Sunday, June 19, 2005

God doesn't pay my rent


This story involves religion. If anyone posts a comment to this story regarding the religion aspect, I will probably delete it. This is a story about a customer and a tip. In this case, religion is a side issue.

-A Description of The Church-

There is a non-denominational church in a bordering suburb. The Church is huge. It has televised sermons, cushioned stadium seating, and TV monitors situated in the back of the auditorium. Makes it easier for the late arrivals to take in the pastor in all his glory. The pastor drives a Jaguar, his son a BMW. They live in a $2 million home on 3 acres of land in one of those fenced-in, rent-a-cop guarded neighborhoods.

Every year, The Church hosts several conferences for people from all over the U.S. Once a year, there is a world-wide conference.

The congregation is cheap. There are no exceptions to my knowledge. Perhaps they are taught to never tip a larger percentage than they tithe. I don't know and don't care. If the pastor can afford a multi-million dollar home and several expensive cars, then the congregation has enough to tip 15%. Here is the worst of The Church stories.

-The Church Story-

The world-wide conference is in full swing, and our servers are jazzed. We're all making money thanks to the sheer volume of customers. It helps that one of the neighboring casual restaurants has asked The Church to send its parishioners elsewhere. No joke. Their servers bitched and threatened to strike if their management didn't take action. After this night, I won't blame them.

I have already put away $80 and there is still an hour wait at the door. The hostess seats me with a party of 12, taking up three of my four tables. Cha-Ching!

The party is friendly enough. No drinkers at the table, so the per-customer check average is low for the table. No biggie. Twelve burgers and twelve soft drinks brings the bill to about $130. Not bad.

The kitchen is rocking and the food is out fast. The table bows their heads for grace, then picks up their forks. Everyone is happily digging in. I check back to make sure everyone is happy.

"How is everything, folks?"

Nods and smiles all around, except for one gentleman who looks up at me with a serious expression.

"Waiter, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?"

Now, my parents instilled great morals, but I rarely went to church. I'm a non-practicing Christian. The way I figure it, treat others as you would have them treat you. Simple, effective.

I tell The Inquisitor as much, but in much nicer and lighter terms. Big Mistake.

"Oh, waiter," he begins, shaking his head, his half-eaten burger forgotten on his plate, "you don't want to go to Hell do you?"

"No, sir. I figure if I live my life as a good person, then I've added something to the world."

I hate philosophizing with customers. I make an exception in this case because these folks seem nice. And their bill was huge by this restaurant's standards.

"Son (I hate it when anyone other than my parents calls me that), you should come to our retreat next month. Here's a flier and a pamphlet." Now the table is all smiles, looking up at me expectantly.

I accept the documents with a smile to avoid further confrontation. I beat a hasty retreat. I toss them into one of the side stations and busy myself with side work.

When I return to present the check, The Inquisitor persists, "Young man (another moniker I hate), you think about what I said. We hope to see you next month."

"I'll think about it sir. You folks enjoy the rest of your conference, and have a wonderful evening!"

The Church crowd sits for a few more minutes, finishing the remains of their soft drinks, talking and laughing. They're probably really excited about the prospect of herding another sheep into their flock. They pass around the bill, put on their jackets, and leave.

I pick up the check book as the bus boy sweeps the empty glasses into the bus tub and readies the table for the next group of church-goers.

I count the money. It appears they've left me a 10 and 7 20's. $20 on 130. Not great, but better than I expect.

Upon closer inspection, one of the 20's isn't a 20. It's the same size and color as a piece of U.S. currency. They've stuffed it in between the other 6 20's so it's easy to miss at first glance.

It's another pamphlet. It reads: God will Provide. On the back, it reads: This card to be presented in tandem with a tip.

Bastards. God does not pay my rent; tips do. The already minimal chance of my looking into that retreat vanishes.

The thing that pisses me off most is that apparently these people didn't bother to read their own card.

My only hope rests with the thought that many years from now...

The Inquisitor is waiting at the Pearly Gates with his bags packed. He's ready to enter the great Castle in the Sky, and he's wondering what's taking so long. Finally he comes to the front of the line, ready to tell St. Peter that he's accepted Jesus as his personal savior.

Instead, St. Peter asks, "Inquisitor, why did you stiff that waiter? You've given a sect of our religion a bad name?"

The Inquisitor fumbles for an answer, and can only manage, "I gave him a pamphlet!"

"A pamphlet? Right..." St. Peter's hand moves to the lever beside him. He pulls, and a trapdoor opens beneath The Inquisitor.

As he drops out of sight, all can hear his fading cry, "But, the paaaamphleeeetttttt..."


SierraBella said...

Saw your comment on Waiter Rant and came by.
Great stuff here!
Love the "preface" and then the "story."
Your writing is wonderful, and I'll be back!

The Server said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!! You are the first non-family member/close personal friend that has read Server Stories. I really appreciate that you took the time. Please, tell your friends! :-)

curious servant said...

Nice little story.

I hope it garners the attention of the people who need to read it.

Khate said...

I'm not sure of this qualifies as a delete-worthy statement on religion, but...

I work for a conference center in a non-profit organization. We rent our rooms and auditorium out to churches on occasion. And the only two clients that have bounced checks to us have been (you guessed it) churches.

They're waiting behind your Inquisitor on that line at the Pearly Gates...

Enjoying your blog so far! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I hate solicitors of any ilk and that is exactly what these people are. Maybe this will get deleted but I feel like I know what I am talking about- my brother is one of those guys. Hell is their wild card.
Yah suuuuure. Okay then.

It'sJustMe said...

If I had a dollar for every time that I got a religious pamphlet, or pep talk in lieu of a tip I'd have at least $20.

The funny thing is that I was one of them. Not in the since that I'll give you a religious inquisition, a pamphlet or stiff you on a tip, but in the sense that I used to practice the same fundamental religious beliefs. In fact I'm 99% sure that I've been to the church that you allude to in your post.

The even funnier thing is that waiting tables caused me to realize just how hypocritical my religion and fellow believers were. Instead of spouting bible verses in response to being told that I was a sinner for serving alcohol to the masses, I would just smile and take it, wondering the entire time why these people didn't understand that ACTIONS really do speak louder then WORDS.

JV said...

Bah. What a dumbass.

Speaking as a Christian (of a similar ilk), I'd say the talking to you about Jesus - that's fine - the offering of a pamphlet - also fine (it's your choice not to read them!) though you may find it a bit annoying.

But stiffing you on the tip?

What a loser. Gives the rest of us a bad name.

stacey said...

i see you've become familiar with willow creek.

not all who attend there are so bad, but our favorite thing to do on sundays at "the other restaurant" is compare religious tracts and see who gets the most

drew said...

i recieved a "for sinners only" booklet from a customer the other day. i have hundreds of memories of pamphlets. they get amped up after hearing their motivational pastor playing on twenty screens. they cant help but reach out to the next lost soul, just so happens thats us,, ,,,, their server. good post

Amanda said...

Hehe. I used to work as an esthetician in a spa. My clients occaisionally would leave me a 'tract' instead of a tip. It used to make me so angry, because not only is it a cop out on their part (allowing them to avoid the "awkwardness" of actually verbally expressing their faith and making a human connection), but also because if they had only taken a moment to talk to me like I was a person, they would have found out that I am already a Christian, and I have no use for their demeaning 'tract'.
Kudos to you, Server.

Nathan Dar said...


I also hate it when my elders refer to me as "son" or "young man." I get it quite often when debating politics with older people. "Young man, you're just not old enough to understand how a society works." Ageist bullshit!