Can’t a Christian just be cruel on the down low?

Last week, a picture got popular on reddit.  It seems a table of 20 (most likely a large post-church gathering which, I can tell you after years of working restaurants, is the most sure way to get a lousy tip) didn’t like the auto-gratuity of 18% for large groups getting added to the bill.  So the pastor did this to the receipt:

Crossed out the auto gratuity and wrote "zero" along with "I give god 10%, why do you get 18?

Love the sinner, hate the bill.

Another case of religion making people more moral.  As a pastor, he almost certainly believes that morality (you know, the antithesis of dodging accountability and of selfishness) are augmented through belief in Christ, the irony of which is scribbled onto that receipt.

So the server put the picture of the receipt on reddit, which allowed it to somehow get back to the pastor.  All of a sudden he wasn’t so proud of his little message.

Some time on Wednesday, Chelsea says the customer who had left the receipt contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.

It’s kind of like what the Catholic church does.  The problem, in the eyes of the pastor, doesn’t seem to be that he’s the type to stiff a server who just worked a table of 20, but that word got out that some anonymous guy did it in the loving name of Jesus.  Apparently it’s not his fault for writing the message, it’s the server’s fault for spreading it.  Can’t a Christian just be a reprehensible person without accountability anymore?  What is this immoral world coming to?

Sadly, the pastor got part of what he wanted: the server was fired.

I used to be a manager at a Chuck E. Cheese back in the day.  Their policy is very much that the customer is always right.  Seriously, you want free stuff at Chuck E. Cheese?  Just complain.  Let me tell you, when parents think their kids might not be maximally happy at Chuck E. Cheese, they have a real tendency to lose their fucking minds.  You can get some real pieces of work in there.  There were a couple of times when I got into trouble with the higher ups because I asked a customer “How dare you treat another human being that way?” before telling them to leave and not return.

I realize you’re a business and that you’re in it to make money.  But when the money of a single asshole means more to you than an employee, you’ve chosen your clientele – and you’ve made it apparent that people like me who think ill of kowtowing corporate whores with free food coupons rushing out to reward the people who mistreat their employees need to take our business elsewhere.

Applebee‘s is also one of the companies cutting hours to avoid giving their employees health benefits.  Fuck Applebee’s.  I’m glad to hear that Applebee’s and similar companies are paying for mistreating their employees, even if their customers aren’t.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Loqi

    As a pastor, he almost certainly believes that morality (you know, the antithesis of dodging accountability and selfishness) are augmented through belief in Christ, the irony of which is scribbled onto that receipt.


    • neatospiderplant


      Chelsea’s post on Reddit was titled “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries,”

      • Loqi
        • neatospiderplant

          Yeah, I just read that. Came back to correct myself. I wonder why the post said “Sir”. I must be missing something.

          • Christopher Stephens

            The server said “sir,” among other things, like giving an inaccurate physical description, to specifically prevent other people from identifying the customer.

          • neatospiderplant

            @Christopher Stephens

            Ok, that seems obvious now that you mention it. lol.

  • Zme

    The reason his god only gets 10% is that it doesn’t do anything, whereas his waiter has served 20 people and should get something out of it other than below minimum wage.

    Fuck this pastor and fuck Applebees for canning the rightfully pissed off employee.

  • Umlud

    There seems to be a bit of a comment thread over at the Applebee’s Facebook page in response to their company statement:

    Based on some comments, it looks like they’re trying to stem some of the bad press by deleting comments. I’m half tempted to call Applebee’s to make a reservation at 6:30 for a party of 12 or 15 people, and then call them up at 6:30 saying that we’re just a little bit late, but we should be there shortly, and then call them back after another 15 minutes, blaming the traffic for the delay, but that our group is really hungry and we’re be ready to order when we get there. Finally, at about 7:00, I’d call them again and ask to speak to their manager, and to tell the manager that I just learned about the reprehensible actions that the company took against these servers and that we’ll have to cancel our reservation, and that our group will no longer eat at their restaurant until such time as Applebee’s posts an official apology for their actions. (Oh, and it’s nothing personal, but our group felt that we could no longer support a company that lacked a moral compass.)

    I’m tempted, but not THAT tempted. Simply boycotting them – and letting them know that I’m doing so each time I’m looking to make a reservation for eating out – is more my speed.

    • Azkyroth

      I just might do this.

