TIP-ocalypse: The Next Chapter

You thought it was over after a pastor didn’t tip her waitress, the waitress’ friend put a picture of the receipt on Reddit, the pastor complained, the waitress’ friend got fired, the pastor got outed, the Internet went crazy, and the pastor apologized?

Don’t worry, there’s more!

Last night, the local Fox News station in St. Louis featured this story (they did not use the term Tipocalypse, but, you know, it’s probably just a matter of time before it catches on) on their nightly news:

First of all, St. Louis Fox2, 10 points for your use of puns:

Fox2 has the story of the debate that you might say has reached a tipping point.

Anyway, this is what Pastor Alois Bell said for her actions:

It was just dumb!  It was dumb of me.  I can say that because I take responsibilities for all of my actions.

And in regards to getting the waitress fired:

I told the man, I’m like “Hey, I didn’t want…*sigh* I didn’t want this to happen, I just want you to know that this may be happening at your store…

And, finally, an actually apology:

I’m sorry that I wrote it.

But the part that gets my goat is that this Sunday, she plans on delivering a sermon on forgiveness and redemption. Forgiveness and redemption?! Not “charity”? Not “be kind to your fellow human beings”? Not “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me”? You’re giving a sermon on how everyone should just forget this and let you move on with your life?


But, in other news, there has been some really positive response to the whole controversy. Like this receipt left on a table by (I assume) an atheist:

Yay! Yay, good tipping!  Yay, positive secularism!  Yay, being nice to strangers!

Let’s see more of it!

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • David McNerney

    28%… Awesome.

  • Jatterbu

    Would this be a good time to start a “tip 3.14″ campaign to show that atheists care? :p

  • McAtheist

    So the video describes Pastor Parsimonious as a ‘self proclaimed’ pastor, to me that implies she isn’t a pastor, she just says she is. Just as I am a self proclaimed ‘chick magnet’. Does anybody know if Pastor Parsimonious is a pastor or not?

  • Shallos

    I guess gratuity is no longer based upon the performance of the tasks being done, not that it has been for as long as I’ve been tipping, it is purely based upon one’s religious affiliation or the lack there off? I am starting to understand why Neil deGrasse Tyson refused to label himself as an atheist.

  • J.D. Lowe

    Someone on Reddit posted a link to this as a retort:


    Seems fishy to me, but I figured I’d try to spread the word.

  • popeyoni

    “I’m sorry that I wrote it” is not an apology.
    It just means she doesn’t like all the bad publicity.

    An apology has to include an admission of error and an expression of regret for the injury caused (not for the consequences incurred).

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I wanted to follow up on your Vince Vaughn comment from the other thread, but disqus isn’t re-directing from email, so this is a lot easier.

    I was working in a movie theater when famous model came in with a bunch of her nieces and nephews. Most of us didn’t recognize her in her street clothes and sans makeup, but one staff did. She paid with a credit card. That staff member wanted her receipt with her signature on it (no card #). The manager let him photo copy the receipt for the books, and keep the original. Without the model’s knowledge. Probably no rule against it, but it kind of bothered me a bit. She probably would have been happy to sign an autograph if he’d just asked.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    My guess is that she was demoted to being “self proclaimed” after the tip-ocalypse incident, just like Christians suddenly lose their True Christian status after they misbehave. No True Pastor (TM) would skip out on a tip!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    It doesn’t stop. A facebook account “the comical conservative” created a fake receipt showing an atheist stiffing a god-believer, and (as you might expect) Christians are spreading this as if it’s true:


    Also see:

  • Gus Snarp

    After decades of news stories where atheists are referred to as “self proclaimed”, my favorite thing about this story is calling her a “self proclaimed” minister. Schadenfreude. Outside of that, this is now officially the biggest non-story I’ve ever seen.

  • Chris B.

    Anyone can declare themselves to be a pastor in the United States, even if your “church” is just a shabby storefront with 15 attendees. Being ordained by a governing body or earning a divinity degree is not required.

  • LesterBallard

    Along with the Lady Hope story and that Hitchens published an essay on G.K. Chesterton near the end of his life.

  • Pattrsn

    I wish I could understand your post, or maybe not.

  • coyotenose

    Nicely done. I was worried for a few tense moments that there wouldn’t be anybody who managed to miss one hundred percent of the point.

  • Drew M.

    Obligatory Chick Magnet link: http://youtu.be/SPcDyl6tCV8

  • LesterBallard

    Gee, I wish you hadn’t told me about that FB page.

  • remyD

    Is there some kind of way to prove that this is fake? I mean, I’m sure it is, seems fishy just from the look of it, but, I’m going to need to back it up when I confront people posting this on facebook. Does the comical conservative admit in any way to creating it?

