Waitresses must love Chelsea

Published 1:23 am Saturday, February 2, 2013

Years ago – long before he was my husband – a brouhaha ensued between a waitress who worked for Honey and one of Honey’s lifelong friends.

The friend, who owned a dress shop, was notoriously tight, and not considered a good tipper by waitresses. He met his match on the day that he left a dime for a waitress named Shannon.

Shannon also was his customer, and was equally notorious for her temper, so he should have known better. As soon as her shift was over, she went straight to his shop and announced she wanted to make a payment on her account. By all accounts, the owner looked astounded when Shannon handed him the dime he’d left her at lunch.

“It’s how I make my living,” she explained. “I count on tips to pay my bills.”

I was reminded of this when the story of an Applebee’s waitress being fired went viral this week. The waitress, it seems, lost her job after she posted on social media a message written on a credit card receipt by a minister who objected to an automatic gratuity, an industry standard for large parties.

The pastor, a woman, crossed out the automatic tip and wrote, “I give God 10 percent; why do you get 18?”

The waitress said she posted the comment because she was amused. The pastor was not. She complained to management and the waitress was terminated.

The waitress, Chelsea Welch, said she was surprised because there was nothing in the employee handbook admonishing this behavior. Probably because managers never dreamed they’d see this happen.

“I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone. I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting,” Chelsea said. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”

The story has caused debate over whether gratuities should be automatic instead of a reward for good service, but also prompted former waitresses to share horror stories.

Automatic gratuities are designed to protect servers who take on the task of serving large parties who require more attention, but often don’t tip accordingly.

The pastor has since said she is embarrassed, according to some news accounts. One wonders if she would have given her actions a second thought if those same actions hadn’t been outed in the media.

It seems not a godly thing to do, a minister whose job is service snubbing a fellow employee of service, a waitress.

Chelsea Welch may not get her job back, but I’m betting waitresses everywhere appreciate what she did, and just might get better treatment as a result.