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Ten Percent To God

I waited tables at various restaurants for a decent sized chunk of my life.  I’ve received amazing tips and I’ve been stiffed on bills.  I’ve had nights where I take in hundreds and nights where it’s barely worth the drive to and from work.  I’ve had to clean macaroni off of light fixtures and ketchup fingerpaint masterpieces off of windows.  Being a server is a job that I mostly loved, sometimes hated, but am always thankful that I had a chance to work.  It taught me a lot about the food industry and about human nature.  It’s very interesting to see how different people treat those who serve them their food, especially when the service involves a tip that is mostly under the control of the customer (except with large parties if a policy is in place).  Naturally, I was instantly drawn to the recent story involving an Applebee’s server and a tip from a customer who happened to be a pastor.

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The server, Chelsea Welch, was fired from Applebee’s after posting the receipt from Pastor Alois Bell on Reddit.com.  Welch stated that she found the note insulting, but also comical, which is why she shared the photo online.  Bell called the restaurant and complained, and because her signature was visible in the photo and it was obvious that it was her, the restaurant felt justified in firing Welch.  The former Applebee’s server disagrees, saying that it was obvious Bell wanted her note to be seen.  While she may have wanted it to be seen by staff, Bell obviously didn’t count on the receipt going viral and did request that Applebee’s fire everyone involved.  She later apologized and called the note a lapse in judgment, but the damage is already done to the server who lost her job and to her church’s image.

In an email to the Huffington Post, Applebee’s spokesperson Dan Smith stated:  “Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.”

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Waiting tables is a tiring and often thankless job.  The hourly paid wage, generally set at slightly above $2, will usually go entirely to taxes; the only actual paycheck I received from any restaurant I was employed at was the check from my time training.  Many servers also have to share a portion of their tips with the host or hostess, the bussers, the expediter, and the bartenders.  When I was employed at Applebee’s, we were required to add the 18% gratuity to large parties, just as Welch did to Bell’s party.  The customers can tip on top of that amount if they choose, or can leave the bill as is.  My opinion is that an additional tip should be added because large parties add extra work to the server, are more demanding, and reduce the amount of tables the server can turn on their shift.  As long as the server does a good job, they deserve a few dollars on top of the gratuity already added.

Bell claims that she did in fact leave cash on the table on top of the already added gratuity, something that unfortunately can’t be easily verified.  The note she left on the receipt, however, is clear as day.  God receives 10% and it’s unreasonable for Welch to receive 18%, therefore she receives nothing else.  Bell also felt it was key to inform Welch that she is a pastor and therefore qualified to speak on this matter.  The tip amount isn’t what I find issue with, since the gratuity did ensure that Welch was compensated for her work on Bell’s party.  The issue is that Bell felt the need to leave Welch a note and emphasize that the reason she wasn’t entitled to a larger tip was because God required his 10%.

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I have received plenty of crappy tips tucked inside a religious pamphlet, or just the literature and no tip at all.  I’ve had people write me notes asking God to bless me in lieu of a tip.  I got to the point to where I would cringe at the first sight of those pamphlets, knowing they would be lying on the table accompanied by a dollar if I was lucky.  I’ve also had tips in the neighborhood of 50% left by people involved with the local church.  It’s important that no one confuses religious belief with being cheap and stingy, as that is not the case.  Bell was under no obligation whatsoever to add a tip on top of the gratuity, although I believe it should be done.  What she WAS obligated to do was be polite and not make someone feel badly or feel as if they aren’t important enough to be compensated fairly.  It was rude to leave the note and even ruder to emphasize that Welch wasn’t entitled to even the 18% gratuity.

If Bell’s goal was to educate Welch and her fellow employees about God, this was the wrong way to do it.  If she was trying to emphasize that her beliefs and dedication are both strong, this was not the place or the time for it.  What Bell did manage to accomplish was successfully making religious people look cheap and feeding the stereotype that the devout are poor tippers.  Bell successfully made herself look like a fool who thinks it is appropriate to abuse her title as a pastor.  She then took it a step further and demanded Welch lose her job because she was rightfully upset by Bell’s disrespectful note.  Welch was wrong in including Bell’s signature in the photo, but I don’t find fault in her sharing the note online.  Imagine if at the end of your exhausting work day, your boss denied you partial compensation because God was due his share.  You’re lying if you claim you’d be fine with that.

