ONTD Political

Waitress Who Posted No-Tip Receipt From “Pastor” Customer Fired From Job

12:08 pm - 01/31/2013
January 31, 2013 By Chris Morran

Earlier this week, we posted a story about a restaurant customer who not only chose to deny the waitress a tip, but also wrote “I Give God 10% Why do you Get 18?” on the receipt. Now we’ve learned that the server who posted the receipt online has been fired.

“I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” says Chelsea, who was dismissed from her job at Applebee’s on Wednesday, as the story began to spread across the Internet. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining.”

Chelsea tells Consumerist that the receipt was actually not even for her table. Rather, the server on the receiving end of the note showed it to Chelsea, who snapped a photo of it later that night.

As posted originally on Reddit’s Atheist page, the image contained the customer’s full signature. Chelsea says she didn’t think to edit that out because she had assumed the name was illegible.

But the Internet is a remarkably curious place, so sleuths began trying to identify the self-described “pastor” on the receipt.

“All throughout the comment thread on the Reddit post, I withheld any identifying information,” Chelsea explains, adding that she provided an inaccurate physical description of the customer just to throw people off.

She eventually replaced the image with a version that did not contain the signature, but by that point, people were posting their guesses as to the customer’s identity.

“I had already started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and blogs and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer,” she says. “I refused to confirm any of them, and all of them were incorrect. I worked with the website moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting.”

Her post immediately became popular on Reddit, and then multiple national news sources began picking up Consumerist’s write-up of the story.

Some time on Wednesday, Chelsea says the customer who had left the receipt contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.

According to Chelsea, until the receipt story got out there, her time at Applebee’s had been without incident.

“I had been well-liked and respected,” she explains. “My sales were high, my managers had no problems with me, and I was even hoping to move up to management sometime this year.

“When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light,” she continues. “In fact, I didn’t represent them at all. I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook — I checked.

“But because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public, Applebee’s has made it clear that they would rather lose a dedicated employee than lose an angry customer. That’s a policy I can’t understand.”

For someone who makes their living off of tips, it seems like the customer’s note was salt in the wound for Chelsea.

“We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” she explains. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.

In her job, Chelsea says she skipped bathroom breaks when things got busy, went hungry when she had to work several tables at a time, would work until 1:30 a.m. and then come back in at 10:30 a.m.

“I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people,” she tells Consumerist. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”

Chelsea agrees with those who argue in favor of a payment system that doesn’t make restaurant servers reliant on tips.

“But the system being flawed is not an excuse for not paying for services rendered,” she adds. “I posted a picture to make people laugh — but now I want to make a serious point. Things like this happen to servers all the time. I’ve had worse tips just in the last month. People seem to think that the easiest way to save money on a night out is to skip the tip. But when you don’t tip a good server, that means that server might move on to a better job. And a worse server might take their place. When you tip a good server well, you are ensuring good service.”

As for the customer’s claim that they “give God 10%,” Chelsea says she’s “utterly baffled” at why someone would try to make a connection between tithing to one’s church and tipping at a restaurant.

“I’ve been stiffed on tips before,” she says, “but this is the first time I’ve seen the Big Man has been used as reasoning.”

“I can understand why someone could be upset with an automatic gratuity,” she admits. The customer’s bill had included an automatic tip of 18% because, according to Chelsea, it had been part of a table of 20. “It’s a plainly stated Applebee’s policy, and it is company policy for parties over eight. I cannot control the auto-gratuity at all; it’s done by the computer that the orders are put into, and the gratuity is not determined by the bill, but by the size of the party.”

Chelsea says that the customer told her manager that their reputation had been ruined by having the receipt posted on Reddit.

“If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone,” she points out. “It’s strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed.”

Even though she’s now without a job, Chelsea claims she has no agenda, nor does she have any interest in exposing the customer’s identity to the public.

“I was just trying to make a joke, but I came home today unemployed.”

So, for now it’s back to the job market to look for a new gig. Chelsea says she’s been waiting tables to save money so she could pay for college.

“In the meantime, hopefully I can find a job that pays more than $3.50/hr,” she tells Consumerist, “Or where people are willing to tip well.”

We are reaching out to Applebee’s for comment and will update if we receive a reply.


How about this pastor gets fired from HER job for being an asshole ... Also, I'm up for tag suggestions.
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mutive 31st-Jan-2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
TBH, I think she should have found a way to post it that was totally anonymous, just because stuff like this does happen.

With that said, the "pastor" in question totally deserves to be called on his jerky behavior. And I'm appalled that the waitress was fired.
sio 31st-Jan-2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
pastor's a woman, much to my shock. i saw that on the yahoo headline article.
clevermanka 31st-Jan-2013 07:45 pm (UTC)
“If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone,” she points out. “It’s strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed.”