      • WMDKitty

        If you do, please record it for posterity.

    • Robert

      The biggest problem with this plan is that it will wind up hurting a server. When a large party has a reservation, it is put together from tables in some server’s section. While they are waiting for the party to arrive, that server is making no money from those tables. If the party is large enough, this can mean the server’s entire section.

      I was waiting tables in a pizza place once and we had a large reservation. It took up all of my tables. The tables sat empty for over an hour during the dinner rush while we waited for the party to arrive. They never showed up and I lost tons of money that night.

      • H.H.

        Yeah, this. Fucking with the waitstaff at a single location is pretty much the worst way you could send a message to the home office.

  • David

    If my server does a good job, I leave 20%. If God did a good job, I’ld leave him/her 20%, too.

    • Stogoe

      God only gets $2.15 an hour plus tips – even when He never shows up to work, never takes your order, never brings out the food, and fails to keep the water glasses full (let alone turn it to wine), He expects you to tip 10%. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to afford rent and groceries.

  • Doris

    No, I don’t like that the pastor was religiously uppity. I don’t like that the hard working waitress was stiffed, BUT in all fairness after reading other stories about it, the waitress who posted it on reddit was not the one who served the pastor’s party and she said she thought it was “interesting” and decided to take a snapshot with her phone and post it not realizing the persons name could be read. I would be upset if someone posted something private of mine with my name attached. Apparently we have no expectation of privacy of our receipts or payments.
    Do I think Applebees went overboard? Probably. Do I think some sort of reprimand was in order? yes.

    • unbound

      I looked at the post over at reddit, and I don’t see the person’s name in the picture (was it edited later?), and I don’t see the person’s name mentioned by the person doing the post.

      Furthermore, the person who posted it did state, “…They had no problem with my service, and told me I was great. They just didn’t want to pay when the time came…”. Apparently, they tried to separate the check into individual checks hoping to avoid the auto-tip, even though only one person paid.

      I am sensitive to personal information being exposed, but that did not appear to occur in this case. It appears that the pastor was informed about the reddit post and decided act like an even bigger ass by demanding all the employees be fired…which is how the pastor’s name got exposed.

    • H.H.

      If you use a private receipt to write a note intended for another person, doesn’t that already nullify any tacit expectation of confidentiality? Why should the recipient not be allowed to share the note simply because the author failed to choose a less personal document upon which to compose it?

      • Nate Frein

        This is a good point….

        I’d be curious to see a legal opinion on this.

  • Rain

    I love how it’s okay to say they literally give God 10% when everyone knows damn well they don’t. Especially in this case since it was a pastor. You know, the one that gets the 10% from people. She’s the one that gets to not give the 10% and collect the 10% from everyone else. So yeah, I’m saying she’s lying in order to make a snotty rhetorical point.

    • Andrew Kohler

      The same thing occurred to me. It’s just so wrong on oh so many levels.

    • Steve

      It’s actually not uncommon for pastors to tithe themselves, but the important point here is that her “church” only has 15 people and she has a day job. This means that the contributions to her “church” are tax deductible. So it’s still a scam.

  • Andrew Kohler

    So, God gets 10% and instead of the server who just dealt with your party of 20 (no doubt a DELIGHTFUL if this is a representative sample) gets NOTHING? It’s not “Sorry, I have a 10% maximum policy,” or even “Well, if God gets 10% you can get 6.5%.” It’s…you get nothing.

    Perhaps Applebee’s should have said, “Oh, you’re the guy who DIDN’T PAY WHAT WE REQUIRED YOU TO. You owe use $6.29″ Seriously–that was automatically added to the bill! It’s one thing to stiff a server on a voluntary tip (only justified in cases of extreme unpleasantness or incompetence); it’s being a crappy jerkface within one’s legal rights. But, since when can people just decide not to pay for part of the bill and get away with it!?