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Customers at any restaurant have the right to tip what they wish and to leave religious pamphlets if they so choose.  Servers have the right to throw those pamphlets in the trash and complain about the crappy tip, or lack thereof, that they received.  I’m unsure why Bell thought it was appropriate to scribble a Godly note all over the receipt that the restaurant keeps in their records, but she did it to make a point and we’ve all heard it loud and clear.  She was within her rights to deny additional tip and to spread the word of God and she was within her rights to complain when the receipt when viral.  But in doing so, she put herself in a position to be scrutinized and to deserve some backlash.  Bell opened the door and now she wants to complain because people are walking through it.  She acted on some bizarre impulse and now she is unhappy because people all over the country are finding out about it.  She realized too late that a note on a receipt with her full name on it wasn’t the proper place for her message.

I hope that Welch is able to secure another job quickly and I hope that something is learned from this event.  There is a right way and a wrong way to go around spreading a message.  There is a level of respect that should be maintained regardless of who you are dealing with and what they are paid to do for you.  There is a certain level of personal responsibility that must be taken if you’re leaving embarrassing things lying around with your name and/or face attached to them.  There are better ways of acting on your frustrations than simply going on impulse.  And there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to be rude to a stranger, especially one who just spent the better part of their evening ensuring that you and your companions are having a good time.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on February 1, 2013, in Food, News and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Prov. 14:31. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.
    Prov. 14:32. That was a joke, haha. Fuck the poor.

    Only one of these verses is actually in the Bible.

  2. Oh yeah, did you ever get one of those pamphlets for a tip that were specifically made to look like a given denominational bill (5/10/20/etc.)? They would fold so they looked like a folded dollar, then when you opened it you’d see “Disappointed? Convert and you won’t be!”.

    Seems like a great way to drive people into hating everything to do with religion, to me.

    • YES!!!!! Those were the worst! It’s even more of a let down when I’m fooled into thinking there is cash on the table. So horrible. If you want to stiff me because I failed at serving you, or if you’re just cheap, that’s one thing. But don’t shove your religion at me and act like I need saving, thinking that will make up for a lack of a tip. God won’t pay my rent 🙂

  3. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m inspired! Very useful info particularly the last phase 🙂 I take care of such info a lot. I used to be seeking this certain information for a long time. Thanks and good luck.

  4. I agree with your comments about Bell. That pastor really made an ass out of herself. However, the waitress was still wrong to put it online. Not because of what was written but because it was a signed reciept. Someone who handles items dealing with monetary transactions has to be a little more in control of themselves than to do something like that. As you mentioned, there are better ways of dealing with frustration than acting on impulse. Welch should have thought about the consequences to her actions before she got mad. She really didn’t handle herself much better than Bell.

    • You’re missing the part where the waitress that posted it online was not the waitress that waited on Bell.

      • “Did I say that? If I said that, I would have been wrong!”

        Joe vs. the Volcano

        • The point was that the frustrated/angry waitress had no part in the posting of the ticket online, Welch did it because she thought it was funny.

          • It WAS funny! I only wish that the photograph had cut out Bell’s signature so that she wouldn’t have had that extra ammunition when she realized she was being mocked and embarrassed.

            • I think that would have been the better way to do it. I would have cropped out any personal information that would identify the waitress, the restaurant, or the customer or their personal information.

              Granted that would not leave a lot left, but the humor is in what that idiot wrote on the receipt about god. A reference to a “major” family restaurant chain and some unidentifiable information about what happened, that it was a pastor, etc… probably would still have gone viral. Maybe.

              This is just an extension of your more recent post about dumb people. They are everywhere, and there are dumb people in every job, every industry, everywhere in the world.

              People don’t appreciate that it was the dumb people that The Founders wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to protect everyone else from because it’s the Democratic mob majority (MAJORITY!) that is uneducated, holier-than-thou, self-centered and narcissistic that wants to force their beliefs and wants onto everyone else and use the mechanism of Big Government to do it. This is just one more idiot in a long line of idiots that we need to protect ourselves from.

  5. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moments pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

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