Information does tend to flow in trends through the social media conduits. For sheer lack of time, I find myself being fed ideas on what to think about in a given day, or what book to put on the reading list for the new year. And that’s okay, we tend to see what’s in front of us by design. Such is our need for community.
Of late, a bit of chatter that seemed to be recurrent in my November social feed troughs are several stories about the behavior of members of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ at the table. Not the communion table, mind you, but the local eatery. Said stories regard the practice of tipping of food servers. One article even asked, “what would Jesus tip?”
My wife and I have a long history of a debate that I lovingly refer to as “The Tip”. The Tip Debate began back before our eleven-year marriage. It even threatened said-marriage from ever materializing at one point in time. It caused me to seriously question my life decisions and God’s will in my life (Lord, forgive me but it’s the truth). In an effort to preserve the union, the Tip Debate has caused me to black list certain establishments wherein my wife has formerly been employed due to the unbearable dining experience of trying to enjoy a meal and maintain rare adult conversation while she leaves mid-sentence to go find the maitre d’ in order to report an observed insufficiency in staff performance. Yeah. It was a dark time.
An old friend, with what some would refer to as a sense of the humorous, had a propensity for the charming habit of placing a stack of brand new one dollar bills on the table, in plain view of the desperately stressed, over-worked and under-appreciated server. As the attendee would approach the table, my friend’s keen gaze would intensify and his hand would hover over the meager mound of moolah a. One wrong move, and he would swipe away one of the dollars with a relished drama. No tip for you!
I’m happy to report that today I am in a position to regard myself as somewhat of a good tipper, which is closer to where my wife wants me to be. All was well on that front.
But then these shysters in sheep’s clothing have to come along and stir up the coals of a long quelled discussion on proper tipping etiquette. The first to come to my attention was the story of Christian diners who left a “tip tract”. You’ve heard of these ingenious devices that turn the two-edged sword of the Word into a knife in the ribs? They consist of what appears to be a respectable tip – a tenner, a Jackson, a Benjamin, WHAT?!? – but once removed from the bill holder by the server, it is revealed to be a slight-of-hand Gospel witness all up in what was your momentarily excited face.
Another such instance of the golden tip was a tale circulating about Christian patrons who left no tip whatsoever. At least, not in monetary form. Rather, an explanatory note was left that read: Sorry, but I can’t tip as I do not agree with your lifestyle, Love you (emoticon winky, bemused, apologetic smileyface, tear). Treasures in heaven, y’all, which you will never enjoy because you won’t ever get there lest ye REPENT!!! And I’ll give you your pen back if you give me an extra mint (they’re wafer thin). Bill Maher couldn’t believe it b
The Internet Justice Brigade (IJB) wasted no time in exposing this story as false and discrediting the former Marine as a troubled soul with an instagram account and a history of conduct issues – reportedly. Wounded warrior indeed. Your chosen means can weaken your cause.
The story was then book-ended by a tale of the most bodacious tip ever left in the name of Christ. Customary gratuity is bush league to @TipsForJesus c. That’s one way to do that, steward. I hope you’re still giving thanks to YahWeh when the APR kicks in on that American Express. May we all aspire to such generosity at sports bars.
You know the kind of tipping story I’d like to read? One that mentions the vocational courses in Europe that can last as long as two years or more before restaurateurs will allow be-gloved servers to hit the floor and represent their brand. And how no one is entitled to an income just for showing up, especially if they cannot fulfill their job role in a satisfactory way that is equal to or greater than their agreed upon compensation. And I say that as a person who has worked in kitchens and on wait staffs, and stunk at it. Your relationship with Jesus may get you a job, but it’s still up to you to see it done.
I personally like the stories of innovators in the food industry who have raised their pay scales, done away with Darwinian tipping system, and won lifelong loyalty in customers (and employees) in doing sod. Showing up again ought to be all the gratitude any of us require. A little extra expression of gratitude – a manifestation of appreciation in tangible means? Well, that’s straight gravy. Serve your neighbor as you would be served. Judge your neighbors service as your would have your service judged.
A little Capon is appropriate, I believe:
‘O Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat, and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us grace to live as true folk – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve thee as though hast blessed us – with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine’. – Robert Farrar Capon, 1925-2013 e
- from the Irish moll oir – pile of gold, Daniel Cassidy, How the Irish Invented Slang, 2007 (back)
- http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/10/1254527/-MUST-SEE-Bill-Maher-BLASTS-selfish-Christian-hypocrites-who-don-t-tip-waiters# (back)
- http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/02/248245882/tipsforjesus-is-leaving-thousands-of-dollars-for-servers (back)
- http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2013/08/tipless_restaurants_the_linkery_s_owner_explains_why_abolishing_tipping.html (back)
- The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection (Garden City: Doubleday, 1969), 278 (back)