Today is Sunday, which means that Christians will hit sit-down restaurants in droves after Sunday morning service and, in general, the wait staff of the restaurants will wish they were assigned another shift. Why? Not because of the business. Their tables will certainly be full. No, it is because of a particularly bad reputation Christians have gotten at restaurants: we are lousy tippers.
It is quite the cultural irony. We who are supposed to be the most graceful, the most merciful, the most giving are, in fact, the biggest cheapskates. Anyone working in the restaurant business will tell you so. I can only hope that maybe this is because we are not educated in the practice of restaurant gratuity. Your gratuity is your server’s livelihood. It is what ensures they can afford their basic life expenses. By not tipping appropriately, you jeopardize that. For those who are unaware, the standard practice is (generally speaking) to tip 15-20 percent minimum per check, with 15 being as low as you can go without being insulting, 20 being a good number to shoot for, and anything above that complementing your server. Why? Here’s a fact: the servers of your restaurant may get paid less than minimum wage. In fact, it is likely. How can this be, you ask? It is because your tip is expected to be the server’s primary compensation. You don’t tip: they don’t get paid. You just wasted about 40 minutes of their time (God help you if you lingered long after finishing your meal with no additional tip) for which they will receive practically no compensation. If you cannot afford the tip on top of your meal’s price, you should have bought a less costly item or, better yet, stayed home.
So, what if your service didn’t live up to your expectations? That doesn’t justify your lack of payment for services rendered, even if the server did not deliver those services the best. Often, the circumstances of your food’s arrival are beyond your server’s control. So, your steak was over/under-cooked? That was most likely the kitchen’s fault, not your server’s. Don’t dock your server’s pay because of it. Was your food a bit slow in arriving? If you had to wait a few minutes to get a table, that should have indicated that the restaurant was either very busy or short-staffed (or both). Again, don’t make the server pay (literally) for something out of his or her control. There are numerous circumstance that can happen in a restaurant setting, but just as you would not refuse to pay for an oil change if it took longer than expected, you should also not refuse to pay the ladies and gentlemen who took care of you during your meal.
Christian, be aware that the manner in which you go about your patronage to the stores and restaurants you choose reflects not just upon you, but the One to whom you belong. Your attitude and your generosity should reflect the heart that Christ himself has for these men and women who serve you. You have the ability to make someone’s day great or terrible by your interaction. I have seen young ladies with tears in their eyes because they were left zero or astoundingly small tips. I have, on numerous occasions, tried to “make up” the difference for someone else’s disregard for the server, because the impact of that loss cuts deep. Remember, Christian, we are called to be more. As your waiter or waitress serves you, serve them as Christ.