And by "strange," I think she means "completely expected and unsurprising." Either that, or she's a better-hearted person than I am.
chaya 31st-Jan-2013 08:54 pm (UTC)
I think it's just a subtle way to say "she knew this wasn't right but assumed it'd never get out".
arcaneaspersion 31st-Jan-2013 07:49 pm (UTC)
As a server, I would be royally pissed off if this ever happened to me
sunktheglow 31st-Jan-2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
I have to question a pastor that calls for the firings of every employee, let alone one. Doesn't seem very Christian to me. Doesn't his job necessitate that he's forgiving?

Edited at 2013-01-31 07:51 pm (UTC)
ineverycolor 31st-Jan-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
nitasee 31st-Jan-2013 07:53 pm (UTC)
To that customer: So you tithe? So what? What does that have to do with tipping a waitress?

As that say, that's a piss-poor example of Christianity.
lickety_split 31st-Jan-2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
a restaurant customer who not only chose to deny the waitress a tip, but also wrote “I Give God 10% Why do you Get 18?” on the receipt.

What a Godly thing to say.
mercystars 31st-Jan-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
then called back and demanded everyone working there be fired

truly this is a ~man of christ~
bnmc2005 31st-Jan-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
Some time on Wednesday, Chelsea says the customer who had left the receipt contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.

As if this man weren't "Godly" enough!
lb_x 31st-Jan-2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
the image contained the customer’s full signature. Chelsea says she didn’t think to edit that out because she had assumed the name was illegible.

That doesn't violate a privacy clause?
jesskat 31st-Jan-2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
dw_10rosefan 2nd-Feb-2013 12:19 am (UTC)
Matthew Robert Smith, you bad bad boy! ;)
eyetosky 31st-Jan-2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
... it was $6.29.

anjak_j 31st-Jan-2013 10:05 pm (UTC)
Fuckin' seriously.

And hai, they'd only give God $3.49...
mercystars 31st-Jan-2013 08:10 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry she got fired..............but posting this type of stuff online is never a good idea.
schexyschteve 31st-Jan-2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
Applebee's =/= your church

Plus, I'm pretty sure your god isn't living off $3.50/hr, so who the fuck cares how much you give your god?
bleed_peroxide 31st-Jan-2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
Perfect comment is perfect. This man probably makes a pretty penny off some of those tithes and doesn't get that tips, for serves, are not just gee-whiz money.

Edited at 2013-01-31 08:20 pm (UTC)
satellite__eyes 31st-Jan-2013 08:16 pm (UTC)
A Christian acting un-Christian? I'm shocked!
Assholes like this make me happy that I don't have to waitress anymore.
xhollydayx 1st-Feb-2013 04:09 am (UTC)
I was raised half Catholic (dad's family is all Roman Catholic) and went to Catholic school. Assholes like this helped me realize I should open my eyes and don't have to be Catholic just b/c someone says it's what is right. (I have nothing against Catholicism, it just wasn't for me adn there was a lot of... well, this stuff at my school)
bleed_peroxide 31st-Jan-2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
He claims to be a man of god but wants an entire restaurant's worth of people lose their jobs, and he refuses to pay for services rendered because his mind somehow connects tithing (voluntary and religiously-based) with tipping (voluntary but good manners if the waiter/waitress did a good job).

What a good-hearted man of Christ he is.
peace_piper 31st-Jan-2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
And as a server, you're taxed on tips you're assumed to be making, there's no clause on the 1040 that says, "I was supposed to be tipped and some asshole stiffed me". So not only does she make very little, but has PAID to SERVE this creep. Or the other waitress, whichever. Which makes it even more shifty that this pastor was complaining about it.
sihaya09 31st-Jan-2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Christian generosity and love, y'all.
zeonchar 31st-Jan-2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
If he's gonna be an ass and write stuff like that down he needs to expect that it will be open for anyone to see.
skellington1 31st-Jan-2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Eh, it's the same kind of mindset that demands the 'right' to use slurs and dog-whistles without being called a bigot. Remember, being CALLED a bad person is much worse than BEING one!
vulturoso 31st-Jan-2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Kind of wondering if this dude has ever even read the Bible.
furrygreen 31st-Jan-2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
Probably not but that's probably a good thing. With all the terrible shit in that book, I'm certain being a douche when writing on a receipt is probably the better option of the two.
kyra_neko_rei 31st-Jan-2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
Let me see: this "pastor" a) refused to tip, thus sticking his server with a less-than-minimum wage for the job she did for him, b) on a party of twenty, c) used disingenuous math (a tithe is 10% of total income, whereas a tip is 18% of the price of the meal), d) writes that note, obviously meaning it to sting, e) gets pissed at her for ruining his reputation by telling a truth he deliberately chose to create, and f) ordered the restaurant's owners to fire multiple people over this without caring who was and who wasn't responsible.