  • Randomfactor

    Only when ordering pie.

  • Rain

    “I just want you to know that this may be happening at your store…“

    I was under the impression it was a restaurant. She makes it sound like it’s the corner feed store. Hello, Earth to pastor.

  • RobMcCune

    Conservative politicians have mistaken The Onion as a legitmate news source. This is sad, but not surprising, they always try to drag people down to their level.

  • decathelite

    khaldani goes by Benyamin S. Iskander, who according to Twitter lives in Marion Ohio and is a self described Coptic Christian.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OACIX52YAP2NVKQ5A4CTD4PTWM John Huey

    If possible, you should give the tip in cash rather than adding it to the credit card. The card company charges the restaurant a percentage of the total amount charged and restaurants frequently remove this charge from the tip that the employees receive.

  • Anonymice

    But as a tipped employee, I’d much prefer cc tip over none at all!!

    That whole “less is better than none” outlook.

    But thanks for the reminder!

  • Anonymice

    The “suspended order” on the receipt should be a good clue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    Also, the Facebook page says it’s from Chicago; the tax amount is 5.5%, which is much less than Illinois sales tax (over 10% for a Chicago restaurant, base sales tax starts at 6.25%)

  • icecreamassassin

    I think you’re reading too much into it. I don’t think anyone wants to start a trend of tipping based on random crap like religious or group affiliation – that other receipt was just a tongue-and-cheek lash out against the silliness of this pastor’s tipping practices.

    That one-off particular tip was social commentary, not a declaration of a rule of any kind.

  • Santiago

    “Yay, positive secularism!”

    I was surprised to see secularism qualified as positive. Is non qualified secularism lesser? Maybe this is common knowledge but when I googled it all I found was articles denouncing the pope for lessening secularism by creating an artificial distinction. I will keep researching and educating myself, it is only that I had never heard this term before.

  • Helanna

    Really? I didn’t know that, but I’ll make sure to tip in cash from now on just in case.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    If you care about whoever is getting the money getting the full amount, then it pays to know how much each payment method will cost them. Typically Amex costs more than Vica/MC, which in turn cost more than debit cards, which in turn cost more than cash. Granted, a lot of businesses are happy with plastic because it cuts down on their cost of handling cash. But for charities, individuals etc, cash is best because it’s full value.

    Always remember that the 1% reward the card gives you comes out of the 5% the card charges the merchant, which in turn comes out of the price you pay. It’s quite a racket they have going.

  • Blacksheep

    A bit out of context, but I was wondering how people feel about a tip printed on the bill? I was a waiter when I was younger for a few years, I enjoyed it. Maybe because of that, when I eat out I leave a good tip (20% or more usually).

    However: I always find it odd for a restaurant to automatically print a tip on a reciept. Good places don’t do that (Unless it’s a large party). What if the service is actually bad? The 18% tip is automatic?

    I’m not defending the woman who wrote the note / left no tip at all, she sounds nuts. But I wonder if that’s what she was reacting to, and didn’t know how to express herself?

  • Tobias27

    I think it was just a calculation/suggestion. It wasn’t actually added to the total. There was a blank left for that.

  • Thalfon

    No, it was auto added. The blank in the receipt from the original incident was for additional tip. I know it’s very commonly done for large groups for instance.

  • Thalfon

    Secularism is almost inherently neutral, though I and most here feel it to be a very good thing. The idea behind positive secularism, I think, is just positive acts done in the name of secularism. Which I guess is basically secular humanism being on display. Others may define differently from me, of course.

  • Helanna

    Jeez, now I’m doubly glad I only have the one credit card. Maybe I’ll just switch to using cash for everything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=181100183 Shannon Kish

    I love the new receipt!

  • GregFromCos

    31.4 might go over better! :) 3.14 might be some bad press…

  • Santiago

    Thanks Thalfon. I guessed that much from the context but was wondering if It was being used to define some other attitude or viewpoint regarding secularism that I was not aware of (sometimes I disconnect for a while from the community and things are changing fast these days). Again, thanks for the clarification.

  • Mark Johnston

    It might be a good idea to be gracious in this case. The pastor feels like crap – yes, it’s totally appropriate to feel like crap over this. We won’t gain anything by rubbing her nose in it. We need to show that we can be grown-ups. Graciously accept the apology, but keep an eye out to ensure that she doesn’t jack with anyone ever again.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    The guy who’s on the Restaurant Stakeout show always calls people’s restaurants “stores.” Apparently it’s some kind of industry jargon. At least, he seems to want to give that impression; I can’t be sure ’cause I only watched the show once and it looked pretty fake to me. Anyway, maybe that’s the kind of stunt she’d been trying to pull …

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Apparently the tip is automatic for large groups. IIRC the “pastor’s” group was 20. They’d asked for separate checks, perhaps hoping to evade that requirement, but the computer was way ahead of them and added it anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison
  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Ayn Rand flavor Objectivism seems more secular than religious, and more negative (in these matters) than positive.

