I found the following in the "Century Marks" section, summarized from an article in the February 1 issue of Christian Science Monitor:
When Pastor Alois Bell's group was hit with a mandatory 18 percent service charge in an Applebee's restaurant in St. Louis, she wrote a biting note on the receipt: "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?"I'm not sure of the moral of this story.
When the waitress posted the receipt online it went viral. Bell later said that writing the note showed a lapse in judgment, but she complained to the restaurant about the unwanted publicity given to her and her church. Applebee's fired the waitress. Shocked by her dismissal, the waitress 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."
Clearly, both women were wrong: The pastor for being understandably outraged but expressing it in way that, ultimately, embarrassed the restaurant. And, of course, the waitress was wrong for being understandably frustrated but expressing it in a public forum, without disguising the identity of the customer, clearly intending to embarrass her.
Applebee's - like many restaurants - charges an 18% gratuity for large groups because, as I understand it, it's more work for the kitchen, wait and bus staff to serve more than six or eight people at a time and get the various meals served all together and on time. So, the waitress does benefit - I'm using the term generously here - from that company policy.
What I'm wondering is why Applebee's thought to fire the employee. I mean, I certainly don't know all the details, but it seems to me that there might have been a few things Applebee's might have done before firing the employee.
Of course, they "want to send a message" - to their employees as well as the public that they will not tolerate public embarrassment of their customers.
And, you know, waitresses are a dime a dozen. Haven't you heard? Unemployment is sky high. Lots of people are standing in line for the chance to have a job as a waitress.
Except, did you read what the waitress wrote. You know, the stuff about "exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered" - and that's on a good day. Most wait staff make less than minimum wage and increase that meager sum by the tips they make.
I'm not certain - and, I'm sure some reader out there will correct me - but I'm betting 18% of my next paycheck that the waitress didn't get 18% of that gratuity - and I'm not talking about what she has to share with the kitchen staff and the guys who buss the tables. I'm thinking that Applebee's is making a cut of that gratuity, too.
It's about the way these two women were set up by corporate greed.
In firing the waitress, Applebee's - or any company in that situation - looks positively virtuous and the two women look foolish.
And, they were, for targeting their outrage at each other.
It was misdirected.
The problem is that many of us don't know - or, once knew but have forgotten - about "pink collar oppression". We don't know - or, once knew but have forgotten - how hard it is to be part of the wait staff in a restaurant - especially in a chain restaurant.
It's been a long time for me, but I remember. And, I remember when our kids were working as part of the wait staff to help pay for their college education.
Sometimes, tips are good. Sometimes, not so much. But the salary is always the same: below minimum wage. And, health insurance? Don't make me laugh. Or, cry. There is none, along with no pension. No vacation days. No sick days.
The underlying assumption is that no one would ever be choose to be a waitress. It's just something you do until you find something "better". A "career". You know. With a decent salary. And, benefits. Like vacation and sick time and health insurance and pension.
Or, a husband. Who can "provide" for you.
Otherwise, well, you "deserve" your lot in life. Tough luck. Destiny and all that.
Like so many in the service industry, wait staff are pretty much invisible. Which is why I always go out of my way to remember the waitresses name and address her by it. And, I always leave 20%. Breakfast or Lunch. Depending on the restaurant, I'll leave 25% for dinner.
Obviously, I don't go out to eat often. My big splurge is going out for a late breakfast at a local diner after church on Sunday. My bill is usually $12. I always leave a $5 tip.
That's my protest against the Sequester.
My plea in this post is to take your gaze away from the two women. And, please, don't get caught up in the the whole "insult the server on religious grounds" argument.
Besides, most people don't give God 10%. Well, not in my experience with most people in The Episcopal Church, anyway. They may "pledge" to the Church, but certainly not 10% of their income. If anything, wait staff get better "tips" than God. Indeed, I'm willing to bet that more Christians spend more money in restaurants than they spend in a "pledge" to the church.
That's not the point.
Instead of getting caught up in this "cat fight", keep your focus on the corporation and the "industry standards" that keep women at the lower end of the pay scale.
It's a set up for misdirected anger - mainly, at each other.
It's an old trick. Don't fall for it. It's called "bartering". It's a strategy to have the oppressed argue over crumbs of 1% while the corporation keeps 99% of the pie.
That's really the strategy of the Sequester. Budget for Meals On Wheels vs. Food Stamps and WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Budget for Head Start vs. Budget for Medicare. All over and against the Budget for Defense vs. Homeland Security. Tax cuts vs. closing tax loop holes for the wealthy.
Bartering also leads to internalized oppression - which is exactly what we're seeing in this situation as described in the Christian Science Monitor.
It's the only way to reverse the effects of bartering and internalized oppression.
The other, of course, is to be as generous as you can be with wait - and hotel - staff.
And, advocate with your local businesses and local, state and federal government officials for a living wage vs a minimum wage.
Or, as Mother Jones said, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."
It's really the only way out of oppression - internalized or imposed.