Tip Drill: 5 Lessons In Tipping From A Fired Applebees Waitress And A Cheap Pastor

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Last week, I read a funny-but-real story about the plight of the American waitress. The waitress in this story was doing her normal (I’m sure excellent) job serving a group at Applebees. One of these patrons happened to be Pastor Alois Bell. Their meal was completed and it was time to pay. At this Applebees (sidebar: T.G.I. Fridays >> but that’s for another discussion), as with many establishments, an 18% tip was included in the bill. The Pastor, who obviously looks to scripture in every situation, proceeded to cross out the 18%, put a ZERO, and then leave this Jesus gem on the receipt:

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Chelsea Welsh, a waitress who works there (and wasn’t serving the Pastor), decided to post the receipt on Reddit for sh*ts and giggles, and the story went SUPER viral! It got back to the Pastor and Welsh was fired! I found the entire story hilarious, but that got me and my friends to visit the subject of tipping in restaurants. I have my own thoughts based on this fiasco and tipping in general. Walk with me:

The Pastor Was Cheap As Hell

I’m as religious as the next person, but using God as an excuse for not showing common restaurant etiquette is tasteless. There is scripture that says you give 10% to the Lord, but isn’t there also scriptures about being honorable, respecting your fellow man, etc? In fact, in that same broad reference to the 10%, don’t they mention a little line about “giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s?” No, I’m not referencing a lost episode of Spartacus, I’m using that to highlight how the Bible can be used to offer both point and counterpoint. We pay our taxes and our fair share, and etiquette wise, that fair share extends to waitresses and other servers in restaurants.

The Waitress Should Have Been Fired

I agree that it was funny to put the receipt on the Internet. Lord knows I’ve put up my fair share of slanderous material. However, you have to think twice and act once before placing these types of items online. Receipts do contain personal identifiable information (PII), which can be used in credit card scams. At least block out the name and last four of the credit card number to eliminate that possibility. You see this often when individuals post pictures of cars with the license plate number on full display. Unless that person is running insurance scams, that’s a PII violation as well! I would’ve also posted it under an anonymous name. I wonder if someone snitched on her? Anyway, putting up that type of information from your job carries those consequences and if you take that risk, you do have to be man/woman enough to accept the fate. The pastor getting her fired was foul, but I can’t fault Applebees for their P.R. move.

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I Hate Dining With Large Groups Of People For This Very Reason

One of these days, I’m going to write a collection of short stories about the horrors of eating at any establishment with a group of people. Especially when there’s one check between 10 or more people. One of these situations is most likely to occur:

  • Everyone will claim to put in their fair share, but the bill will come up short anyway
  • The bill will come up short, NOT including tip
  • At least 5-7 people will want to pay with credit card at the same damn time
  • There will be a discrepancy between what people said they ordered and what’s on the bill, and “clearly” the waitress miscalculated the order
  • 2-3 people will end up putting in double what they paid
  • One person will end up paying ½ of what they ordered.

When you dine in large numbers, you get a clash in personalities and values. You’ll get people who feel 18% for a tip is cool. You’ll get some who never tip. You’ll get others who are indifferent. This will directly reflect in how people pay when the bill arrives. It creates an unnecessary headache for those who tip because you don’t want to shade the servers, yet you don’t want to carry the balance of the bill. I know some of you will retort “don’t go out to eat with shady people,” but this can occur even with friends you think would have more sense.

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Is it Ever Acceptable To Not Tip?

I waver on this from time to time. I’ve wanted to tip a waiter/waitress less than what is “acceptable” to reflect what I felt was subpar service. I usually follow tipping guidelines as shown HERE.  I remember not wanting to tip a waitress and watched as she ran up on another customer asking about her service because she got a shitty tip (pause). I think that’s why most places just add the gratuity now. Should there ever be a time when you don’t tip?