    But that’s a pretty subjective assessment.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    I’m mixed on this story. I do feel bad for the pastor who did admit her mistake. I don’t think it should haunt her forever. She admitted that she made a mistake and I think we should forgive her. On the other hand, the waitress still got fired and that is pretty shitty. I totally agree with you that there is more that the pastor could have done and should have done. That sermon about forgiveness was absolutely the wrong way to go and if she really feels bad that the waitress got fired, she should help the waitress get another job or help her get her old job back.

    I love the atheist meme of giving extra tip. That is very classy and I have seen a few other receipts on facebook from atheists too. It’s spreading and hopefully we will get some positive PR from it.

  • starskeptic

    “…the waitress’ friend put a picture of the receipt on Reddit, the pastor complained, the waitress’ friend got fired,…”


  • amycas

    Many restaurants add an automatic 18% tip to parties of 8 or more. This is because large parties tend to stay longer, they take up more of the server’s section and prevents them from being able to turn smaller table. It makes sure that the server is able to get paid for the time and work put into the large table. Afaik, the guest is always allowed to ask them to remove the automatic tip, and then they can tip whatever they like.

  • amycas

    I had a party of 10 one time request separate checks because they thought they could get out of the automatic tip. I informed them that it’s added to all parties of 8 or more and if they want it taken off then we will.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    Thanks! Fixed

  • jj

    I’ll say that I still think that a tip is for service, and should never be obligated. Tips seems to be expected and rarely is any extra service given.

  • Amakudari

    It’s typically closer to 1.5–3%, and merchants that are bothered by it are now legally allowed to put a surcharge on credit cards. Reward cards, FWIW, are the biggest culprit. Personally, I find that debit cards strike a nice balance, especially if you can enter your PIN instead of signing (the latter entails more risk of fraud and thus higher fees). If I had to go to ATMs to get cash all the time, I simply wouldn’t eat out as much, and that’s worse for a restaurant than a swipe fee.

    The Durbin amendment to Dodd-Frank put a cap on swipe fees, by the way, although it doesn’t have much of an impact except on very large transactions.

  • Amakudari

    Still, there’s no need to prove it’s a fake. You could do this to any receipt lacking tip, like if someone tips in cash, signs the merchant copy, etc. Shoot, I can do it with a receipt in my pocket right now. The burden of proof is on the person posting it—although, of course, we’re talking about religionists, who struggle with the idea of a burden of proof.

    In any case, the tax rate says it’s from Ohio or Nebraska. So clearly the person posting it is either lying or unaware of its origins. Combine that with the lack of a signature and the convenient timing, and I’m all but certain it’s a fake.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Interesting. I’ve heard that as gas prices rise station profits fall since they get a fixed amount per gallon from the distributor (Shell e.g.) so the credit card fee eats more of it.

  • Amakudari

    Yeah, that can certainly affect it. Apparently with credit card swipe fees stations can also lose money per gallon.

    Also, as prices rise demand falls (although short-term demand for gas is relatively inelastic), and you can fail to pass on the entirety of higher costs to the consumer. I think the biggest reason is that the customers, which are fewer when prices are high, will budget less to spend inside, which is the stations’ real bread and butter.

    I’ve always thought it sounded like a really rough industry to be in.

  • starskeptic

    If servers got paid something above starvation wages, I’d agree.
    That being said – I think expectations have undergone a shift – mainly, I think, because servers have felt the effect of wage stagnation more than just about anyone else. It used to be that a tip was something extra – now it’s anticipated, and needed; the public is subsidizing server’s pay and we need to put the blame on the real culprit…the employers.

  • starskeptic

    That sounds like a version of the “new age” apology: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”, which most people mistake for an apology because the word ‘sorry’ is tossed in there. In reality, there isn’t an apology within a hundred yards of it.

  • TicklishMeerkat

    A few posts down, someone reveals that this is a totally fake receipt. It’s not even a real receipt–note that it says “suspended” at the top, meaning someone put the order into the computer but didn’t actually finish charging it. But Christians are apparently going nuts spreading it anyway, because if it should be true, in their eyes, then that’s as good as it being true. Shame on the poster for claiming it was given to “her boo,” though. I guess lying is totally okay if it’s done to make non-Christians look bad (I was going to write “for Jesus,” but even I couldn’t figure how she thought lying in this manner would accomplish that).

