Sunday night at a restaurant in a small southern town—a formula that equates a post-apocalyptic battle zone. Welcome to the Thunderdome.
Things may look busy enough on the dining room floor, but in the kitchen it’s nothing less than Normandy, and in my case there is definitely a rising casualty rate. Friday and Saturdays are probably just as busy as any Sunday night, however there is an intriguing dynamic that comes into play on Sunday. That dynamic is the “Christian table.”
I don’t know why, but the idea of being a waiter has always been appealing to me. It seemed like the perfect job for any financially strapped college student, and that is just the situation I happened to find myself in currently. I had friends who told me how difficult it was dealing with rude and demanding people. I’d also heard from countless others that the “Church crowd” is hands down the worst group of people to wait on. I never believed them, mostly because I was always part of the Church crowd. Unfortunately, I’ve come to find out how right they were.
The only reason I got this group of Sunday night regulars in the first place was because I owed the girl who had that particular section a favor. Being the new guy, taking this table was like an initiation into the crew of waiters. I gladly took it on, thinking to myself, “these are people just like me, people who follow Christ, and it would be an honor for me to serve them.”
One guy had a little pocket bible, probably the New Testament, and he would pull it out from time to time and make sure that I saw it. I don’t know why, because after about 10 minutes he and the rest of his crew had blown any chance to tell me anything about God, although he must have thought I needed to hear it. After all, anyone who works on a Sunday night can’t be a Christian right?
I ran around for the better part of an hour getting them dozens of teas, getting their kids another egg and wiping up where they had spilled their drinks because their parents were too into whatever it was they were talking about. They all split their checks, but they didn’t sit in any kind of order; they were all scattered about and expected me to know without asking who was together and who was separate. On top of this they were rude and acted as though I was an annoyance to them, unless they needed something.
They didn’t even leave 10 percent. And for a person who lives off of the income from tips, that hurt.
Normally, I’d be pretty angry if a 10-person group stiffed me like that, but not angry enough to write an article about it. However on this occasion due to the interesting circumstances, I feel it is necessary. Here’s why:
When other servers got word that I had the "Church table" they all immediately patted me on the back and told me everything would be all right. My “non-Christian” co-workers automatically volunteered to help me out because they knew what was coming. They told me that I might as well not waste my time by trying hard at this table, because they were going to be rude and leave me next to nothing. The entire staff at the restaurant, including the manager on duty, had nothing but contempt for this group of people—the Church people—because time and again they come in and treat the staff like second-class citizens.
I wonder what their pastor spoke on that night. It obviously wasn’t humility, patience, generosity, love, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness or anything like what Christ spoke on while he was on earth. Maybe it was how to balance their finances, or “10 Steps to Living A Happier Life.”
I had an up-close and extremely personal view that night of how many people see American Christians. I hate to admit that my co-workers were right when they told me the “Church table” would be one of the most frustrating things I would encounter at my job. Now, because of the way my colleagues have been treated Sunday after Sunday, their hearts have been hardened to the message of Christ. I’m fortunate that I came to the truth earlier in my life and have the realization that not all who call themselves Christians actually follow the principles of Christ, or for that matter have any clue whatsoever what those principles are.
So now every Sunday, I witness the painful, spiritual deaths of my friends because those who are supposed to be saved treat them worse than those who have never even heard the message of Christ. If we don’t begin to love those whose job it is to serve, then the casualty rate on the front lines of the American Church will continue to grow.