Christians, Tip Your Waitstaff

Christians, Tip Your Waitstaff

Anyone who has ever waited tables for a living, knows what it's like working for tips. A standard tip is 15% of the total bill, drinks included. That means if a bill is $75, you'll get about $11 for a tip. If you work four tables per hour on a busy weekend, you'll do okay. Not great, but okay.

But if you work at a place where a bill runs $30 for a table (or less), you'll make half as much. If you make $5 per table, you're going to have trouble making a decent living. You'll barely be making a living wage — about $500 per week, if you're consistent — which is fine if you're young and single and have three roommates, but it's an awful way to make a living if you're older or have a family.

So you can imagine one server's delight when he saw what he thought was a $10 bill sticking out from underneath a plate after he had finished serving a group of people. He was rather excited, because $10 is a decent tip.

You can also imagine his disappointment when he pulled out the bill and found that it wasn't real money at all.

Rather, it was a religious tract made to look like a $10 bill. On the back, it said "some things are better than money, like your eternal salvation, that was bought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross."

No money, no actual tip. No socially acceptable form of gratitude to show the appreciation for what the server had done for them. Just a religious tract that is otherwise handed out to people for free.

Needless to say, the guy was offended. It is a socially accepted practice that if you go out to a sit-down restaurant, you leave a tip. That's the way the restaurant industry works. Servers get paid around $2.65 per hour, and need tips to pay their rent, keep the lights on, and eat real food.

This server was so angry, he took pictures of the tract, and posted it to a photo sharing blog, including, "I have never been more atheist."

When you steal from a server — because that's what you do when you don't tip at restaurants— it does not help him find Jesus when you drive him further away from Jesus.

Christians and church-goers do not have a reputation for being great tippers. In fact, we have a reputation for being awful tippers. So much so, that waitstaff at restaurants everywhere hate working the Sunday lunch service.

Why? Because they work just as hard and bust their butts just as much on Sundays as they do every other day. But they make a fraction of what they make those days, because when people start flocking to restaurants after church, they swarm in like a plague of locusts, eating everything in sight, and leaving nothing.

As someone who has waited tables, I can tell you that every dollar makes a difference in that server's day. For some, it's the difference between paying rent or being late. It's the difference between eating real food for dinner, or eating Ramen noodles, or some days, eating leftovers from the restaurant kitchen again.

And when you can make more working lunch on a slow Monday than on a busy Sunday, that's pretty pitiful. It does not say much about Christians, when we are constantly being admonished to be generous and giving.

"We don't believe in people working on Sundays," is a common excuse from the non-tippers. If they really believed in people not working on Sundays, they wouldn't go out to eat and create the demand.

Waiters and waitresses work hard for a living. They slog out hours and hours of backbreaking work, carrying food out to people who barely acknowledge their existence, praying they don't screw anything up, all in the hopes that the people will show a little bit of monetary gratitude.

It's very simple. If you don't believe in tipping, don't eat at sit-down restaurants; eat the food where you can order it from your car. If you can't afford a tip, don't go out to eat. That is the way the service industry works, and if you can't go through life without screwing someone out of their wages, don't go. Period.

Because the non-tipping Christians are giving the rest of us a bad name. And if you're trying to teach people about the man who taught generosity and giving, you're failing miserably.

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  1. Thanks Erik. I've heard this before and it frustrates me every time. Some Christians drop the "Christian" label because they are sick of fighting through the stereotypes of being lazy, hypocritical and cheap. None of us are perfect, but for those out there who aren't regularly demonstrating what the Bible calls the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control), just drop the "Christian" title for everyone's sake. Use "church goer" or something else. Don't make it difficult for the rest of us to have real, meaningful relationships with our atheist friends.

  2. As far as I am concerned stiffing your waitstaff under any circumstances is just a flat out lousy thing to do! Even if the service is awful, I never leave nothing. I'll leave a small tip, and I will speak to the server and tell him/her WHY he got a small tip. I will also talk to the manager if it was truly horrid. But for a normal, hard-working, pleasant server, it's a minimum of 20% and 25% for out standing service. It's not rocket science, I can't understand how anyone could justify not leaving a gratuity AND a heartfelt thank you to the server! Christian? If that is a Christian act, I'll become a Druid! (No offense intended to any Druids still lingering out there!)

  3. Christians are taught that, to be a "good Christian," you have to stop sinning. Since we're all sinners, this simply is not possible. So, to exist without massive guilt, Christians develop complex justification systems in their minds. Just lusted after that woman in line? She is the guilty one for wearing those clothes. Just lied about being sick to get the day off from work? I'll spend time reading the Bible today, which God would prefer to me working. On and on it goes, until stiffing a waiter by leaving a tract instead of cash is easily justified by declaring that salvation is more important than money.

    This not only creates a terrible impression to non-Christians, it also pushes Christians out of the church who are unwilling to do these mental tricks and are disgusted to see it in other Christians. "By their fruits shall you know them" today simply means if you see someone doing evil with a smile, there's a good chance they're a Christian.

    I give Christianity 50 years at best until it's faded away into a mythological system in line with the Greek gods.

  4. Great post Erik. Having worked as a server myself for a period of time I couldn't agree more. I usually tip very well and extend quite a bit of grace to servers. I think the other "tip" to leave for many Christians is to also remember you're being a witness for something. You're either helping or hurting the efforts, keep that in mind.

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