Scroll down for an update to this story including testimony from the fired server:
Well, it looks like there have been some major developments in that "I give God 10%" receipt story: The alleged "pastor" is real and the server who posted the photo has been fired.
A photo posted to Reddit on Tuesday by a user named “GateFlan,” who claims to be a St. Louis-area server, shows how an alleged “pastor” reacted to the restaurant’s automatic gratuity policy:
“I give God 10% -- why do you get 18?” the customer wrote on the receipt, signing it “Pastor [redacted].”
“My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries,” the Reddit user posted along with the above photo.
The “pastor,” who had the server separate the bill for the group's 20 members, was reportedly unhappy that the restaurant included an automatic gratuity of 18 percent on the party's bill.
When we first reported this story, we cautioned that the photo might be part of a hoax designed to stir up some sort of anti-Christian, anti-religious sentiment (as people have pulled similar cons in the past). But it turns out the story is authentic. The pastor is very much a real person, she very much left a “snide” comment on her Applebee’s receipt, she very much complained to management about the Reddit photo, and the waitress is now very much unemployed.
“A pastor says when she left a snide comment on a receipt, she did use bad judgement, but she did leave a tip,” a Fox News affiliate in St. Louis reports
“My heart is really broken,” said Pastor Alois Bell. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”
The 37-year-old pastor explains herself: “What [the photo] didn’t show is the money that I left and that we all left on the table.”
Pastor Bell claims she left $6.29 on the table and her credit card was also charged the tip amount. She also says everyone in the party left cash tips.
“I’ve actually been harassed because of this and it doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Pastor Bell, adding that although her comment may have been in poor taste, she and her ministry do good work in the community and “would never want to tarnish the light of Christianity.”
And what of the Reddit user who posted the photo?
Pastor Bell said she called up the Applebee’s to complain about the “dissemination of her receipt,” as the Smoking Gun puts it, and was told in a follow-up conversation that the waitress was “immediately terminated” by management.
UPDATE -- The Reddit user, Chelsea, tells the Consumerist a little more about the situation:
“I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” says Chelsea, who was dismissed from her job at Applebee’s on Wednesday, as the story began to spread across the Internet. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining.”
Chelsea tells Consumerist that the receipt was actually not even for her table. Rather, the server on the receiving end of the note showed it to Chelsea, who snapped a photo of it later that night.
But wait! There's more [emphasis added]:
Some time on Wednesday, Chelsea says the customer who had left the receipt contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.
“We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” Chelsea said, explaining why Pastor Bell's note got her so hot under the collar. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes."
“I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people,” she adds. “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.”
For its part, Applebee's has released the following statement:
Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.
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(H/T: Jim Hoft). Featured image courtesy Smoking Gun/YouTube.