The Musings 21 by Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla
Read: Genesis 16
Having a dinner out or going out to eat in a restaurant is a very common thing that we all do. One of the etiquettes that is followed while in a restaurant is offering tips to steward or waiters who served you. Applebee's; one of the famous restaurants of USA, is now in the news with respect to a unique way that a customer responded to the percentage of tip that was enforced in the restaurant, the response and reaction that followed thereafter has brought in a national attention to this incident. In Applebee's, an additional 18% is added as tip amount along with the bill, that is given to the customers. This happened in the Applebee's restaurant at the St. Louis area. The people now in the eye of a comical storm are not only the restaurant but also the waitress and to top of it the customer involved in this issue is a female pastor. It seems that the pastor along with eight other people had come to Applebee's to dine. At the end of the dining, the pastor was given a bill in which along with the charges for menu that was ordered, another 18% was added into the bill as tip. That is when the female pastor instead of paying 18% tip, decided to scribble on the bill, that the waitress had given her, with the following statement; "I give God 10%, why do you get 18%"?. When the waitress found the scribbled note on the bill, she found it both insulting and comical. She decided to upload this comical bill to Reddit and soon the bill became viral and all over the net. The female pastor came to know about the posting of her scribbling on the bill, and she complained to the manager of the restaurant who on receiving this complaint fired the concerned waitress. The waitress was sacked because in the perception of the restaurant she had violated the pastor or the customer's right to privacy. The waitress feels that she has been humiliated and that there is no valid reason for firing her. She told the news agencies that she did not intend to hurt anyone by posting the picture of the bill. But now she feels that things have gone too far. She feels hurt that she has been fired for embarrassing a person who insults a server and that too using the name of God. With controversy surrounding this whole episode, reputation of the female pastor also went down hill and now she feels remorse and admits that she made a lapse in her judgment. At the end of the day, I don't think both the waitress and female pastor would have ever thought that their small intentional or unintentional action would have created such a furor and that too all over the world. Looking at the whole episode we may think at different perspectives. Is the restaurant fair in charging 18% tip along with bill?. When the pastor saw that 18% was charged to the bill, could she have some other alternative if she was unaware of this trade practice?. With the waitress being fired, she is also at a great loss of her job, a loss that resulted out of a very casual action that she did without thinking of the consequences. Though this incident seems to be very comical, it brings to light that that we need to be serious not only with regards to matters pertaining to one's personal life but also the way we deal with others, especially with respects to the words that we use, the responses that we do and so on. What happens is that nowadays we take things very casual, not concerned nor ready to think whether the actions that we do, does it bring about blessing to others or does it cause pain and suffering on others. To take our life and our actions seriously is what is needed. Not only being serious in what we do, but also being genuine in our actions.
In Genesis 16, we find an incident that relates to the background of how Ishmael was born to Abraham. The birth of Ishmael was a scheme planned by Sarai the wife of Abraham. When Sarai realizes that she is not able to bear a son to Abraham, she thinks of a very wonderful but dubious plan. She tells Abraham that since she could not bear any son for him, He should consider their Egyptian maid servant Hagar as his wife so that through her they could have offspring. Abraham listens to his wife and later Hagar become pregnant. That is when Sarai realizes her folly and out of sheer jealousy, she begins ill-treating the pregnant Hagar. When not satisfied with the ill-treatment that she metes out to Hagar, Sarai poisons the mind of Abraham and makes him feel guilty by telling him that " You are responsible for the wrong that I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me" [ Gen 16: 5]. When the ill-treatment continued we find Hagar running away from Abraham and Sarai. The poignant account of the suffering of Hagar running with her unborn child and how the angel of the Lord helps her is mentioned later in the chapter. But then finally under the command of the angel, Hagar returns back to Sarai after she hears the promise given to her by the angel that she will have a number of descendents. The whole episode of Abraham, Sarai and Hagar and the trouble that Hagar went through points to how passively or lightly Sarai took her relationship with Abraham and the counsel that she gave to him. Though she had good intentions in the beginning when she proposed to Abraham to take Hagar as his wife, she may not have thought about the consequences that this casual action could have resulted into. This casual or passive action of Sarai actually brought two dominant factions later on this earth and the repercussion of that is still seen in history. The action taken by Sarai and Abraham teaches us that, life is not something that we need to take it casually, decisions in life are to be taken seriously, every action that we do in public and private should be expressions of our faith and witness of our Christian living rather than being very passive of what we do, what we say and how we act or react. Both the waitress and the female pastor in the Applebee's incident would never imagined that their casual action would cost so much in their life. Let us learn a lesson in life that for every action that we do in our life, though the repercussion are sometimes borne by someone else, there will be times when those very actions may come back to us with a revenge.