    I just saw the old post about the asshole saying, “I don’t tip any more because of Obama and I redistribute my money as I see fit,” which apparently means not paying people for their services (as discussed on that post, it’s actually how servers are supposed to earn their full wages). But at least that asshole made clear that, you know, screwing Crystal out of her tip wasn’t *personal.* This sanctimonious sack of excrement seethes contempt for the very idea that a HUMAN should dare to ask for any form of payment or recognition because god gets 10% of his money. Only a god wouldn’t even get the money if it did exist; the church would get it to…who the hell knows. It’s just like that awful Mother Superior tells Sydney Poitier’s character in the film version of Lilies of the Field–I was just thinking of that early this evening–she doesn’t say “thank you” to people because that steals credit from god. And of COURSE he signs it “Pastor,” to demonstrate his authority for stealing (because he was *required to pay that money*) and being a haughty twit. And the lack of question marks at the end of questions really drives me nuts, especially because it’s often used to increase the level of sneering disdain as it is here. (Note: even though I find this to be more personally insulting that the blame-Obama note and even though this is actually stealing, both incidents are of course equally reprehensible and galling.)

    Sure, it doesn’t seem terribly professional to post this on the internet. Had one been able to tell the schmuck’s name from the picture, I could see why the server might get in trouble, and if the server had posted his address/phone number/email I’d not be comfortable with that. As it is, however, all one can tell is that it’s a pastor (I don’t know if the location of the restaurant was posted or not, of course, which could make it easier to determine the identity)–and, hey, if you want to throw around your title, you have to accept the consequences. More importantly: it’s not like the server-customer relationship entails legally protected confidentiality as with a religious adviser or a spouse, for reasons I frankly don’t understand (why is the need of a criminal to confess to a priest valued legally over making sure justice is served?–if you don’t want a priest or spouse to testify against you, try not committing crimes).

    I kind of want to witness someone do something this despicable to see if I can excoriate the wretched excuse for a human without stumbling over my outrage and not feeling badly for having been mean afterward (it’s a problem of mine–I’m working on it).


    • Andrew Kohler

      Oh, according to Doris above they *could* read the name. Well, that does change things. :-/ It does seem there should be some expectation of privacy on receipts/financial stuff, so I partially rescind some of my rantings above and concede, grudgingly, that the action of publicizing this receipt with the name wasn’t really cool (had the name been blocked out and the location of the restaurant concealed, however….)

      But, the rest of my rantings I stand by. :-P

      • Andrew Kohler

        And clearly I didn’t read the name; I thought it was a dude pastor! How nice that we have gender equality in some denominations, so that women are empowered to be the same sanctimonious, authoritarian dirtbags, devoid of all compassion, as their male counterparts. (In all seriousness, I do think women and men should have the same right to behave reprehensibly, and that they should be equally condemned and shunned.)

      • Andrew Kohler

        Only a friend JUST told me that you can request to have a mandatory tip removed if your server was hostile and/or incompetent (for example, by refusing to take your order when taking everyone else’s in your party, as has happened to him–people are weird).

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Your use of the word “excoriate” has brightened my morning.

      • Andrew Kohler

        I am to please ;-)

        • Andrew Kohler

          That was supposed to be “aim.” But, I suppose I can say comfortably that my very being and existence (as suggested by “am”) is to please.

          • Loqi

            I liked the original better. I’m stealing it.

  • Juicyheart

    What even more hilarious, is that the pastor didn’t even stiff the server. That was his intent but the tip was already included in the bill. I’m not sure what the pastor is upset about: How this displays his cluelessness or his lack of compassion. And what’s the big deal about someone reinvesting their I come into their own racket? Why is that such a sacrifice? I don’t get it.

    • Art Vandelay

      I think she did really stiff the server actually. 18% of $34.93 is $6.29 so the bill is actually $41.22 (plus any additional tip which was obviously out of the question). I don’t think they can pull $41.22 from that bank account if the customer only authorized $34.93.

      • Glodson

        This is true. And in my experience, when we add a tip to a bill, the truth is that the customer is under no obligation to actually pay it. The vast majority do. When I first started waiting tables, some would hide the fact we added the gratuity to a bill in the attempt to get a double tip. But most restaurants now have systems that make this much harder to do.

  • Courtney

    What the pastor wrote was absolutely idiotic and incredibly insulting. We seem to be seeing a lot of these lately – if it’s not people blaming a lack of tip on ObamaCare, it’s people justifying their cheapness with religion. I love that these things are being brought to light so that we can see the kind of idiocy religion brings about.

    I do have to say that posting any sort of identifying information (no matter how vague you think it is) about one of your customers is freaking stupid and most certainly a fire-able offense at ANY company. That would be like if a customer called and cussed me out (I supervise a call center), so I found their Facebook page and posted it to Reddit (BTW, if you are an asshole to a CS Rep, you better believe they’re looking up your online persona and laughing at you).