I think you should tip in 99.9% of all circumstances. The 0.01%  where you don’t tip should only happen if you have beyond horrible service. The type of service that makes you go on Facebook and write a 4 page status. This is rare and I wouldn’t expect that restaurant to get paid for the meal, let alone tipping a waiter! If you get OK service, leave an OK tip within accepted parameters. Which brings me to my next point:

If You Can’t Afford To be Gratuitous, Stay Your Ass at Home

The last thing we need is for your cheap restaurant etiquette to embarass us in public. Tipping is a part of American culture (I know it’s different elsewhere). If you can’t conform then hit up McDonalds or Chipotle. Unless you were born into money, a lot of parents and grandparents out there were servants in one way or another. Those are tough jobs, and people deal with some real BS in their day. If they can provide good service and make your dining experience better, why not tip and show your love in the gratuity slot on that receipt?

These are some of my thoughts on the issue. We took the discussion to Twitter and asked “Is there ever a time when you shouldn’t tip at a restaurant?” Here are some responses:

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Interesting Stuff. Can’t wait to see what you all think!

StreetZ

When is there ever a time when you shouldn’t tip? Have you dealt with some of the issues above? What’s acceptable gratuity to you?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @singleblackmale for more discussion, polls, and awesome randomness!

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  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    I always tip, even if she pays I’ll be sure to put just the tip in *cue rimshot*. Even if the service is less than stellar i’ll tip and pretend that they will see and feel guilty about bringing me the wrong drink and acting like they ain’t see me ask for the check. Don’t wanna tip, grab food to go. You temporarily lodged in a restaurant occupied a Booth or table, took service away from another potential customer, don’t be rude n ish. Oh and I always do 15%, and will calculate it in my head, some women are impressed others think this ninja a nerd *shrug life*

  • ORH

    Tipping is part of dining. 15% for subpar service, 18% for good and 20% for great. If you don't want to tip then go to Five Guys.

  • http://twitter.com/el_botin_negro @el_botin_negro

    I always tip generally well, unless I get horrible service…in which case then I tip 1% just so they know I didn't forget to tip but that's all they getting. In the case of the service not being poor, I go from 20% to as high as equaling the cost of my meal! But I also never tip using my card, always slash through the tip area on the receipt…..this is because a cash tip is preferred, a tip from on a credit/debit card gets taxed.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

      I never knew that….I hate carrying cash on me tho

  • Dr. J

    I wrote about this during my time back on Buppie the Blog.

    If there is a time when you feel you shouldn't tip, a few things should have already happened that would preclude you from having to make that choice. In all the times, I would have not tipped, I spoke to the manager and not only was the tip not included but the entire bill was handled. The service has to be THAT bad. If you're deciding not to tip because of bad service, that's a passive aggressive BS way of handling the real issue.

    Other than that, I tip 15, 18 or 20 depending on the service and what's ordered. I only tip 15% when I feel the service staff didn't really have to do too much work, 20% is typically custom for me just because it's easier to do the math in my head.

    I hate eating in groups, but have found by being proactive you can actually keep the situation from getting out of hand. I serve as the Trustee almost always. The thing that most people do not account for is that if 18% gratuity is already added, they don't have the option to tip 15% or not tip at all. Also, many people do not factor in the tax that's include on the bill as well. I know it sucks but you'll need to add about 28% to your bill in some cases. Also, if there's any issues about who had what, the waiter will typically know, but if someone has been drinking or is just flat out grimy, I just tell them that they have no choice they have to pay and I put them on front street so everyone knows. I've even had the circumstance when someone ate, drank and got the bill and pulled the, "I wasn't planning on spending that much today."

    "It's dishes in the sink, you gotta roll up your sleeves."

    A few other tips I have:
    1) Go to places like Vapianos where everyone pays for their own meal with the meal card, but you can sit together. There are plenty of places where you order at a counter but they bring the food to your table.
    2) Break large groups into smaller paying groups to avoid the credit card overload, but also so that you're only dining with people you feel comfortable paying with. I do this on the low and nobody but my friends and I know it. I always break off a check into groups of 3 or 4.
    3) Have a discussion up front to avoid confusion. I'm not opposed to saying up front, hey we're going to just split everything down the middle, so don't get crazy with your orders and drinks. THIS solves a lot of confusion later on because everyone knows there ain't going to be no arguing later on.

