Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Christian Buyer's Club

We are officially out of the restaurant business after having sold our last remaining venue. I only mention it because now it means I am free to tell the horror stories. But before I get to those, I want to start with the most amazing thing I learned operating a restaurant in this here (more southern) neck of the woods: The Christian Buyer’s Club.

One day as a group of women were leaving, one of them stopped their server and handed him something. He came back to the bar laughing.

“Here’s my tip,” he said as he dropped a business card on the bar.

I picked it up and saw that the only thing on it was a Bible quote. (I wish I remembered which quote, but I don’t.)

“But they left you some cash too, right?” I asked.

“Nope, that’s it. A chance to save my soul, I guess.”

He just laughed it off and forgot about it, but I was stunned. I wasn’t opposed to a customer leaving a Bible quote tip but a cash tip was in order as well. I’m not sure how it went over when the server’s rent was due, and he handed the Bible quote to his landlord.

On a later occasion, another server approached me in the kitchen.

“My table of twelve wants to know if they can get a discount since they are a Christian Bible study group,” she asked.

I really didn’t know what to say. I had no idea that being a Christian was like being a member of Sam’s Club or Costco. Do they have some sort of membership card?

I looked at the ticket which totaled $36 for three split entrĂ©es . . . and twelve waters. I told the server, “If Jesus Christ walked in the door right now, I would not give him a discount.” We, too, had rent to pay.

(SIDENOTE: If you ever want to get discounts or comps in a restaurant, visit often and get to know the staff, and/or spend a lot of money there!)

I’m pretty sure if Jesus himself would have walked in, he wouldn’t have asked for a discount. On the other hand, he’d probably order the flounder and a bottle of wine, take advantage of the free bread, then multiply everything for all the customers. On the way out, being of the kind and generous sort, he might say, “And hey, don’t forget to take care of your servers!”

And most of the other diners would go tell their friends: “Yep. Saw Jesus in a restaurant and got a free meal. But then he made sure we left a nice tip, so that part kind of sucked.”

And who knew that WWJD stands for “What Would Jesus Discount?” Do religions compete on this? (“I don’t know, Father, this heaven thing sounds nice and all but I got a Jehovah’s Witness offering me 10% off on dry cleaning.”)

Have I missed the fine print in the brochures? (“Join now and transfer balances to the Jesus credit card with no annual fee! Jesus doesn’t want you to pay interest until 2018!”)

The hard sells?

Minister: “What can I do to get you into the baptismal font today?”

Shopper: “Well, since I keep one of those fish symbols thingies on my Toyota, maybe a little discount on oil changes?”

Minister: “I tell you what. Get three of your friends to join you in the baptismal font, free tire rotation for the life of your car!”

Shopper: “With that symbol on it, my car has eternal life, right?”

Minister: “Um yes, of course. Jesus wants you to drive that car through the pearly gates, but he’s thinking maybe something more American?”

Coupons in the church bulletin? (“Like Jesus, turn your wine into water by bringing in a bottle of water to Crazy Al’s Liquor Store and walk out with a free four-pack of Boone’s Farm Wine Coolers, strawberry or apple, your choice!”)

You might think this would make me cynical, and you would be wrong. It has turned me into a Bible scholar. I now spend my free time scanning the gospel for the section where Jesus says, “Mention my name and get valuable discounts on services and merchandise!”

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