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February 15, 2013

The difference between tipping and tithing

Bob Bestler | There’s a difference between tipping and tithing, despite pastor’s note on receipt

Bob Bestler | There’s a difference between tipping and tithing, despite pastor’s note on receipt

I have a soft spot for people who work in restaurants, and every once in a while I read a story about a rude customer that makes my blood boil.

This one was about a pastor in St. Louis, who wrote on her receipt a mean-spirited message to an Applebee's waitress:

“I give God 10 percent. Why should I give you 18?''

The pastor, a woman, then wrote “0'' on the “tip'' line.

The 18 percent gratuity -- a total of $6.29 -- was added to her credit card payment anyway because she was paying for a party of eight or more. That is a routine practice of most restaurants and the server has nothing to do with it.

In this case, the server showed the receipt to a fellow waitress, who posted it online for laughs -- and Pastor Grinch's words went viral. Her name was visible on the receipt and she was bombarded by thousands of angry Internet taunts. She apologized for her “lapse in judgment,'' but the damage was done.

The server's friend was fired because, you know, the customer is always right -- even the self-righteous customer who invokes God.

So the question: Why should a customer give a waitress an 18 percent tip when God only gets a 10 percent tithe?

Well, let's see. There is rent to pay, gas to buy, babies to feed...

One problem is that virtually all wait staff work for wages more suitable for Chinese factory work; customers are expected to help get them up to minimum wage.

It's an odd arrangement that I've criticized before, based partly on the experiences of a daughter who worked in several Grand Strand restaurants, loved waiting on people and loved her managers, but hated that she had to depend on tips to make a living.

Trust me, not everyone tips and not everyone leaves 18 percent.

I don't mind tipping, but it always irritates me, when I think about it, that I have to help the owner pay his employees.

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