February 1, 2013 | 11:00am
A server at a St. Louis Applebee's served a large party, which caused the restaurant's point-of-sale system to kick in an automated 18 percent tip.
This didn't sit well with Pastor Alois Bell
of Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church (what is it about certain churches that makes them string together random nouns as a name?), who paid the bill
, crossed out the automatic tip, wrote a big fat goose egg on the "additional tip" line, and left a preachy note saying, "I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?"
The server showed it to her colleague, Chelsea Welch, who got angry and put a photo of the receipt on the swirling online maelstrom known as Reddit. Specifically, she put it in the Atheism sub-Reddit, where it was as chum to a pool of sharks. Predictably, it went viral.
Unfortunately for Welch, Bell found out about it, and she complained to Applebee's management [note that some stories have Pastor Bell's gender wrong: she is a woman]. Applebee's apologized to Bell and fired Welch.
Now, should Welch have posted the photo? Not as is. At least scrub the identifying marks, as tempting as it is to shame people into doing the right thing by embarrassing them online.
The real problem here, though, is Bell, who seems shocked that the Internet would take any interest in her tipping practices.
Incidentally, the website The Smoking Gun
says that Bell claims to have left $6 in cash
on the table. Really? This entire episode, in which someone got fired and another person has the gnashing teeth of the Internet Morality Police at her church's doorstep, was over twenty-nine lousy cents
? Forgive me if I find that a little bit hard to believe.
If you can't afford to pay the tip--which is a service charge, for all that some of you would love to make it into a gift you can deign to bestow or withhold according to your own royal prerogative--then you can't afford to eat in the restaurant. If you don't like it, then at least tell your server up front so she can have the management--who don't get to partake in tips--wait on you.
Stiffing your server is bad enough. Stiffing your server without talking to the manager is worse. Stiffing your server on a tip added automatically by a policy that's clearly printed on the menu is just this side of criminal, and stiffing your server using God as an excuse makes you a bad example and an embarrassment to those of us Christians who don't feel the need to use our religion as a club to hurt other people.
Why does Bell's un-named server get 18 percent? Because you're supposed to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's. Nowhere in the Gospel of St. Matthew does it say that God gets the greatest portion of her income, as evidenced by Bell's income tax returns.
It's a shame more fundamentalist churches don't go in for the Sacrament of Penance, because Bell has some serious penance to do.
And one more time, for the I-got-mine troglodytes out there trying to put the English words together to tell me to go to Hell: if you're going to leave a penny less than 15 percent as a tip, you need to speak to a manager to tell them why you felt the service was sub-standard. No exceptions. Ever.