    • H.H.H.

      i also tip 20% normally when i eat out. it's just quicker to do the math. only 18% if the service was horrible to me, and since i'm very laid back, i usually don't notice bad service.

      good idea with those tips you gave. especially in big groups, having that convo is a good idea.

      and of course, if you're a person that will only leave a decent tip when wait-staff jump through hoops? you probably dont need to be eating out.

    • Southerngyrl_

      Cosign to the whole thing. I have rarely had service so bad that I thought about giving no tip at all. If it was that bad, someone was told about it before I left.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    Also, if he felt the 18% was too high he could’ve left 10….5….a dollar, ninjas just cheap

  • Smilez-920

    1)If I’m to the point where a tip is not going to be given I’ve probably already spoken to the manager of the establishment, and on top of not tipping the waiter I’m more than likely getting something taken off of my bill.
    2)15% is the minimum if you’re outstanding; I’ll add extra on to the tip and encourage everyone else at the table to do so.
    3)I try not to go out to eat with more than 4 people smh. It’s funny how everybody is a baller , everyone been to Mr. Chows, has 200 dollar bags/shoes etc… But when the bill comes to the table they pinch pennies like pirates. After about 18 19 years old you should know that when you go out with a group of 5 or more people, too bring extra money with you. Your extra money goes towards the gratuity and the tax. So if your meal and drink was 20 dollars you should at least automatically put down 25.
    4)Same thing when you’re at the bar for happy hour or whatever, if the bar tender makes you a drink at least leave a dollar or something once your tab is done.

    • MaggK

      "It’s funny how everybody is a baller , everyone been to Mr. Chows, has 200 dollar bags/shoes etc… But when the bill comes to the table they pinch pennies like pirates."

      LMAO u made my whole day! That's SO TRUE! I can't with people!!!

  • Southerngyrl_

    I usually get pretty good service. Honestly, I think a lot of times it is location. I get great service when I am here in the South. When my brother-in-law and sister come to visit, he is always amazed how friendly and helpful people are here.

    I think the worst thing about group dining is divvying up the bill and people who don't tip at all. What is up with that? I think after a certain age it is common knowledge. I also agree that if you don't have the money to tip, don't go out to eat, or maybe go to a fast food joint instead.

    I hate to say it, but unfortunately there is a stereotype about black people and tipping. I have never worked as a waitress so I can't say if there is a smidge of truth to it. I have encountered a few of these people though.

  • Joe Sargent

    I never tipped until I delievered pizza for Domino's. Definitely earned an appreciation then. My mentality became basically what was laid out above: 'if I'm sitting down and having food brought to my mouth, I should tip the person who's doing that for me.'

    This all happened at 17/18…so learned pretty early.

  • MaggK

    Tipping is a very american thing that's true, but at the same time it makes sense to tip, it's supa cheap no to tip come on…
    In Canada for example waiters and waitresses are paid less than the minimum rate because they can make so much with the tip. If they don't receive any tip, they're screwed!
    I'm French and everytime i go to France i feel SO bad because we simply don't tip (plus the shitty french attitude olala poor waitresses). So everytime my french friends come visit me here, before going out i explain to them "We are in America, you tip!!!"
    I personnally always tip… Even if the service is bad… I mean she or he probably is tired or had a hard time with some customers (yall can be some pain in the a** hum hum)… I'm very understanding!!! If you think the service was THAT bad, go make a complain to the manager, but still, TIP :D!!

    • Streetz

      I gave a dude a 20 euro tip. my cab driver in Paris. son was like "monsiuer?!?!?!?!?!" I started crying and told him hold dat! Funny what different cultures do

      • MaggK

        LMAO!!!

    • fashionbeautiesmsc

      In Canada (where i'm from) it is illegal to be paid less than minimum wage, so you're statement is untrue in that respect. I will say that Canadians are proven to be very generous tippers in general though.

