While surfing the Internet recently, I stumbled upon an infuriating tidbit on Reddit about a St. Louis waitress who was fired over posting a photo of a rude note left on a receipt. The message, “I give God 10 percent. Why do you get 18?” was written by Pastor Alois Bell.
Now, it is important to note this happened at an Applebee’s location, so I wasn’t too shocked; just angry I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about bad tippers for hours afterward. The waitress who was fired, Chelsea Welch, wasn’t even the good pastor’s server—she just took a picture of the receipt and posted it online thinking no one could trace it.
Of course, Welch was wrong, and when word reached Bell, she called Applebee’s and demanded everyone be fired. I imagine Jesus would have done the same if a waitress had embarrassed him like that at the Jerusalem Applebee’s.
Meeting Bell halfway, Applebee’s fired Welch and triggered a massive wave of anger that engulfed Reddit and many other websites.
Now, Bell has since apologized, and the waitress did post a private receipt on the open Internet; a place filled with maniacs. The problem is this is just one incident in the long, sad history of waitstaff abuse.
I’m not a waiter and I don’t get tips at my job, but I understand their necessity well.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage earned by waitstaff in 2011 was $10.05, which at 40 hours a week puts the annual wage to $20,904. That’s less than half the national average of $42,976.
That figure includes a server’s base hourly pay, which is $3.675 an hour in Missouri, where the Applebee’s incident took place. So apparently the state nickname of “The Show-Me State” does not refer to “show me the money.”
If you are a good tipper, that’s great. You can expect a long life of good karma and entrance into customer heaven when you die. If you are non-tipping scum, then heed my words lest you find yourself in the ninth circle of cheapskate hell.
There are plenty of reasons for good tipping. Waiters and waitresses, like everyone else, have bills to pay. They have tuition to pay. Maybe they’re supporting children. A $2 gratuity added to your bill may not seem like much, but it can mean the difference between your server being able to pay for gas to get to work or not.
Another reason is image. Nothing says, “I will buy you a ch-ch-Chia Pet for your birthday” like not tipping well when on a date or hanging out with friends. From a financial standpoint, if you can’t afford even a 10 percent tip, why in the blazes are you eating at a restaurant at all?
Finally, it’s an issue of common decency. Most waitstaff have been nice to me, despite my generally sour personality. They stand for hours at a time, slowly developing varicose veins to make enough money to survive. You would expect a decent wage for your hard work, wouldn’t you?
Of course, tipping rates vary widely, but 15 percent is the common figure. I typically try to go 15-20 percent. My parents explained the reason to me as a child: “You don’t want to be that guy, Robert. You don’t want to be the lousy tipper, because bad things happen to a lousy tipper’s food.” Amen, Mom and Dad.