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Sun Feb 3, 2013, 09:43 PM

The Waitress, the Pastor and the Applebee's Meltdown...a perfect internet storm. [View all]

Reflecting on the story of the waitress who posting the note left by a pastor (on the bill) online, which led to her firing, which led to a storm of criticism against the Pastor and Applebee's, I find myself amazed by how the internet took this otherwise innocuous incident and turned it into a mini-French Revolution. A perfect storm of fury in favor of the working man. If anything should be a warning to the 1% and big corporations of America's anger over the robbery and theft of jobs, fair wages, health care, pensions, homes and the rest, this is it. This, my friends, is the rumblings of the mob, and it's far more frightening (or ought to be) to those in capitalistic power than anything Occupy managed with all its protests.

And we need to keep it going. We need to make use of it. Yes. I mean it.

Let's start with what it was "really" all about. Because I know it's come to be about how badly service folk are paid, about the arrogance of entitled customers, about management that won't support its employees, and about corporations with hypocritical policies and indifference to being what is done in their name. But, if we look at it objectively, that wasn't what it was about. Not really.

The story: A pastor and her party came into Applebees and were charged an 18% gratuity. Now that had to have been paid, it was part of the bill. So never mind if it was paid or not (it probably was) or if, as the Pastor later protested, a tip was left or not, of if the waitress who posted the bill was the server. None of that is known for sure at this moment--nor is it relevant. What mattered at the time was this: the pastor wrote on the bill that god gets a 10% tithe and why should she pay 18% gratuity? Now here we have the nut of the whole deal. The pastor--smugly and rudely--was *probably* pointing out to Applebee's that a woman of the cloth (herself) earned a modest amount for doing holy work (god, after all, doesn't get that 10% "tip"--the church and those working for it do); why should Applebee's demand more doing "less godly" work--i.e. for serving food and getting rich off it?

Now, perhaps this was a comment to the wait staff directly--or perhaps it was to the restaurant. It *should* have been to the restaurant, as charging 18% for the party was their policy and the wait staff had nothing to do with it. If it was a comment to the wait staff, then the pastor was even more outrageously rude. And clueless as she imagined in this day and age of the internet that writing a snide little comment on this policy--her own little moral lesson as it were--would remain between her and the restaurant. Once it was posted, however, it stopped being about a smug pastor trying to teach a restaurant (wait staff?) a moral lesson, and became emblematic for so much more. First, because the pastor complained about the posting of her note (why? shouldn't she be proud of her message?); second, because the manager fired the waitress over it (why? Applebee's says policy is against posting customer names--valid, but they've posted good messages on bills with names). And, last, because Applebee's handled the whole mess so badly. They now face a slew of boycotts, cancellations, protests, etc.

Ironically, that note from the pastor turned this one waitress into a very Jesus, a flashpoint for America's anger over how workers are and have been treated of late. I'm telling you, Unions should be using this waitress and her story for membership recruitment!

Here is the greater irony: at every point there was a chance to stop this from becoming a full-on storm. The pastor could have admitted that she should have handed her "moral lesson" note to the manager (who set the policy) rather than leaving it for the wait staff--and those on the internet--to see it as a saying that hard working, poorly paid Americans weren't worthy of a little extra money for serving up a large party. As a Christian, she ought to have forgiven the waitress, taken this as god's lesson to be chagrined and humbled, and urged the manager to be lenient. She didn't--maybe she panicked and didn't think of that, but at that point her story changed from rude customer to entitled customer. Next: the manager didn't have to fire the waitress, he could have suspended her and/or had her apologize--he didn't. At that point, his story changed from franchise owner trying to handle an awkward problem to that of bully siding with rude and cruel customer over his hard working, underpaid wait staff. And Applebee's, well, as one comment advised, they probably should have "shut-up," shut down their site and gotten on the phone to manager, waitress and pastor, sitting them all down to fix this. They did not, and now they are the uncaring corporation, emblematic of every uncaring corporation out there.

I can't say I'm sorry for this change of narrative, for how it altered from a squall to a hurricane. In fact, I think we should take advantage of the storm while we've got it. All this may not have really been about the working man/woman and how badly they've been treated and are treated--but now it is about that. Big revolutions with big changes have started out from smaller things. So long as we've got it, we should run with it.

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Reply The Waitress, the Pastor and the Applebee's Meltdown...a perfect internet storm. [View all]
Moonwalk Feb 2013 OP
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