If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. – Buddhist Proverb
I saw a news item the other day that captured my attention. A waitress was fired for posting a customer’s receipt online. The customer had been part of a larger party where an 18% gratuity was automatically applied. The customer scratched out her portion of the gratuity and wrote, “I give God 10% Why do you get 18?” (sic)
Several things bothered me about that report. First of all, I know it is customary for restaurants to charge 18% (in most cases) for large parties. Standard tips are 15-20%, so the charge is reasonable and the custom is broad enough that no one should be caught off-guard. Furthermore, if the service had been substandard (which it likely was not), the customer had every right to ask to speak to the manager about it, but didn’t.
Secondly, the person who posted the receipt online said they did it as a “joke.” It never ceases to amaze me that when one is caught doing something abominable, they call it a joke and push the blame on others for “not getting it.” Jokes are a catch-all excuse used by bullies. She did not like the customer’s breach of custom, and so she posted the receipt fully intending the world to know the customer was a cheapskate (at best). That’s not a joke – it’s a malicious act.
Thirdly, it just so happens the customer is a church pastor. Does one’s gift to God negate one’s opportunity to be gracious? Even if she does not agree with having a mandatory gratuity added to her bill, why would she refuse to tip a server who earns less than $4 per hour? In her state, the employer is exempt from paying minimum wage. Tips, whether you receive them or not, are counted towards servers’ wages, so not only did the pastor breach proper etiquette, she stole wages from the young woman who served her.
How does one respond to this story?
First, I confess this embarrasses me as a Christian. The Bible teaches us that of all the gifts God has given the world, the most important is the gift of love, by which the Bible means the charitable, gracious giving of self.
When I give my head to the barber, I do not discount the bill or tip just because my head needs less work than many other heads in town. I seek to be generous instead, because the one who serves me has a family to feed. Whether he or she is a millionaire or a pauper is immaterial. They provide me a service I need, and they do a nice job, and they are deserving of my respect. The dollars I offer her are simply tokens of my appreciation.
So my first tip: when in doubt, be generous.
Second, this story reminds me of the dangers of acting out of anger or mean-spiritedness. I am hard-pressed to recall a time I ever acted out of anger where the consequence was worth it. I am sure somewhere in the annals of my life’s story there was a time I was angry and was entitled to say or do what I said and did, but I will be darned if one comes to mind.
Whether one is a Christian or a heathen, one is wisest when exercising restraint of pen or tongue, especially in this day and age of instantaneous communication. Once we press Send or Enter, our words and actions will take on a life of their own. One cannot “unring the bell or unsee that which has been seen!”
So my second tip: when in doubt, be restrained.
Third, if you have a problem, deal with it directly. Face it immediately. Fix it properly. If you do your part and respect those around you, your life’s words and deeds will be less likely to be toxic, let alone go viral.
So my final tip: Life is hard enough; Be kind, generous, and forgiving in this, our valley, and for heaven’s sake, tip your servers!