Neetzan Zimmerman recounts the story of Alois Bell, pastor of a St. Louis church, who took a group of her flock to her neighborhood Applebee’s for dinner. The bill included an 18% gratuity built in, which is the restaurant’s policy for groups of 8 or more people, something that is fairly common. Serving large groups is tricky (especially if they order separately and want separate bills) and unfortunately some customers try to stiff the wait staff by under-tipping. (This whole business of tipping is a complex one and I expressed my own views on it back in 2005.)
But the pastor crossed that gratuity out in her bill and instead put a zero for the tip, scrawling on it for the server “I give God 10% why do you get 18″. She also inserted her title of ‘Pastor’ over her name.
The server showed the receipt to another server Chelsea Welch who, while she thought it was insulting, also thought the receipt had comedy potential. Wait staff can regale listeners for hours with the atrocious behavior of some customers and share such stores with each other. As is the practice these days, Welch took a photo and posted it on Reddit with the
name of the pastor [see this comment], restaurant, and herself removed, but keeping the word ‘pastor’. But this is the age of the internet with any number of amateur sleuths willing to do the detective work to identify a sanctimonious pastor and they quickly set about trying to identify the cheapskate who was using tithing as an excuse.
Word of the online hoo-ha quickly reached Bell from a friend who identified the online receipt as hers. When her name was finally revealed, Bell said that “My heart is really broken” and “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry” and that what she did was a “lapse in judgment that has been blown out of proportion.” She also claimed to have left $6 tip in cash, which makes no sense since that would amount to over 17% of her bill of $34.93 and be more than she gives to her god, unless she is also poor at mental arithmetic.
So how had she tried she make amends? By apologizing to the server for her snide remark? No, by calling the Applebee’s restaurant and demanding that everyone involved be fired. The restaurant did not agree to that nor to her backup demand that the next time she ate at her neighborhood restaurant that she be served by an entirely different staff. The restaurant, however, did fire Welch.
Clearly Bell does not think much of Jesus’s recommendation that people should turn the other cheek when injured by others.