    She should have blurred out the signature (minus the “Pastor” part). She’d still have a job and her point would have been just as valid.

  • Epinephrine

    Sorry, but posting personal information is a fire-able offense. The pastor was completely out of line, but so was the employee. Two wrongs don’t make a right; the pastor is not accountable to anyone for her behaviour (though she may think she is?), but the employee is, and got a fairly appropriate punishment. Nobody can claim that they didn’t anticipate it being shared if they post it to Reddit. That’s the point of Reddit.

  • eric

    “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?”

    Why don’t you pay property tax?

  • Anne

    A friend of mine works in PR for a large nationally-known company. Last night on Facebook, he posed the question, “What should Applebee’s have done?” It’s easy to say in hindsight that the pastor got what she deserved for being a sanctimoniously stingy and awful human being who ignores how wait staff derive their incomes. However, what got Chelsea fired was that she posted a customer’s ticket, with the signature showing, on one of the most widely-read websites in the world.

    Even if she thought the signature was unreadable – and when you know the pastor’s name the signature is VERY readable – Chelsea could have blurred that or cropped most of the signature out. When she was advised that she had violated reddit’s TOS by posting identifiable information, she later did crop the image. But because of how the Internet works – nothing posted there is ever really gone – the shitstorm was inevitable when the post hit the front page of reddit. So not only was the pastor’s legible signature posted on one of the most widely-read websites in the world, it was posted on one of the most-read pages on the entire Interwebz.

    None of those involved – not Chelsea, not the pastor, and not Applebee’s – could have anticipated what happened next. We talk about stuff going viral all the time, but when you consider the number of people on the planet, the number of things each of those people say and do in a single day, and the actual odds of it happening, the probability of something going viral is only slightly higher than spotting a Higgs boson.

    Now, Chelsea has said that she was not aware of any company policy requiring anonymity of Applebee’s guests. I’m willing to suggest that when one dines in a public location, one is foregoing anonymity. At the same time, the signature on those little slips of paper that permit money to be withdrawn from our bank accounts or charged to our credit cards should be guarded jealously by those we entrust with them. Chelsea did not reveal the card number (most receipts hide that number anyway), but the signature was there for all to see, including those familiar with the pastor’s signature.

    Chelsea blew it. Did Applebee’s over-react? Probably. Notice that I don’t say “definitely.” Their reaction occurred after the post went viral. Had the post not gone viral, chances are good Chelsea would still be waiting tables at Applebee’s. Had the post not gone viral, neither the pastor nor Applebee’s may ever have known about it. But Chelsea did violate the sanctity of that jealously-guarded and very important little piece of paper.

    Personally, I would have liked for Applebee’s to say, “Yeah, that customer was a complete fuckhead. Fuck her. But don’t do that again, Chelsea, or we’ll have to fire you.” I want to think that without the shitstorm of a viral post, that’s what would have happened.

    Should the rules change when the full power of public opinion on the Internet is invoked in all its viral glory? I’d like to think not. What Chelsea did was no more or less wrong just because a couple of million people now know about it.

    So, yes, I think Applebee’s probably overreacted. But it doesn’t deserve to be boycotted for that reason.

    It deserves to be boycotted because it is cutting employees’ hours to avoid providing them with medical insurance, because it’s a shitty company, and – although I’ve only ever eaten there once so I probably should n’t make a sweeping generalization – because its food sucks.

  • Glodson

    My server rage is tingling.

    That happens often, sadly. A side effect of working for years in a restaurant. First, let’s look at the stupid argument that is stupid because it is stupid. God asks for 10% off the top of your wages. The server asks for 18%(likely a portion of that is paid out to a tip pool for bussers/hosts/bartenders, which often gets paid out of the servers total sales, regardless if a particular table left a tip or not). Not of the pastor’s income, but of the bill. So no, she and God aren’t asking for the same thing. Even if I buy into the religious narrative, the fact remains that the pastor is just a cheap jerk refusing to pay for a service. In effect, that pastor stole the service given by the server by denying compensation. I’m sure God frowns on stealing. That might be one of those sin things I hear so much about.

    Worse, if there is a tip pool as mentioned above, the server actually paid to wait on that pastor. In the last gig I had waiting tables, the tip out was around 3% of our sales. So the server paid about $1.05 to wait on this pastor.