      • MaggK

        Actually… In Quebec and Ontario they are paid less (don't know about the other provinces)… But it's not illegal: people who, as a regular part of their duties, serve liquor directly to customers have a minimum wage lower than other people's.
        And even though i'm almost always in NYC, my home is in Montreal, i know what i'm talking about :)!

  • *Yoles*

    i always tip with the exception of buffet style restaurants then i really don't want to if i went & got my own plate and food etc. i tend to tip 15% and 20%. when going out in large groups i do say upfront "i don't mess around and embarrass myself come paying time so the bill is just divided tax and tip included". i also don't tip once gratuity has been added unless the service was so much fun and friendly and cute that i wanna lay a few more bucks on the table.

    i haven't had a going out in a group how do we split the check issue since i graduated college

  • J. Crawford

    I used to be a waiter at a buffet restaurant and Fridays back when it was $2.13/hr. A Majority of people DID tip, but it was from $1 (the Very Least) to $5 (the Average Most). I got $2-$3 tip probably 90% of the time; Sometimes I got $8, $10, $15, or any arbitrary amount. The most I got outside a group or coordinating with another waiter was $40. I didn't have to do much to Not get a Tip or get th bare minimum, and that was working for Both types of Restaurants.

    I as a Customer was different than I as a Waiter; I USED to tip $4-$10 to a Waiter/Waitress, regardless if they ware Good or Bad because $2.13/hr is Crap. That's basically a Hooker-One Thing Specialty Rate (Ya'll know what I mean), and As a Waiter I sympathized. It's an Unoffical Fraternity among Waiters/Waitresses (at least I and the Waiters/Waitresses I've encounter believe). NOW that I'm no longer one and due to Seeing/Hearing and Average Service I've reduced my tipping to depend on How Long I gotta Wait for My drink, food, and to get the Check (also if I have Other People with me).

  • OhMyGodYes

    I think tipping has gotten ridiculous. You have to tip EVERYBODY now: your beautician, the cab driver, flower delivery person, food delivery person, bus boy at the buffet, the mark that did your eyebrows, the nail tech, masseuse. It’s crazy because in a lot of cases you are paying someone extra for doing the job you ALREADY paid them to do. I get the waitress thing, they get paid less wages, but all these other fools need to keep they hands out my pocket.

    • J. Crawford

      I don't Tip by Default- unless it's part of the FInal Bill (gratuity)

    • Smilez_920

      Just like you tip the car wash people, it's a service and you do it in good faith. You don't have to do it but if you have it to spare, it’s nice. Just like waitresses, those tips help with people personal income. You might pay the hairdresser 50 dollars for your hair, she has to pay chair rent or if she owns the shop rent, utilities , hair products she uses on your head, so her income is what she takes after all of those things are handled. So the extra 3 – 10 bucks is helpful.

  • Uncle Hugh, BP

    I'm usually a generous tipper. When restaurants add automatic gratuities, they usually end up playing themselves. Typically I give 18% for standard service, 21-25% for great service, then rounded up to the next dollar.

    This "pastor" should be ashamed. If the service was really that bad, then just don't leave a tip. Writing that comment just showed that she is an certified a$$hole.

  • krystllyght

    After eating out with my grandparents nearly every Sunday for most of my life, I pretty much took it as a rule to always tip so it has never been a question whether I should or not. When I get what I perceive as normal service I give a normal tip but if i get awesome service, I give a better tip and be sure to note on the receipt how much I enjoyed the experience or at least put a smiley face on there! lol
    I had a friend who told me about a time she and her husband received awful service so they just decided not to give a tip. The waitress followed them to their car and told them they forgot it and demanded her tip! I guess that scared them so they gave her a tip and sped away. Hilarious!

    • krystllyght

      Also, that Pastor ought to be ashamed of himself. He gives God 10% of his INCOME, the tip was only 18% of a MEAL, nowhere near the same. It's funny you posted this today because my hubs and I were just talking about it last night.

