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Getting stiffed as a server, a person who often can’t live off their hourly wage, is infuriating (just ask this bar that served Kendall Jenner). But getting stiffed for discriminatory reasons is a whole different level of anguish.
Samantha Heaton is a waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings in Rockport, Illinois. Last week, a family spent $60.55 at the chain and chose to skip out on a tip. Despite the fact that sexuality or politics didn’t come up during the entire meal, the family saw Heaton’s rainbow tattoo and proceeded to criticize her for it.
“Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus!” the family wrote on the receipt. “Bad tatoo [sic].”
In an interview with the River Rock Times, Heaton said she felt “hurt” by the tip, in part because she went out of her way to make sure the family enjoyed their time at the restaurant.
“I went above and beyond for this couple, and for them to leave that [note] kind of hurt,” Heaton said. “Like, I have bills to pay too.”
But for Heaton, it’s not just about paying the bills. The family came with two young children, still in their elementary school years. Heaton is worried the parents are teaching their kids how to hate.
“The kids are going to be under the impression that it will be OK to discriminate against anybody,” Heaton said to the Times.
Heaton’s coworker Joelle Nicole Maish turned to Facebook in her defense, criticizing the family for their tip message. She pointed out how a gay woman could be a lesbian and a Christian, and that a religious family shouldn’t judge their server for her sexual orientation.
“I would just like to say that being gay does NOT MEAN you don’t believe in God or Jesus,” Maish wrote. “And people who are ‘religious’ should not disrespect or act in such ways to other people.”
I would just like to say that being gay does NOT MEAN you don't believe in God or Jesus. And people who are "religious"...Posted by Joelle Nicole Maish on Saturday, August 5, 2017
Maish’s post has since gone viral. Many came to Heaton’s defense, pointing out how Jesus would most certainly show generosity to the waitress instead of denying her a tip.
How Jesusy of them— Jon Stall (@JonStall2009) August 10, 2017
Jesus would tip you, and would tip over 20%. I'm so sorry. https://t.co/3o1lI1uDLh— Nash Scott (@natinafajita) August 7, 2017
Hypocritical because the Bible talks to so much about how Jesus loves EVERYONE. Bottom line, it wasn't the Christian thing to do and does— Gabs (@gabbytayylor) August 10, 2017
Others were amazed that the family would have the audacity to attack the server. Some even pointed out that it’s wrong to assume Heaton’s sexual orientation based on a tattoo alone.
Gay Buffalo Wild Wings Server Denied Tip Because She ‘Doesn’t Love Jesus’ https://t.co/J8yaL2la02 How can they tell that from a tattoo??— ObscureAlternatives (@DrsCoffeeCup) August 10, 2017
Since then, concerned Twitter users have tried sending tip money over to Heaton and Maish. But both insist that they don’t want the money, and they’ll donate any cash they receive. They just want to raise awareness for what happened.
Thank you guys so much! But the post isn't to get money it's to spread awarness!!! I appreciate everyone thank you!!!— Samantha Heaton (@SamanthaHeaton9) August 8, 2017
Just so everyone knows, sam and I don't want the money from people. We posted this just to spread awareness, not to make money❤️— Joelle (@swimminmojo) August 7, 2017
No. And any of the money we get we want to donate— Joelle (@swimminmojo) August 8, 2017
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.