By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — A server was met with a unique reason why she was denied a tip after she waited on a family at Buffalo Wild Wings last weekend.
It was just another shift for Samantha Heaton Saturday, Aug. 5, at the popular eatery. And there was nothing unusual about a family of five when she took their order. She made friendly conversation, paid attention to when their beverages were getting low and inquired about their experience—everything she was trained to do. Then came the time for the customer pay their $60.55 check.
While not expecting an exuberant tip, a customary 10 to 20 percent is common. Instead, she was left with a note on the customer’s credit card statement explaining why she’d be getting nothing.
The reason: She doesn’t love Jesus.
It’s not that Heaton said she doesn’t love Christ. The subject of religion never came up. Nor did the fact that she’s openly gay. The customer did indicate that it was her tattoo, a rainbow-colored equality sign that drew the spiritual, or lack thereof, conclusion.
“Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus. Bad tatoo (sic),” the note read.
“I went above and beyond for this couple, and for them to leave that (note) kind of hurt,” Heaton, 20, said. “Like, I have bills to pay too.”
A co-worker snapped a picture of the receipt and Heaton’s tattoo, hoping to raise awareness on social media of a misguided inference that anyone who supports the LGBT community is anti-Christian, or that all gay people must be Christ-hating atheists.
“Someone asked me the other day if I would go back in time and get the same tattoo and I said, ‘No I would get it bigger,” she said.
She is not interested in flaunting her sexuality, though. She’s more concerned that two children no older than 10 witnessed their parents show behavior contrary to everything Christ taught.
“The kids are going to be under the impression that it will be OK to discriminate against anybody,” Heaton said.
While Buffalo Wild Wings corporate officials have not commented on the situation, Heaton said her local supervisor asked the one question on everybody’s mind: “How could they tell that just by looking at a tattoo?”
Heaton couldn’t provide an answer because the couple left before she could respond. Had she been given the opportunity, she said she would have talked as openly about her spiritual life as she does about her sexuality.
“I do believe in Jesus and God. I myself am a Christian,” she said. “And, as a Christian, thou shall not judge. No matter how someone looks, you should love them for what’s in their heart and how they treat you—not for what is on the outside. As someone who came out when it was still a battle for the LGBTQ community, that’s just plain rude and uncalled for. What if one day their kids grow up and want to be with the same sex, are they going to disown them? Throw them on the street?”
At press time, the photo of Heaton’s tattoo and the note was shared more than 400 times. R.