Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This is in regards to the "*" in my last post:

At OG the other day (my last day) I had an unsettling experience. Courtney, one of the servers and I were talking. I asked her how her last night had been. "Terrible!" she said. "I made no money. Remember your friend, the one who is training to be a minister, who was in here last night? He and his friend had, like, six bowls of soup each and stayed for forever. And then? They stiffed me. What's worse is that I knew they would."

I felt myself wincing. The "friend" they were talking about was a Christian I know. I don't know him very well but . . . "Well," I stammered, "he's not exactly a friend, but more of an acquaintance. But as far as I know, he's not planning to become a minister. What makes you think that?"

Courtney warmed to the subject "Well, him and his friends sometimes have their Bibles when they come in. They always run me ragged and give me $%@& in return. Oh, and last night he looked me in the eye and said 'Thank you so much for the excellent service.' Everyone here knows him and us veterans refuse to serve him if we see him come in. When he and his family come in for pasta bowl they run us off our feet and always leave nothing. I'm never going to serve him again. I know he's your friend and everything but I thought you should know. . . "

I sighed to myself and shook my head. Why do Christians do this? This person probably has no idea that he is known as being a stiffer and that he is known as being a Christian. As you know from my previous posts here and here, I believe strongly that Christians ought to tip in this culture, whether they feel like it or not. I don't care what your principles are, if everyone tips and you don't you look like garbage - that's the simple truth. My "friend" here is totally destroying his witness (not to mention Christians in general) by not tipping and then giving the "verbal tip" as a final insult. It's distressing because he should know better. It's appalling really.

"Well, I guess I need to talk to him," I said. The problem is, when people should know better, what can actually help them to see the light? What can break them out of their idealogical view that "I don't get tipped for my job, why should I tip someone else? " kind of thinking. I have had very little success so far in helping people see how their actions hurt others (including our witness as Christ followers) and changing someone's heart so that they actually want to tip generously seems even more daunting. Yet, I know that shouldn't hold me back.

I can't change his ideas or his actions and I can't control him. But I feel like I should at least give him some feedback, some information for growth. He should know that:

1. The servers at OG know he is a Christian.
2. The servers at OG think he is cheap and that he works them hard for no reward.
3. The servers at OG recognize him when he comes in, speak badly of him, and don't want to serve him (sometimes refusing to!).
4. Wether it should be or not, his decision not to tip puts him in a group of less then 8% of our guests and is hurting his witness considerably.

I would also frontload him for it by letting him know that I have some information for growth for him but that I only want to share it with him if he thinks he can take it. It might be upsetting, embarassing, and he may or may not like it. He might feel some angry thoughts towards me for sharing it. He may not also agree with it, but it is honest and is not judging motives. I would leave it up to him to decide if he would want me to proceed.

It's sad because this kind of information could destroy any chance of he and I having a relationship, but it would be speaking the truth and I would only do it if I was feeling like I could do it in a loving way. What do you think, should I do it? What do you think of my approach? Would you do it differently (add or subtract anything)? I guess I'm looking for some feedback on my proposed feedback. The easiest thing would be to ignore it, especially now that I'm not waitering anymore. But if I was in his shoes I'd want someone to care enough about me to let me know the impact my actions were having on others (and especially on my witness) . . .

May Light increase!


Lindsey Dueck said...

I think it is probably something the guy should be told, especially because you KNOW it is putting him in a negative light. But wow, it would be so hard for me to tell someone something like that. I tend to avoid uncomfortable situations!

As for tipping, I used to be a hostess at Perkins so I have a bit of experience in that field, but I think it is very cheap and rude not to tip. Some countries automatically add the tip onto the bill. I would feel so guilty if I did not tip. Even if the service is really bad I still tip, just not as much as I normally would!

Mark said...

