On Etiquettehell, one of the common complaints is tract-tipping. I’ve heard of that done on Customers_suck, too, but I can’t go there anymore, so I don’t know if that’s still a common complaint.

Since everyone who comes here is a decent human being, you don’t know that tract-tipping is when someone “tips” a server by leaving a tract on the table, or by witnessing to the waiter or waitress to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

It’s not just waitstaff, either. A Christian writers conference I went to had problems getting cabs to take attendees from the conference center to the train station or the airport because of the drivers not getting tipped! The woman running the conference had to ask during her opening address that everyone tip the drivers.

I find this abhorrent because “the worker is worth his hire” and people who do this are stiffing the person who relies on tips. You know, “selling the needy for a pair of sandals.” It’s a far better witness to treat others fairly and let them figure out for themselves that you’re doing it because Jesus told you to get a stranglehold on your more selfish instincts. As Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”

This came up again at etiquettehell, and someone asked, “What if the server is a Christian? Do they tip then?” and another person replied, “They’d probably find a way to complain even if Jesus was their server.”

At which point, I came up with this, and I’m copying it here because it was well-received *and* I’ve got a ton of stuff to do with the move and so had my eye out for an easy weblog entry.

Cheapskate: Are you a Christian?
Jesus: Well, yes. I’m Jesus Christ.
Cheapskate: Huh?
Jesus: The greatest will serve as the least, and I’ve seen the way you treat servers, so I’ve given Cheryl the night off, and tonight I’ll be your server. May I take your order?
Cheapskate: What denomination are you?
Jesus, ignoring the question: I recommend you try the salmon, but I’ll ask the chef to prepare it without so much butter due to your cholesterol… Actually, I’ll just lower your cholesterol for you so you can have it with the butter. Here’s a basket of bread that will never run out.
Cheapskate: I’d like a glass of red wine.
Jesus: Take a sip from your water glass and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Cheapskate: So you’re already saved?
Jesus: Yep.
Cheapskate: You don’t want my tract?
Jesus: Don’t need it.
Cheapskate: I didn’t see you at church this Sunday.
Jesus: No, somehow I didn’t think you had.

(And yes, before anyone points it out, I know Jesus was Jewish. But he could honestly say he follows the teachings of Jesus, since, you know…being Jesus and all…)


  1. cathrl

    As far as I’m concerned, that’s not tipping. I mean, if someone feels it’s the right thing to do to leave their waitress a tract or whatever, fine. Just don’t pretend to yourself that it has anything to do with whether or not you should leave a tip.

  2. philangelus

    I’d go one further: I don’t think someone should leave a tract unless they’re tipping at least 20%. That way if the waitstaff thinks anything about Christians, it’s “By golly, they’re great tippers!”

  3. ivyreisner

    I would absolutely love to be able to hand a Christian tract to Jesus, and a pen. I figure if he says it’s accurate, I can ask for his autograph and if not I can ask for his corrections and his autograph. 🙂

  4. philangelus

    But what if he replies like Bucky: “If I start correcting this, you might think any of it actually had merit, and I’d never want to do that”?

    I’ve seen some pretty hate-filled tracts. Some are good. Others… not so much.

    You’ve got God’s name written on your heart. And I think baptism counts as a divine autograph, so I’m good to go too. 😉

  5. Jenni

    I agree about being a good tipper. What does that say about the “prosperity message” if you are a cheapskate?
    Seriously, don’t try to clean the fish before you catch them. 🙂

    I think baptism counts as a divine autograph
    I really like that!

  6. CricketB

    I like Ivy’s comment.

    I never heard of “tract tipping”. It’s rude and insulting. A tract can be easily tossed in the garbage, or read on my own time, so isn’t as bad as a conversation, but it should never replace a normal cash tip.

    Most “converters” of any faith leave me cold. I appreciate that they are trying to save me, but at the moment I have a living to make and shopping to do and a plane to catch.

    If you want to convert me, start by being someone I admire, the way Philangelus does. Help me make my living, do my shopping, and catch my plane. I appreciate your asking God to bless me, but only if it’s clear you aren’t trying to convert me.

  7. CricketB

    Okay, now you’ve got me thinking about times I’ve annoyed other people, and their reactions, and I wonder if sometimes it’s because they feel I’m trying to convert them. Maybe not to my religion, but to other things. Something for me to think about and be aware of.