Dude. The Ten Commandments say nothing about bearing true witness about thy neighbor. Don't like the reputation you've got? Earn a better one.

And what the fuck's up with the management saying she "ruined the reputation of the restaurant?" It sends a rather awful message to imply that "our employees don't stand for being bullied and cheated out of our pay" is a negative.

IMHO the "pastor" should be identified and his picture distributed to every restaurant in the country so that whenever he walks into any food establishment he gets told that God can be his server.
bmh4d0k3n 31st-Jan-2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
IMHO the "pastor" should be identified and his picture distributed to every restaurant in the country so that whenever he walks into any food establishment he gets told that God can be his server.

 photo 14d3apt.gif

soleiltropiques 31st-Jan-2013 08:34 pm (UTC)
I think she did make a mistake with regards to posting the person's signature.

OTOH, that person is an absolute complete and utter jerk.

What also strikes me about this story is the working conditions of the waitress. Where I live, the minimum wage for jobs where one gets tips is 8,55$ and will soon be going up to 8,75$. It is also generally understood that tips here should be 15% of the bill with taxes. (Our currency is currently at about 1 to 1 with the U.S. dollar.) The cost of living here isn't *too* bad either (where I am it's actually lower than many other big cities) -despite that, I'd say that even here working in a restaurant is not exactly an easy or well paying job. So talk about working for peanuts (i.e. waitressing) -is what she makes even a living wage?

Anyways, these questions also make me think that this person is an incredible jerk. I mean, we're not talking about some loaded person like Mittens Romney, here.

Edited at 2013-01-31 08:34 pm (UTC)
peace_piper 31st-Jan-2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
As I read it, even after tips, but before taxes she's not even making minimum wage in my state and I'm one of the lucky few who gets minimum wage + tips by state law. I can't believe how little servers are paid and then expected to make it up in tips when many of them don't.
nesmith 31st-Jan-2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
That "pastor" is an ASSHOLE. Full stop, end of discussion. If I were in his congregation (assuming he even HAS one and isn't a lying, cheapskate asshole) I would be reaming him out and leaving his shitty excuse for a church if this is the kind of "man of God" they employ.

I am just so mad I could spit.
natyanayaki 1st-Feb-2013 02:57 am (UTC)
Here's the pastor, pastoring. Though I don't know if it's technically her congregation? But she seems to have enough of a following to have multiple videos posted on YT: http://youtu.be/r5J_7wm7E_E
dumpweeds 31st-Jan-2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
1. fuck Christians

2. fuck tipped position wages
tigerdreams 31st-Jan-2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
kyra_neko_rei 31st-Jan-2013 09:43 pm (UTC)
That's the only thing I was seeing a potential problem with. Different people have different abilities to make out bad handwriting---and there's always the possibility that someone familiar with the pastor's signature could've read the post---I know several people whose signatures aren't "legible" but that I can recognize.

But, yeah. Some kind of in-house disciplinary thing, without firing her, would've been best.
sio 31st-Jan-2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
beat me to it.

btw this "pastor" is actually a woman--it looks like the Consumerist article doesn't mention that. i saw it on the yahoo article.

Applebees' FB page is being flooded with polite outrage. wonder if we can find out which Applebees Chelsea worked for and call them directly to complain since corporate is no doubt gonna claim the franchise excuse, whether rightfully or wrongfully.
aviv_b 31st-Jan-2013 08:53 pm (UTC)
I'm up for this. I will also post my polite outrage on FB as well.
tigerdreams 31st-Jan-2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
This guy expected a server to wait his table for free (because tips are legally counted as a portion of a server's hourly wage), and then was rude about it in writing, and justified that rudeness with his religion. I am totally okay with him being publicly shamed for this, and think the server who posted it was classy for going to the lengths she did to obscure his identity (illegible signature notwithstanding; that was an error on her part, but if she genuinely thought his chicken-scratch couldn't be parsed, I can understand).
thecityofdis 31st-Jan-2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah, agreed. Additionally, this server sounds... kind of awesome? Like, she just sounds really sharp and like somebody I'd want to be friends with.
mskye 31st-Jan-2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
The pastor was a royal asshole, but jesus, the internet will turn ANYTHING into a witch hunt! The fact that this spun so completely out of control is just sad.
rainbow_fish 31st-Jan-2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
I think there are definitely times when things get out of control, but in a lot of ways, I think the internet has a tendency to make people slightly more accountable for their actions? (And I even hesitate in phrasing it like that, because there are definitely times this kind of thing goes astray.)

Like all the people who were posting racist shit about Obama after the election and got fired/suspended from it.

I won't say that people ~deserve~ to be shamed for things like this, but I have about zero% sympathy for them tbh.
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