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Posted, cringing

Posted by Charles II on November 23, 2011

As a Christian, stories like this trouble me deeply. Claire Gordon, Daily Finance:

A $10 bill is a joyful sight for a server. But when one waiter went to retrieve such a note out from under a diner’s plate recently, he reportedly noticed something curious. The tip it provided wasn’t monetary, but took the form of advice. “SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN MONEY,” it said on the back, “like your eternal salvation, that was brought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross.”

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Christians don’t tip very well,” he wrote for The Lutheran magazine in January 2009. “As a matter of fact, we’re pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint ‘cheap’ with a religious-sounding veneer and call it ‘being a good steward.’ Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess.”

[Now, in fact, a careful study has shown that Christians are not less likely to tip less for good service. But] while it is statistically false to say that Christians are bad tippers, it is true that Christians are more likely to stiff their servers than people of other religious (or non-religious) bents.

The waiter who got the counterfeit-Christian bill makes $2.65 an hour plus tips. Now, in upscale restaurants during busy times, waitstaff make really good money, the kind that Tom Emmer imagines they make. But the reality is that:

In May 2008, median hourly wages (including tips) of waiters and waitresses were $8.01. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.32 and $10.35. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.73, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26 an hour. For most waiters and waitresses, higher earnings are primarily the result of receiving more in tips rather than higher hourly wages. Tips usually average between 10 percent and 20 percent of guests’ checks; waiters and waitresses working in busy or expensive restaurants earn the most.

If you work 60 hours a week, you can expect to take home about $25,000 a year. If you’re simply not able to handle that much work–and most of us can’t after we hit 40 or 50–then you’re probably making $16,000 per year. Not even enough to raise a family in dignity.

That makes waitstaff in most restaurants the least of these. And for those, Jesus said this:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matt. 25)

And that is why there will be so few self-styled “Christians” and so many self-styled “atheists” in heaven.

If you haven’t done something tangible to help someone feel thanksgiving on this holiday, take a moment. There are homeless people who lack clothing. There are families with not enough to eat. There are unemployed folks, including many veterans who need to know that they are not forgotten. And if you’re eating out and don’t have enough money to have a good dinner and pay a tip, well, eat a little less and tip a little more.

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3 Responses to “Posted, cringing”

  1. jo6pac said

    eat a little less and tip a little more.

    Yep, I have very little money now days but always tip 20% for all meals unless the service sucks but still leave something. When it does suck it’s mostly from being understaffed, so look around they’re less people working in the food industry except high end of course.

  2. Thank you, Charles. (And thank you, Jo!)

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