Cafe Society

Thou shalt not skip the tip! Five reasons I hate waiting on church tables

The Internet is on fire with photos, memes and commentary about yet another f*cked up note left on a receipt. This one is courtesy of a St. Louis pastor, Alois Bell, who was miffed at an automatic gratuity assessed her large group at Applebee's, inspiring her to scrawl her now-infamous message: "I give God 10% why do you get 18." After a server photographed the receipt and put it on the web, Pastor Bell called the restaurant and got the server canned like cheap salmon. Bell didn't apologize, but did tell The Smoking Gun, "I've brought embarrassment to my church and ministry."

This whole sorry sitch got me thinking about my old jobs waiting tables at full-service chains like Applebee's, and how much I didn't enjoy serving church tables, especially on Sunday mornings. So here's a list of five reasons I hate waiting on church tables: Can I get an AMEN?

See also: -To tip or not to tip? That's up for debate. -Applebee's: all quiet on the luncheon front -Save the verbal tips -- give cash

5. More ranch dressing NOW!, sayeth the church tables.

Large parties of church folks are really high-maintenance, to the point of me wishing they'd just have a church potluck in someone's basement and not foist off their entitled gimme-gimme-now attitudes on me. I'm not sure if ordering servers around gives these holy rollers a sense of accomplishment and control in a world of sin and iniquity, but for some reason church tables have run me ragged with less-than-polite demands for extra bread, dressing, napkins, hot tea refills, crap to keep their kids quiet, and whatever else they need or want. Now, taking people's orders and bringing them things was a big chunk of my job description when I was waiting tables -- so doing those things in a friendly, lather-rinse-repeat fashion wasn't a problem for me.

But large church tables must save their good communication skills for church, because what I got from them were a lot of marching orders for things that I either just brought, just brought for the person right next to the person asking, or food/beverages/refills that I was in the process of bringing.

4. Raise your voices unto the Lord, but not in a restaurant.

Lord have mercy, big-top church parties are loud and obnoxious customers. It's like the concept of indoor voices doesn't exist, or maybe being cooped up in pews all morning makes church people more inclined to blast their pent-up mouth-noises over brunch. They talk loudly, they order their meals in louder voices than they need to since they are talking to human servers and not drive-through speakers, and the worst part is the loud praying. The restaurant staff and other diners get that church people just came from church -- usually the outfits are a give-away -- and they figure that praying is part and parcel of the religious experience. But everyone in a significant radius of these tables doesn't need to hear all the things that church folks are thankful for, all about somebody's hip replacement surgery or how grateful they are that god is blessing their soup.

It's a restaurant, not a revival meeting, for god's sake.

2. May the devil take your spawn.

Larger tables of church people bring with them hordes of little kids in pretty little dresses and handsome little suits, but underneath those fine Sunday clothes are miniature demons straight from the eternal pits of hell. I always imagined that dressing up those younguns and parading them around church, then muzzling them for an hour or more, then taking them to a restaurant where they were supposed to sit still and eat, seemed like a mega-church-sized pain in the ass for them, but my empathy ceased when I realized that the adults wanted to drink copious amounts of ice tea and gossip for several more hours over lunch, and not be troubled to supervise their offspring in any reasonable way.

So guess who usually gets railroaded into being free babysitters on top of being walking ice tea dispensers? You got it -- servers.

You really can't blame the kids for trying to bust out of confinement, but I could and did blame the church folks for creating the stifled little beasts -- then unleashing them on the dining room like the seven plagues of Eqypt.

1. Jesus won't pay my rent or my car note.

Jesus won't pay my cable bill, my phone bill or buy me groceries at the end of each week. Nor is the Son of God the one bringing big church tables diet Sprite refills every five damn minutes. Church tables don't tip very well, if they tip at all, and they aren't worth waiting on -- not when I could be focusing my efforts on serving godless heathen tables who do tip their loaves and fishes, with the added bonus of being treated more like an actual human being and less like that poor donkey that Jesus rode into town on.

Loving the Lord isn't a crime. Eating out after a church service, having a large party, and ordering annoying sh*t like hot tea and de facto DIY salads aren't crimes, either -- but treating your server like a sub-disciple and then not tipping him or her should be. Rude, non-tipping church folks used to be able to do what they do without being called out on it, but thank Jesus Christ and Al Gore for the Internet: Now they may end up being publicly shamed for their transgressions, and suffer the righteous indignation of tipped employees everywhere.

By all means, church folks, follow the Ten Commandments, be generous to the poor when it suits you and bring the good word to the people on the highways and byways, but as pastor Alois Bell discovered this week, you reap what you sow, and when you decide to be a holy sh*t, then be prepared to turn the other cheek.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz