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

Thou shalt not screw your server.
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

buddy christ.jpg
Jesus says, "Servers are AWESOME!"
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.

Servers bring the loaves--and the fishes.
3. God may have chosen you, but your servers probably didn't.

Waiting on big church tables is literally the cost of doing business for servers.

I remember the first Sunday a.m. shift I ever worked at a full-service chain restaurant, and I couldn't figure out why the veteran servers were hiding out back in the break area smoking for half the morning. I figured it out quickly, though, after the first few church parties made ordering food and drinks into an agonizingly drawn-out deconstruction of what was in every salad and sandwich, and ran me like a racehorse and didn't tip. And since I was a noob, I got stuck with all the church tables, every given Sunday, for as long as it took for new servers to be hired, trained and put on the floor, thus relieving me from my obligatory hazing so I was then free to pay it forward.

Here's a micro-PSA: Big church table participants -- servers don't like waiting on you, and they will fight amongst themselves not to have to, and you are a punishment and a plague to the pockets and purses of the poor noobs who get stuck with you. Tip your servers. Would you like to work at your jobs and not be paid for it? I'm guessing no, so pretend those end-of-the-meal check holders are like collection plates and give up the fold -- not the coin.

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Like many, I waited tables in my day.

The place I plied my trade happened to be around the corner from a television ministry.

Every single day, we'd get the televangelists in for breakfast, lunch, coffee and pie, and dinner. Most days, they were polite and not overly demanding, although their penchant for lots of jewelery and eye watering amounts of cologne made us, collectively, question their thought processes. 

God help us when they had guests though. Let's order everything on the damn menu, ask heaps of questions (that I knew damn well they already knew the answers to), request customizations of every ilk, run up a huge tab, whip out your AMEX Centurion to pay and, then, leave a 5-10% tip (despite having received awesome service).

 And no, they weren't exceptionally unique in this practice...there were other groups we, as servers, hated as much, but it was their position as clergy that made their actions both ridiculous and especially annoying. 


Yeah, b/c this *never* happens with other large groups. Such as the rich trophy wife mommies who invade en masse with their undisciplined brats and demand no fat, no gluten modifications to everything (but don't hold back on the chardonnay and skinny girl drinks).  20 somethings who order mass amounts of cheap liquor, are loud and swearing constantly, yet leave you a dollar tip.  I could go on and on and how bad larger groups of other demographics are. 

Why not just come out and say you hate religion and anyone who is a member of one? 

 What this pastor did was awful, but she is just cheap, period.  Yes, and preachy, but she has been duly shamed.  Quit using it as an excuse for a bash session on religion.  Or at least come out with articles about how bad other large groups are as well.

davebarnes topcommenter

Another reason to be an atheist.


"Jesus won't pay my cable bill, my phone bill or buy me groceries at the end of each week. "

But Obama will!! Get your Obamaphone! Nevermind that the gubmint takes much more than 10%, or 18%, from workin' folk.

jenna-furrr topcommenter

@greatstateofCO Church groups aren't the only large parties to be high maintenance and not tip, for sure. And she should be duly shamed. I make no excuses. And there have been plenty of posts about server pitfalls, and will probably be more in the future. : )

jenna-furrr topcommenter

@GFTW Where is this Obamaphone? Does it come with unlimited minutes and an EBT card? I want one.

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