    I guess if you think that god’s command for a tithe excuses you from tipping the people serving you food, just pray for the orders to go through and pray for the food to be cooked and pray for it to be brought to you without bothering us. If you aren’t going to pay us for our time and effort, you can just rely on your god. Tell me how well that feeds you.

    As a side note: fuck Sunday lunches. I would rather work any shift other than that, not just because I was often hungover.

    • iknklast

      You’ve touched on one of the things that bothers me most: I want my tips to be a bonus to the server, not their salary. Originally it was that way (a long, long time ago). The restaurant should be paying their salary, period. Then, any tips become the FULL and COMPLETE property of the person we intend them for. The restaurant shouldn’t get a penny of the tip (though apparently some do). If they want to split the tip between cooks, etc, that is one thing, but if there is no tip left, the server should not be responsible for paying part of the salary of the cook, etc.

      I burn every time I leave a tip, knowing that it is not really a nice little extra reward for a good server, but instead is essentially me paying the server after already having paid for my meal. I hate that the people who wait on me at restaurants are stiffed. I try to go to places that give their employees the best deal (and I never eat at Applebees), but sometimes it’s hard to be sure.

      I would love to see Congress set aside reaffirming In God We Trust on our money, and working on getting some of that money into the hands of the people who work and pay and serve. Remove the minimum wage exemptions on restaurants. Then, of course, we need to find some way of penalizing restaurants who cut back staff to avoid the cost – possibly by not patronizing them. Of course, if they cut back too much on staff, that might happen naturally, because service will start to become terrible, and people will quit eating at a place where they’re not getting service.

      We treat these hard working waiters almost like they’re freeloaders, getting something for nothing. That just floors me. I’ve never waited tables, but I’ve worked fast food, and I know that the restaurant business is anything but a walk in the park. It’s just plain hard work.

      • Glodson

        I don’t mind tipping out to the hosts and bussers so much. We all have to work together to make the money, and they have a vested interest in keeping us busy so we’ll make money and they’ll make money too.

        But part of the problem is that we get paid so little. Most know we only get 2.13, at least as of 2009 when I finally stopped here in Texas, an hour. In fact, I believe the hosts and bussers get about the same rate. Less than minimum wage with the expectation that our tips, or tip share, will take us over that threshold. Actually, it is calculated for a week, so even on a day when we make next to nothing, as long as the trend for a pay period is greater than that rate, we are not due any extra compensation.

        I would say that if you are tipping a decent server around 15-20%, you are paying us well. But one thing that I’ll say from my own experience is this: being treated with respect is a must. I’m not saying you have to do it to a crappy server, but if you got someone taking care of you, don’t treat us like crap. After my first year waiting tables, that was something I remembered long after I had forgotten the crappy tip. Also, if you have a server that is doing a poor job, let someone know. Don’t just stiff them. I was a great server, I know this because I won shit for being a great server. But crappy servers drive our business away. Let the management know. Just stiffing someone does nothing but saves you a few bucks and makes a return to that restaurant a really bad idea.

  • some old nobodaddy

    The pastor was a woman. She is also African-american. I wonder how many people, when they first heard of this story, assumed (like JT) that the pastor was a white male.

    I live in a city where the biggest evangelical bigot is Ken Hutcherson, also an African-american. Bigotry & hate can come from any race, any gender, any creed. Which is sad. But true.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Oh you too know the absolute travesty that is Ken Hutcherson–my condolences. Nothing more than a bully with a megaphone.

  • Anonymous

    You probably assumed these things because of this bad image you have of pastors. They’re all old, white, male and corrupt. You’d think it would be obvious that this isn’t true but yet here we are…I sense stereotyping. As a Christian I can say that it’s obvious that what happened was wrong. First of all it bothers me that the pastor, who should be preaching God, decided to be selfish and not pay the full tip (which really wasn’t that bad) and then tried to justify it using God’s name. Then of course the waitress decided she would post it on the internet which was also wrong because her intent could have been no other then to ridicule this person. Sure, she didn’t mean to identify them but she still put it on the internet for everyone to see as if she’s never done something selfish before. Let’s face it, they were both in the wrong.

    • Nate Frein

      The pastor literally cost the server money for the “privilege ” of serving her party. Ridiculing her was about the only thing the server could do. The only mistake the server made was not blurring the signature.

      Public ridicule of shameful actions is a perfectly reasonable response.