Confused, she got up from her table, grabbed the bill and looked for the waitress. She quickly spoted her and made a beeline straight towards her.
Determined to get an explanation, she stepped infront of the waitress and shoved the bill infront of her face. She wanted answers and nothing would stop her from getting them.
Jordan Smith and family had traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for a short family getaway. With a daughter and a son in college, and herself and her husband always at work. Family time became a modity not to be taken for granted.
But then again, as a devot christian, taking things for granted was never really in Smith’s vocabulary.
When smith and her family decided to eat at Mary’s Gourmet Diner, they looked forward to eating a wholesome meal. Little did they know, they were about to get much more than they bargained for.
They made their way to an open seat and sat down. They opened the menus resting on the table and chewed over their options.
As Smith and her family were reading the menu, they caught the attention of Tammy. Tammy worked as a waitress in Mary’s for years and found it incredibly annoying when families barged in and helped themselves to a seat.
Smith and her family walked straight past the ‘Please wait to be seated’ sign and made themselves comfortable in a reserved table. She walked up to them.
Plastering a smile on her face, she gently asked the family to get up and directed them to one that was available.
Soon, the Smith’s were ready to order and called for a reluctant Tammy to take their order. Tammy had made her mind up. She thought these people were full of airs and graces. Then she saw something that made her stomach flip.
Tammy had placed their meals on their table and was returning to the kitchen when she looked back and saw something that she hasn’t seen in a long time.
Smith and her family were holding hands across the table with their heads bent. They were praying. Tammy looked as other diners took note of the table’s actions as well. She went straight to her manager.
Smith and her family are oblivious to the attention their prayers are attracting. After all, this was routine for the family. They always prayed before a meal, whether it was in their own house or in a public restaurant.
Smith wanted her family to express gratitude and thanks whenever they could. But not everyone would appreciate her public religious display.
After the family were finished eating and the plates were taken, Tammy arrived with the bill. She gave the bill to Smith and continued about her work. But something wasn’t right.
Smith looked at the bill and added up the price of the meals. It didn’t add up. Why was she paying $36? There was obviously a mistake here. She didn’t want to pay that.
Smith got up and looked for Tammy. She spotted her going back towards the kitchen after tending to another table. Smith made a beeline straight towards her.
With her recipt in her hand, she placed it directly infront of Tammy’s face and asked for an explanation. Tammy knew this was coming. She looks at Smith’s questioning face and tells her to wait.
Smith waits as Tammy leaves. A few moments later, Tammy comes with another woman by her side. It’s the manager and owner of the store. Mary introduces herself to Smith and Smith cuts straight to the chase.
Smith asks her why she’s paying $36. Mary replies that Tammy told her that she and her family were praying.
Mary continues to say that she didn’t believe it until she stepped outside her office to see for herself. She explains that it has been a long time since she saw a family pray, and that they have a very strict policy for religious displays in public.
Confised, Smith asked her why was she doing this? What does praying have to do with the bill?
The bill detailed a 15% discount for “praying in public”. The waitress handed Smith the bill and said, “Just so you know, we gave you a 15 percent discount for praying”. But Smith knew she should be paying more.
Smith was so confused by the warm gesture that she wanted to find out why they did this as she never heard of it before. The manager Mary, gave her response.
She explained, “For me, every plate of food is a gift. And I never take that for granted, and when I see someone in a restaurant honoring their gratefulness at my table, it touches my heart.”
However, Smith was equally as touched with her generosity towards religious customers, so she posted the experience online. However, it caused quite a stir.
There were mixed responses online due to the ethical upholding of this discount. Some saw it as a possible tool to encourage discrimination on religious grounds.
While others exclaimed, “I think a business owner ought to be able to do what they’d like to in terms of promoting their values… without being in fear of someone saying I’m going to sue you if you don’t change your policies”.
Since then, Mary was forced to retract the discount in fear of a lawsuit. She addressed the change on a handwritten poster, outside her restaurant.
She apologized for any offense caused and stated that, “we must protect your freedom from religion in a public place” and that she values the support of “all our fellow Americans”.