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Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Society | 21 comments

Did You Hear the One About the Angry Pastor and the Restaurant Server Who Went Viral?

My buddy, Steve Sjogren, first alerted me to the image of a receipt on which a pastor refused to leave a tip because she already gave 10% to God. He suggested I might want to blog on the story.

Since then, I’ve learned more of the details:

A Friday night meal at Applebee’s resulted in more than either the
customer or a waitress working that night bargained for after a pastor’s
refusal to pay a tip was shared online.

Though the embarrassed patron has apologized for her actions, the old
adage of the customer always being right may have some truth to it, as
the waitress who posted photo evidence of the tip snub lost her job for
doing so.

The trouble began last Friday, when Pastor Alois Bell went to the
local chain restaurant with several others following a service at Truth
in the World Deliverance Ministries.

When the bill came, she did not include a tip on the signed copy of her receipt. She did, however, include the reason why.

“I give God 10 [percent],” the note on the receipt read. “Why do you get 18?”

The waitress, who has been identified only as Chelsea by The Consumerist,
posted a picture of the note on the popular user-powered news site
Reddit, along with the caption, “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay
for my rent and groceries.”

“I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” she told The
Consumerist. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical.
I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it

Her post instantly got the attention of other users, and eventually
the news media. The popular story also got back to its source – Bell –
on Wednesday, though she was less amused than others who had seen it
before her. She called the Applebee’s where she had eaten to voice her
frustration over the sharing of the image, which includes her signature.

Chelsea was fired by managers at the restaurant following the call,
despite reportedly being a model employee before this incident…

In an interview with The Smoking Gun,
Bell apologized for her actions, which she described as “lapse in [her]
character and judgment,” adding that she did leave a $6 cash tip on the
table for the waitress who served them that night – who was not

“My heart is really broken,” she was quoted as saying. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”

Is billing customers 18% for tips a good policy? Probably not and probably not smart either. While many restaurant patrons are no doubt cheap, inconsiderate of the hard work done by servers and other restaurant personnel, a customer alienated because of a set charge for tips is not likely to return, meaning no business and no tips.

Was Applebee’s right in firing the server? Probably. Whether it was in the company manual or not, she seems to have willfully violated the privacy of another person for what she characterizes as a lighthearted prank. It hardly seems that.

Was the pastor wrong to refuse to pay the tip and to do so invoking both God and her calling as a pastor? I feel so. I also think that she was right to apologize.

Here’s a look at the receipt and Pastor Bell’s note.

The entire incident evokes all sorts of thoughts and feelings from me.

[Read the entire post here. Warning: The rest of the post is overtly Christian, based on my reactions as a Christian pastor to an incident involving a Christian pastor.]