole lot and then left her no tip. Well, the tip was automatically included, as is often done with parties of six or more. But the person paying the check crossed out the included tip, wrote a big zero on the additional tip line, and left an inspirational note for the waitress: “I give God 10%, why do you get 18? –Pastor.”

Welch’s colleague thought this tip (or lack thereof) and note, though rude and frustrating, was also comical. So she gave the receipt with the note to Welch, who took a picture of it and posted it to Reddit, where it became quite popular. So popular, in fact, that “Pastor” saw it, called the Applebee’s, and demanded that everyone involved in taking and posting the picture should be fired, including the manager on duty at the time. So, like I said, Chelsea Welch was a waitress at Applebee’s.

There is so much wrong with this story. First, a party of eight spends only $34.93. That’s less than $4.50 a person. So most of them probably just got drinks or something. Perhaps this was a Bible study or religious get-together? Ugh.

Second, there’s nothing the waitress could have done about the automatic “gratuity.” Especially in a corporate restaurant, the manager won’t even do anything to remove it. So “Pastor” shouldn’t have been annoyed with her waitress (That’s right. It was a female “pastor”).

Third, the waitress wasn’t requiring 18% of the “Pastor’s” entire salary. Just 18% of the pittance she spent at Applebee’s that night. So the comparison to a tithe was just bad math. And stupid. Assuming “Pastor” makes $30,000 a year, the waitress was actually asking for about 0.02%. I hate to be a stickler, but those are the facts. Is this pastor writing her bank and telling them, “I’m not paying my mortgage ever again because it is a higher percentage of my yearly income than what God requires of me.” And don’t even get me started on tax percentages. Stupid. And mean.

Fourth, pay the tip and add to it. Why not? It’s less than ten dollars to you, but it makes a big difference to the waitress. And you are representing God here. So you should be generous. Because haters of God are using your cheapness to slander Him.

Fifth, “Pastor” should have allowed herself to feel shame and repented of being a cheap embarrasment to her church and her God. She shouldn’t have called in angrily and made the situation even worse by getting an innocent low-income waitress fired.

There’s probably more that can be said. I was a waiter for many years, and I hated waiting on mainstream Christians. They were generally rude, demanding, and cheap. And then they would leave little or no tip. I had people leave me tracts instead of tips more than once. Were there exceptions? Yes. But really few, to be honest. And this just shouldn’t be so. First, even if a tip were a matter of generosity, which it is not, Christians should be the most generous people in the restaurant. Calling a tip a gratuity is a misnomer, because a tip is not gratuitous (i.e., extra). Wait staff get paid in tips. They work for a much lower hourly rate and pay taxes on a base amount of tips whether they make those tips or not. Most of the time, my paycheck was just a pay stub, indicating that all of my pay had gone to taxes. So a tip, in my opinion, is required payment for services rendered. And don’t tell me the wait staff could just get another job. You could just eat at home. But if you do eat out, try not to be an embarrassment to Christianity. In fact, do something of benefit to the church’s reputation: leave an extremely healthy tip (more than 20%), and leave a note thanking the waiter or waitress in God’s name. This is a little thing, but if everyone did it, it would go a long way.