      • Smilez_920

        I'm sorry but if the waitress follows me or my parents outside the only tip she's going to get is the tip of my foot up her ( fill in with whatever word you like). They should have reported her to the manger, got her fired and threaten to pres harassment charges just for the heck of it.

        But maybe they just took the higher road and left.

  • Streetz

    This doesn't just extend to restaurants either…

    As a young kid I didnt tuip my barber. Son got the exact price. I wasnt working nothign crazy so dudes knew it wasnt intentional. It wasnt until I got into a conversation with my barber on how people dont tip and haggle over prices, that I thought to myself "yeah I need to step up". I give $20 for my cuts to my dude now no matter what Im getting. They do a nominal service so I salute in point.

  • Streetz

    Let me also just throw this quick chair:

    Does race, sex, or creed have anything to do with how people tip? Do you expect _____ people to tip better than ___ 's ?

  • Suni

    This may sound corny, but I looove tipping. It helps that I used to be a waitress. :)

    I had the unfortunate experience of dining at Applebee's with fiddy-leven folks I didn't know thanks to my younger brother last Saturday.

    Long story.

    Anyway, it was suuuper busy–the party in front of us had 25 folks in it–and we sat for over an hour until our food came. One of the guys at our table began getting obnoxious with our server, and I knew then she pretty much wasted an evening tip wise since just about everyone had stank faces. He complained to the manager who said it was the combination of an understaffed kitchen and a busy day, but gave us our meals free. I tipped the very sweet girl $30 since I knew she wasn't getting anything from anyone but myself and my brother at our table.

    If the scenario were different (just myself and a couple of friends), I try to tip at least $10 even though my meals generally come to about $15-$20 depending on where I'm going. I'm not rich by any means, but really, it's just a few extra dollars. Might as well make someone's day.

    I've never had an experience with an outright terrible waiter/waitress before, but I'd probably just give them 15%. By terrible I mean I overheard him or her call me a n*igger and made me wait 45 minutes for water, lol.

    As for the "pastor"…it's folks like these that make me understand why many people say they don't like Christians. I can't speak for fellow Christians, but I hope experiences like these don't come to be complete turn-offs.

  • Naija

    I consider myself a decent and sometimes generous tipper; however, I don't think it is my or anyone else's business to decide what the next person should tip. If a person gets subpar service, decides to tip 5% instead of 15-25%, and opts not to speak with the manager instead, that's strictly their prerogative. Personally, I can't be bothered to set time aside from my meal or night to have a chat with you or your manager unless I've had an atrocious experience. I still, deep down inside, do not believe that a tip of any amount should automatically be expected by a server.

    The customary tip in Canada is 15% (I believe, anyway), which I usually give at a minimum. Sometimes, I just feel like dropping specific dollar amount, and it ends up working out to 20%+. It's whatever.

  • Great tipper

    What I see here, is that the pastor probably got horrible service and the restaurant had the nerve to suggest he leave a 20% tip printed on a $35 bill which means its not even a party over 6 or 5 or 4 for that matter. That would piss me off. To be that darn arrogant and I got horrible service, I'm with pastor, you gets nothing! When restaurants print tips on the receipts normally the screw over servers.

  • Mille_

    Everyone should work in the service industry at least once in their life. An extremely demanding table that ran up a bill of over $100.00 and because they were unhappy about the food and I did not have the power to slash their bill in half they left me NO TIP. People don’t serve tables for fun, that’s somebody’s livelihood! If you cannot afford to tip, do not eat out…if your parents didn’t teach you proper etiquette when dining out, don’t eat out. If you find yourself tipping below acceptable percentage almost half the time, don’t eat out. As a foodie and aspiring chef who has worked in all facets of the food industry I can say, people don’t understand the art and effort that goes into making a simple dinner service possible. People who don’t usually have the means or haven’t been exposed to the culture of dining out are usually the ones who tip the worst. With that being said, I think some people get a rush when they get to judge someone, especially when its reflected monetarily. Cheap, tactless people are the bane of my existence.

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