A few years ago, my (very) militant atheist friend and I were having dinner at the IHOP here in Tulsa. Our waitress was perfectly competent. Not outstanding or anything, but attentive enough. About what you’d expect at an IHOP (unless your IHOP is really shitty). At the end of our meal, she brought us our separate checks and on the back of each, she’d written, “God bless you.” This offended and infuriated my friend and he said he wasn’t going to give her a tip. No tip at all. I thought this was a pretty extreme reaction and told him so, but he insisted on leaving her nothing. So, I looked at both of our checks, calculated what the tip should have been for both of them and paid his tip and mine. In the car afterwards, he really lit into me, saying I’d embarrassed him horribly by paying his tip. I told him I didn’t think he could possibly be any more embarrassed than I would have been if I hadn’t paid his tip for him because at IHOP, you pay up front at the cash register and the waitress wouldn’t have known who tipped how much, just that she’d only gotten about half what she should’ve from our table.
My feeling on tipping is that one should always tip fifteen percent at the very least, no matter how bad the service is. If the service is so bad that you’re tempted to not tip or to under-tip your server, you should tip them anyway, then inform the management. I won’t go into all the reasons I feel this way, but partly it’s because if you don’t leave a tip or leave a small one, the server doesn’t necessarily know why you did so and may just think you’re cheap. If you tell their manager, though, the manager can deal with the issue and (hopefully) make sure it doesn’t happen again. If that means firing the server, well, so be it.
Anyway, my friend and I were discussing the IHOP incident again recently and I told him that in addition to being an extreme reaction to what she’d written on our checks, not tipping her wouldn’t have done any good in the long run because she still wouldn’t have known why she didn’t get tipped. Plus—and this is really the most important point, I think—she didn’t really deserve to get shafted for what she did. It’s possible—no, I’d say probable—that she was only trying to be nice and give her service an extra personal touch, not proselytize. Yes, the extra touch was religious in nature, but I think it’s likely that it didn’t even occur to her that it might possibly offend someone. I told my friend he should have tipped her, but also told her—just as a piece of friendly advice—that he wasn’t happy about what she’d written on his check and that if she continued to do it, she ran the risk of really offending someone in the future. I told him that I just didn’t think she deserved to be punished for trying to be nice to her guests. He thought about it and said, “You know, you’re right. I should have told her that I was unhappy about the note. But I still wouldn’t have tipped her.”
So… Was my friend being a grade-A asshole, or am I being too sensitive? Should the waitress have been tipped or not? For that matter, should my friend even have mentioned the note to her or just let the matter drop? What say you, Dopers?
P. S. Yes, I’m aware that my thread title isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s not meant to be taken literally. My friend would never base a server’s tip on their personal religious beliefs. I just wanted a thread title that would catch everyone’s eye. It was also my (probably pathetic) attempt at humor.