Remember the story about the waitress who posted a restaurant tip receipt to Reddit from an apparent "pastor" who wrote "I give God 10%, why do you get 18?" with an emphatic "0" in the tip line? She got fired.
"I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke," Chelsea told The Consumerist. "I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining."
She was fired from her job at Applebee's on Wednesday once her story went viral online.
Chelsea explained that the pastor's no-tip receipt wasn't even her own, but that she posted it on behalf of another server she works with on Reddit's Atheist page. The irony of the photo was that the computer had already added a gratuity to the "pastor" table, as it was a group of over 20. Though the "pastor" attempted to split the group up to avoid the gratuity, his final ticket was for eight diners, at which point the gratuity kicks in.
There's a bit more to the story, though. The original image posted to Reddit by Chelsea showed the apparent pastor's full signature. She didn't edit it out because she thought it was illegible.
But random Internet users tried to identify the self-described "pastor" from the signature. She attempted to throw them off with false physical descriptions, re-posted the image without the signature, and worked with moderators to get rid of all personal information. Despite her attempts to keep the identities of everyone involved secret, users continued to speculate and attempt to find out the identity of the pastor.
"I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting," Chelsea said.
The story was picked up from The Consumerist and reported on by a variety of other media outlets, including Yahoo and Gawker. Chelsea said that the customer who left the no-tip receipt caught wind of the story, called her Applebee's, and demanded that everyone, servers and managers working that night, be fired.
"When I posted this, I didn't represent Applebee's in a bad light," she said. "In fact, I didn't represent them at all. I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn't break any specific guidelines in the company handbook — I checked. But because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public, Applebee's has made it clear that they would rather lose a dedicated employee than lose an angry customer. That's a policy I can't understand."
Chelsea has also said that she still won't reveal any accurate information or attempt to identify the pastor who left her the no-tip receipt, not even in the spirit of revenge for losing her job. Still:
"If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone," she notes. "It's strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed."
She also said that she's completely baffled by the pastor's connection between the Christian practice of tithing, for which 10 percent of one's income is given to the church, and gratuity, which asks for a percentage of the total bill to be given to the server.
"I've been stiffed on tips before," she says, "but this is the first time I've seen the Big Man has been used as reasoning."
Personally, I would like to talk to the so-called "pastor." If you're reading this, send me an email and we'll set up an anonymous chat. You've got my word that we won't use any personal information you don't want shared, but we'd like your side of the story. You can email me at email@example.com (mind the spelling) or reach me on Facebook through a message if you're more comfortable.