I think the trick is to present them with the info (no judging) and let them make their own decision. But yes, difficult to say! Tipping (or not tipping) is not a Biblical commandment, but not doing it does have repercussions. It's kind of like a pragmatic necessity. Since we have to do it, we might as well do it generously and show people that Christians can be the best tippers. Being a bitter Christian won't help you or your witness!

Anonymous said...

Hey mark!
I am in the crowd that dislikes the fact that tipping is a part of society (although i do acknowledge that it is.) Interestingly i enjoy giving generous tips when they are deserved, and withhold tips only if the service is terrible, i.e. waiting over an hour to receive food AFTER ordering.

Do you have any examples of a Christian tipping generously and having a nonChristian (or Christian for that matter) noticing and commenting? Do you really think that overcompensating for stingy Christians would help our image or is this just a theory?


Anonymous said...

Hi-I recently visited in Hong Kong and China where tipping is frowned on-yes,frowned on! The thoery is that servers have a job and will do it well regardless if they get tipped or not,and may end up doing a worse job if they expect tips but don't get always get what they want.Someone challenged this theory by asking if we wouldn't get even better service if we tipped. A local replied"do you get better service in your home land (USA)where tipping is expected than you do here where it's not expected?" The answer was a resounding "No".The locals reply was "Exactly". So don't look at it as "seeing the light" or needing to "break out of an ideology". Its simply a way of doing things-not a sacred duty. Incidently, I do tip, on average 15 per cent, but I hate tipping a poor server just as much as a good server hates not being tipped. Terry

Lindsey Dueck said...

I also wonder sometimes if they will know I am tipping lots because I am a Christian. It seems people tend to just focus on the negative examples(Christians that do not tip) rather than seeing the positive examples (Christians tipping generously). Do you think that there are more Christians that do not tip than Christians that do?

Mark said...

Eric:I remember when CHVN came in a year or two ago and had a Christmas party. All of them (and they had a large party) were incredibly polite and thankful to the servers and they all tipped 15%. They were openly sharing and praying and the staff loved them. This definitely was noticed and appreciated and they were obviously Christians. Do we need to overcompensate? I'm not sure. If the average person tips somewhere between 10 and 15% then I think tipping at least 15% will make a good impression on your server and will help to dispel the idea among servers that all Christians are rude and cheap.

Terry: Hey, interesting. I've heard that servers in Australia are also not tipped but in Australia servers are tipped a living wage (closer to $20 an hour). If a server is rude or doesn't do well and you are SURE it is there fault (not the kitchen's) then I don't think you have to always tip them - the tip is an incentive to give great service after all. Many servers I know don't expect much of a tip if they don't give service. I will always tip at least 10% myself because I know that
1. Many problems with food quality/speed are directly tied to the people in the kitchen.
2. I know that many servers have problems in their lives but they still need to work. Your "surly" server may be ill, stressed out with school, depressed, or even have had someone close to them die. They don't mean to be rude, but they are in a place where circumstances forces them to work.
3. Grace - getting blessing when you deserve punishment.
4. Is it generosity if it's deserved/earned? I want to be generous because I am generous - outside of guilt, social convention, or reward.
I'm glad the Chinese have such a good worth ethic and pride in their work - we need more of that here!

Lindsey: I think that there are more "obvious" Christians (those who pray publicly, bring Christian reading material, etc) who don't tip and are rude then those who are. I could only guess but I would say among those who are rude and don't tip, about half are openly Christian. This is purely anecdotal, but Sunday (the day most Christians eat out) is known as the worst day for tips. I'd like to say the stereotype has no basis in fact, but . . .

I like what you said about rudeness in your first comment Lindsey. Maybe tipping should be thought of as a form of manners. In every culture manners are different. Not tipping might be likened (in our culture) to not saying please or thank you or even interrupting someone when they are talking to you. No matter what you believe on the topic, the majority of people believe these things to be proper social etiquette and if you don't do them, you look rude. It is the same with tipping. Don't do it and you look terrible. If a group of people don't do it, the group will be seen as rude and terrible. Whether you like it or not, that is the reality. . .