Any healthy adult will tell you that the proper response to being called out on a self-admitted mistake is to have the dignity and wherewithal to own the mistake and work toward improvement in the future. That sounds like a lot of work, though, and apparently Pastor Alois Bell thought so, too.
Pastor Bell, of St. Louis, Missouri, decided to spend her recent Friday evening, January 25, dining with members of her congregation -- a party of ten -- at a local Applebee's franchise. After what we assume was a hearty meal -- or "Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood," as it is known in certain circles -- the party received their check, which was then split among the group as requested.
Here is where the fun begins. The checks contained -- per restaurant policy -- a mandatory 18 percent gratuity incurred for parties over eight people. No big deal; it's a policy we may not all agree with, but one that is typically found written in plain sight at most restaurants with this practice. This did not sit well with Pastor Bell, who quickly sprang into action. It should be noted that by "action," we mean "heretofore unseen levels of passive-aggressive bullshit and childishness."
Rather than explain, we'll just show you:
Yup, she stiffed a teenager at a fast casual restaurant out of six dollars in the name of God. Seemingly not feeling fully justified in her actions, Bell was sure to add her title to the check as well -- we can't just have laypeople skating on checks all willy-nilly -- lest anyone question her piety.
Now if this were where our story ended, there wouldn't be much to talk about. Sadly, it would be just another night at thousands of restaurants across the country. Stories of unusual, outlandish and invisible tips are commonplace, as any server will tell you.
A friend who now works at a fine dining restaurant in Houston reports that her favorite stiffing came while she worked at TGIFridays at the hands of a man who returned his improperly cooked steak and received a replacement. He passed on tipping on the $200+ tab, noting: "Your job is not hard, do it right." While the basic concept of the kitchen and waitstaff's separate job descriptions seems to have escaped the gentlemen in our example, plenty of cheapskates don't even bother justifying their behavior.
Alas, our story soldiers on, because apparently people who don't like to tip would rather keep that information between themselves, the server they are screwing over and God.
Unfortunately for Bell, a server at the Applebee's took a photo of the offending receipt and posted it to the popular social news site Reddit, where it began to spread quickly across the interwebs. It should be noted that Reddit, like many other corners of the Internet, is not known for taking injustices, no matter how big -- or in this case small -- lying down. Resourceful amateur detectives quickly sleuthed out Bell's identity along with information about her church and before long, news reached Bell that she and her "tip" had gone viral.
When contacted by media, Bell claimed "a lapse in judgment." As she told The Smoking Gun in an interview, "My heart is really broken," adding: "I've brought embarrassment to my church and ministry." Well, that sounds downright remorseful. Good on you, Ms. Bell. We all do stupid stuff now and again. Forgive and forget, we say.
Oh, wait. Pastor Bell left out the part where neither her lapse in judgment nor her broken heart prevented her from calling the restaurant and demanding every single person involved be fired. Remorse works in mysterious ways.
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As of writing, the server who posted the receipt to Reddit -- Chelsea Welch, who is interviewed by Consumerist here -- has in fact been fired. Next time, Chelsea, be sure to block out names and signatures if you want to keep your job. Or don't; the $3.50 an hour is worth far less than the Internet comedy gold you supplied.
As for Pastor Bell, the contact Web site for her 15-member strip-mall ministry has been inoperable since early Thursday and we imagine she has probably received quite a few prank pizza deliveries by now, courtesy of the Internet. Hope you weren't looking for a tip, Domino's delivery dude!