Eternal Disappointment: Money Tracts

On Halloween I took my kids trick or treating. This post isn’t about that. Save it for next year. It’s about the house that was handing out religious tracts.

I was going to write about this earlier, but then Jon Acuff wrote about it, and I didn’t want to copy him. Then I figured, imitation is the best form of flattery, right? Besides, my story is a bit different.

A few houses into our candy run we had established a pattern. They would run to the door, and I would watch from the sidewalk. They would run back, and I would remind them to say thank you.

At this one house, the bowl was left out on the front porch. (Yeah, it’s that kind of neighborhood.) And the kids suddenly got very excited and began yelling about $20. After they calmed down they showed me a crisp $20 bill in each bag. For just about half a second I was amazed by the generosity of the treat-givers. Then I remembered that sometimes people make tracts that look like money.

My kids were very disappointed.

Now, I’m not against tracts. I wrote one (never published) when I was younger. It’s not even all money tracts. We have a $trillion tract at work, I forget who gave it to us. But no one would ever mistake it for real money.

But who though that making tracts that look like actual money was a good idea? Are they that desperate to get someone to touch it? Sure you grab them on the front end, but do you really want to start the most important conversation ever with disappointment?

Some of these tracts even ask “Disappointed?” as a way to start the message.

I have never heard of one person who gave their life to Jesus because they grabbed a fake $20.[Update: I have now heard of 1 person. She found her’s on the floor of a grocery store. Not a Trick or Treat bucket, or left as a tip, etc… So, 1 person in 45 years. She is the exception to the rule.]

But I have heard a lot of stories (both firsthand and second hand) about people who have been turned off by people who leave fake money as a way to witness. The worst are from waitresses who work Sundays. They serve on a huge group of Christians after church, and go to gather their tip to see two or three $20 bills along with a couple of singles. They snatch the money up to realize that instead of a $43 tip, they got a $3 tip and two tracts they will never read. Instead they will talk badly about these Christians who didn’t even care enough to leave 15% with their religious propaganda. If you must leave a religious tract (of any kind) at a restaurant, please make sure you leave it alongside a generous tip.

I’m glad my kids know about Jesus already, because if this had been their first exposure to Christianity it would have started with disappointment, not hope or love.

I will never understand the use of money tracts. If you want to use money to gain an audience for the Gospel, at least use real money! Hand someone a $20 and ask them to listen to you for five minutes. That will be much more effective than the eternal disappointment of fake money tracts.

Gratuity Included

I know why some restaurants do this, but it really bothers me. At many restaurants if you have a large party the tip is automatically included. This amount ranges from 15% to 18% added to the total of the bill.

I have no problem tipping. I have little problem with taking steps to make sure your server doesn’t get stiffed on a large party. If the party is paying with one check I can almost excuse it. But if the party is split into separate checks, adding and automatic tip makes less sense. The chances of getting completely stiffed on a tip drop drastically.

My frustration is compounded by the fact that most of the time I never know if the tip has been added in. The server never mentions it. The check lists it next to the tax,not among the other entrees. The last time this happened I only noticed because the slip I sign said “additional tip”.

As a rule, I do not tip extra when the eatery decides to add this gratuity to the check. That means that the server actually makes less money when they wait on large groups that I attend because I almost always tip 20% (unless the service was just horrible.). I understand that they are protecting the wages of the server, who is tied up with one table and would make next to nothing if they didn’t get a decent tip. I understand that.

But it still bugs me when I am not told about the auto-tip at the front, and have to review the ticket under a microscope to find out of I am being charged one.