Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Tip your server, folks!

I'm a little late to the party on this, but:

That's the note left on the receipt at an Applebee's restaurant, signed by, of all people, a pastor. Amazing.

Now, the server who was the victim of this bit of Un-Christian awfulness isn't the one who posted this pic online; that server got fired for her troubles. As a former restaurant manager, I kinda-sorta understand why Applebee's fired that server, but this whole deal also points out that the old business models and management notions are a bit behind the curve, what with things like social media about. The firestorm of negative publicity toward Applebee's that shot through Blogistan, Facebookatopia, and the Twitterverse will probably be a lot more costly to the company, long-term, than anything an angry, petulant, entitled, and whiny pastor might have done. (Especially one so full of herself that her first impulse was to demand the firing of every single employee of that restaurant. Yup, you read that right. She demanded that even employees who weren't even there that day get fired. Ayup.)

The firing of that server is bad, but I don't think it's that bad; a server with any level of skill should not have too much trouble landing on her feet at another restaurant. That industry is not exactly known for long-term tenure of its workers, and when I worked in restaurants, whenever a server left, we would invariably hear that he or she had been hired to serve someplace else. I wouldn't worry about her.

And besides, the real bad actor here was, of course, the pastor. She managed to unleash a perfect storm of assholedom that is really amazing to behold. Stiffing a server is bad, to begin with. (If you choose to undertip because of service issues, it's best to talk to the manager, because in my experience, no server is going to walk away from a table from which he or she has been stiffed or undertipped thinking, "Gee, I wonder what their issue was with my service?" They're going to think, "Cheap bastards", and move on. Trust me on this.) You can dislike tipping all you want, but to flaunt the system is just mean and petty and ineffective. Tips are livelihood to these workers. Treat it as such.

On top of stiffing the server, there is the leaving of the note. There's so much assholedom to unpack here! First, just leaving a note at all makes clear that the stiffing of the server is not an oversight. Sometimes people really do forget to tip, or other times, there's the "Hey, did you leave the tip? Nah, I thought you were leaving the tip!" thing that happens. But the note is basically rubbing the server's nose in shit...and then this pastor invokes God as a justification for it, as if to say, "I have The Lord's support in stiffing you!" Plus, the pastor is apparently unaware of the concept of giving ten percent of one's entire income to God, and kicking back eighteen percent of a guest check in a restaurant to a server. They're not even the same thing. One wonders how this pastor got through school.

And there's something else going on here, too. The pastor was part of a large group of diners, for whom Applebee's apparently has a policy of automatically charging an eighteen-percent gratuity. Why do restaurants have such policies? Because -- and this is something many diners may not realize -- large parties tend to be bad for servers' pocketbooks. Large parties often undertip as a matter of course, and there's a double whammy involved as a large party (a) takes up a disproportionate part of a server's section, (b) places significant extra demands in terms of time and effort on the server, and (c) tends to be present in the dining room longer than normal tables. Putting it briefly, large parties mean that servers wait on fewer tables, which results in lower income. That's why a lot of restaurants have an automatic-gratuity policy: to make serving them worth the server's time.

But apparently this pastor's group of diners decided to try and skirt that policy by requesting separate checks! Note the total on the bill: $34.93. That's about what it costs for two, maybe three, people at Applebee's. So they were already trying to scheme their way out of paying the eighteen percent, and when it got assessed anyway, well, the pastor whipped out her pen and said, "Oh yeah? Trying to hold me to your policy anyway? Bullshit!" Thank God the Internet was ready to exact penance!

What I end up wondering is, what are this pastor's sermons like. I wonder if she is able to preach on the Sermon on the Mount with a straight face. Perhaps not; maybe she's one of those pastors who nurses an unhealthy fetish for Leviticus.

Tip your servers, folks. They work hard, they genuinely want you to enjoy your experience, and you hold their livelihood in your hands. Literally. And if you don't want to tip servers, well...use what would have been the tip money to buy cookbooks and just stay home.

1 comment:

Call me Paul said...

This "pastor" is only a "pastor" because she started her own church and called herself "pastor." She hasn't been ordained by any recognized religion.