  • ecolt

    Stories like this kill me. I am a waitress and bartender, and people don’t realize that we need those tips to survive. I get paid $3.00 an hour. It’s legal for me to be paid less than minimum specifically because I get tips. However, I do have to claim tip income for taxes, so in the end my hourly rate barely covers the withholdings. So when someone stiffs me, I’m essentially working for free.

    And there is a reason for an automatic gratuity to be added to large parties. If I have a table of eight or ten people, it takes a lot more of my time to take care of their needs than it does a table of two or three. That one table means there are a few smaller tables that I just don’t have the time to take care of. When a tip is automatically added to a large group waitresses don’t make that much more off it; it just covers what we’ve lost by not being able to take more tables.

    Pastors get paid, and often get free housing and other perks, for complete BS. I don’t think it’s too much to expect that a waitress gets paid for working her butt off to make someone else happy.

  • Houndentenor

    I’ve been thinking about this. The 18% tip was not optional. It was clearly stated in the menu that this would be added to all large parties. By not paying it and walking out, she basically stole from Applebees. She should be criminally charged for “dine and dash”.

  • allein

    I’ve never seen a tip actually added except for a large party, and if they are calling it a gratuity I don’t think they can force you to pay it. (If they called it a service charge or something that may have a different legal connotation.) I have seen receipts that had what 15, 20, and sometimes 25% would be, printed at the bottom, but they do that so people don’t have to do math (and it probably encourages some people to tip slightly better as a result since they don’t have to think about it).
    Usually I’ll either use my phone’s tip calculator, or just figure out 10% and multiply that by 2 (and usually round up to the next dollar, too). If things were really good I’ll add a few extra dollars on top.

  • David Starner

    She may feel like crap, but she still didn’t use her pulpit to call her own behavior out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rox1smf Roxanne Brown

    $35 between a party of 10? For God’s sake (heh), serving that many people at once is worth at least 25%.

  • Derrik Pates

    The bill in question was for a table of 10. Most chain restaurants tack on a tip automatically for large parties (this is usually mentioned on the menu). Though if you didn’t know this, I can only assume you’ve not gone to a restaurant in… ever?

  • Derrik Pates

    That would be hilarious if they could have. I heard the waitress in question got canned for putting that online though, so I’m guessing Applebee’s (or the franchise holder) isn’t going to be pushing too very hard for that.

  • Derrik Pates

    Agreed, my mom waited tables for a long time, and so I learned more than I ever wanted to know about what table servers can be paid because of tipping. It’s weird going to Europe and Asia, where tipping isn’t expected (and in certain places, like China, is even considered rude/disrespectful).

    And as far as pastors being paid, they also pay virtually nothing in tax as I understand it, or at least they can play enough games with having their church “pay for” things so they can pay very little in tax, and often do so. It’s disgusting and shameful.

  • Derrik Pates

    For a large group, I personally think the automatic gratuity is totally reasonable. If you have a big group, you’re monopolizing way more space and way more of the waiter/waitress’ time and effort. With the number of dicks who’ll happily stiff the wait staff on $100+ tickets, unless the waiter/waitress is just horribly incompetent (in which case, you should be asking for the manager), why shouldn’t they be able to depend on a tip for a large group? You do realize that in the US, waitstaff can be paid less than US$3/hr, because tipping is treated as part of their wages?

  • Derrik Pates

    I have to agree with what someone said above – the “pastor”‘s “apology” didn’t sound like much of one. More of an “I’m sorry you were offended” type apology.

  • r a

    When I’m hungry I order tau.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

    Jessica, She didn’t leave a 20% cash tip so your “gut feeling” is based on poor math. She left a $6 (17%) tip and did so before seeing the bill according to her. The only other evidence we have is the lying waitress who has made two contradictory statements. On reddit she claimed to be the waitress and that no complaint was made about her service. This is false because when she got fired in another news article she admitted that she was NOT the server, and that she only snapped a picture of the receipt when shown it. She was misleading reddit users as to the facts. She posted it on reddit with the signature and that is why the pastor got pissed and called the company to complain. Likely the pastor didn’t find it on reddit either. Likely got harrassed and that’s why she went apeshit. Of course the company is going to fire the waitress. She should not be posting customer receipts on the internet with their signatures.
    The last time I heard about a receipt being posted online because of a comment on it, the waiter (or waitress) altered it to make it way smaller than it actually was. They lied too. Luckily the tip wasn’t cash, he kept it, and was able to prove the waiter/waitress was a lying.
    They are not saints you know.