Why is that certain professions carry the unfortunate stereotype of not being a “real” job, the kind of categorization that somehow demotes the worker to being less than capable or efficient because the pay is less or the work not “professional”? I’ve recently struggled with this anomaly in logic because of my profession: I am a waitress. It is not who I am, it is what I do, and even though it is not a desk job requiring a fancy wardrobe and punching a time clock card to get my 8-5 salary, I do provide a service and I do make money.
Serving is generally easy. Get somebody what they want and keep them satisfied. But then again, that means dealing with human nature and that is bound to end poorly sometimes. I can be a hard worker and perform really well, but at the end of the day, my livelihood is dependent on the generosity of those I serve. In plain terms, I live off the tips patrons leave me. Serving at a restaurant is certainly not my life goal, nor is it where I saw myself in my twenties when I was in my teens. I have a college education. Too often I feel like I have to make an excuse for where I am in life right now, as if what I do is not legitimate. That isn’t true. Servers are still people and deserve not to be treated with condescension, just as much as the patron deserves respect.
I had never served before my current job, which I have been doing for close to a year now. And this is one of the saddest, yet truest thing I have learned: Christians and church-goers are among the worst tippers there are. I don’t say that as a blasting accusation; no wait, actually, I do. As someone who claims to follow Jesus, I am embarrassed, horrified, and angered by the way I see my fellow servers treated by those who say they believe the same things I believe. For instance, a large church group came in last week and after being given outstanding service by one of my coworkers, they left a shoddy 7% tip and a pamphlet for their church. Do they know what kind of message that sends to the server? Instead of saying anything remotely close to, “we value you as a person created by a God who loves you,” they angered not just the server but every other worker who heard about it. Church goers are not looked on with any fondness. Hypocritical actions far outweigh words.
Or take the lady I have served multiple times who uses a church-funded credit card and then consistently leaves tips under 10%. Or the Church groups who get angry over long ticket times and then leave negligible tips. Or the pastors who try to evangelize the servers instead of simply encouraging them. Shouldn’t Christians be setting the standard for the world in their actions, if they actually believe what they say they do? True Christ-followers are to be marked by their love and generosity (“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples…” John 13:35).
The afore-mentioned examples are ones that break my heart and can easily ruin my day. As the only proclaiming Christ-follower in my workplace, an action like that not only hurts that pastor or church-goer’s witness and reputation, but it tarnishes mine too. How can I have a spiritual conversation when my coworkers view all Christians in that manner? The lack of respect and money given to me are not what is upsetting; it’s the damage done to another person’s soul.
To be fair, there is likely a lot of ignorance. I was ignorant for a long time of what was acceptable to tip. Although, I was in high school, not a well-paid adult. Everyone should know that 15% is the baseline for tipping; like I said, it is the main source of income for most people. But for a server who has really worked hard and gone above and beyond, or even just one that has done a decent job, something more than that is how a patron expresses their satisfaction, certainly more so than by anything they say. It is absolutely no wonder that Christians have a bad reputation in the world if they cannot do something as simple as tipping a server well. I am not a fan of trite or cute little sayings, but in this instance, asking What Would Jesus Do? would actually be effective. Know that actions truly do speak louder than words, or pamphlets, or tracts left on the table.