Customers are always leaving business cards, religious tracts, and other sundry items in the checkbook or on the hostess stand. Usually too poor or desperate to afford a decent advertising budget, they resort to foisting their shit on me. Here are some of my favorites.

Real estate – You know how realtors leave their card EVERYWHERE? The ones with their little picture in the corner? I’ve gotten more of these than I care to count.

Learn Kung Fu! – Some guy left me a card good for one free lesson. Hmm…..maybe I can turn my pepper mills into nunchucks.

Chiropractors – This guy needed an attitude adjustment.

Lawyers – Guy left a card saying he specialized in “immigration law.” I gave it to one of the line cooks.

Optometrist – This gal was really cute and trying to drum up business for her store. I went into uh, browse and left quickly. She was selling sunglasses for $1000. What the f……?

Personal Psychic – When I saw this card I predicted the tip would be small. I was right.

Nail Salon – You pay now!

– A Scientologist recruiter left this tract for me. You know I think I’m gonna start my own religion – Waiterism. Complete with a cult of personality, tax exemptions, celebrity adherents jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch, and an endless stream of Swedish bikini vixens offered up to the all knowing, all powerful, saintly Waiter. Come to Daddy my children. Salvation’s yours for only $99.95.

Personal Trainer
– Are you telling me I need to lose a few pounds? Bastard!

Hair Salon – Creations by Serge! What’s the deal with male hairstylists using only one name? Can someone explain this to me? I remember when they were just called barbers.

Competing Restaurants
– Are you trying to tell me something?

The Occasional Phone Number – Flattering and appreciated.

The Prayer of St. Francis – The card was nice. The tip was shit. Oh Lord, make me an instrument of your peace right now!

Obituary Card – Damn cream sauce! I told Fluvio to cut back.

Resume services – Gave this to a trainee waiter. He needed it.

Web Design – I’ve already got my own people thank you.

DJ – My brother could have used this one. The DJ he hired for his wedding mispronounced every name and forgot half the music.

Car Service – Dial 777-7777 when you’re drunk and the hooker stole your keys!

Bail Bondsmen – This one I tacked up on the bulletin board. Trust me, we’re gonna need it some day.

Role Playing/Fantasy – Yep, for a thousand bucks Inga will cater to a gentleman’s discriminating and perverted tastes.

Chick Comics – Christian comic books describing sulfurous hellfire that fundamentalist patrons leave to augment a bad tip. I’m not gonna agree or disagree with their theological sentiments, but do you ever see Buddhists pulling this shit? Pssst! Jesus would leave a tip!

Massage Therapy – You want happy ending mister? (The tip sure as hell wasn’t.)

Waiters! What kind of stuff have people left you? Tell us in the comments section.

44 thoughts on “Advertising”

  1. Darling Nikki says:

    When I was bartending people tried to tip me in illicit substances. Cash only, please!

  2. Anonymous says:

    FOREIGN COINS XS I work at a place near an airport and people think its cute to leave me coins from their native land. Yeah the first year I worked there it was cool, started a collection… Now two years later I just sigh and dispose of them.

  3. Robin says:

    One night, after having a party of 25 and each requesting their own individual chips and salsa, all I had to show for it was a card for their church. Thanks a lot for the mess people.

  4. nick says:

    Deposited in the tip jar at my coffee shop one day were a couple of coupons for a free taco at a local place. The other barista I was working with was pissed, but c’mon! Free taco!

  5. Liz says:

    I used to keep the dollars people folded up into origami. I still have a frog somewhere. You can flick it and make it hop!

  6. Faey says:

    Lol Liz, I leave frogs for bartenders all the time!

  7. Kristy says:

    I had a bunch of Baptists in the after church crowd on Sunday offer to pray for me instead of leaving a tip. Fantastic! My landlord will be so happy.

  8. Marina says:

    Canadian Tire money and a Youth bus ticket. I thought it was cute.

  9. Sarah the Second says:

    Those little Mormon trading cards with the white Jesus. Please…

  10. Faith says:

    One of our favorite customers left us an autographed copy of the book she write so we’d have something to do during the slow periods.

    Hmm. Not quite the same.

  11. Barista says:

    I had a dream four-top family (cute couple, adorable & quiet kids) leave a 40% tip, in cash, beneath a sizeable stack of church business cards. Bribery anyone?

  12. Brittany says:

    I get the occasional $2 bill. Foreign coins as well (got this weird canadian one once), and my personal favorite, the oragami. They are cute as hell I love them.

    One time some creeper left his number on a $10 bill. At least I think it was his number. Needless to say I never called.

  13. bobevans waitress says:

    I had a military man leave me his business card with his cell phone number scrawled underneath his business number. Flattered, but I flipped the card over to find a hand-written spiel about the financial benefits of joining the Army and emphasizing that I should be sure not to contact another recruiter. The kicker–I was too old to be recruited! My youthful looks often work against me.

  14. RedLobsterWaiter says:

    I work in the deep south! Let me tell you DEEP DEEP SOUTH. You wouldn’t believe how many cards or little church booklets I get. Some of them are so professionally done, people or their churches must be spending loads of money on them. Most of them tell me that I am a sinner…on top of a mediocre tip…

    I’m a Christian, I don’t go to church every Sunday, because I have to work…every Sunday. But don’t push your southern baptist crap on me!

    I grew up a very liberal christian and it’s not gonna change through tasteless pamphlets telling me what a bad person I am

  15. Ricky says:

    Waiters! What kind of stuff have people left you? Tell us in the comments section.

    A pair of female underwear…

    Swept it out from under the seat when my section was closed.

    What’s worse is I remember the pudge of the lady that left them.

  16. Michelle says:

    One night while I was bartending one of the regulars came in. As usually he had a glass of wine while he waited for his take out. But then he had another glass of wine after his take out was ready. It seemed he wanted to chat. So being friendly and eager for a better tip I chatted back.

    Conversation was normal for a bit then the guy started talking about his business ventures on the west coast. He had heard I was moving out there soon so I guess thats why he brought that up. Then the conversation took a turn when he was done with his wine, he told me him and his wife are pretty wild.

    My tip was a business card with a rainbow on the front. I thought it was for a church group at first because it looked so harmless but turning it over revealed an invitation to a swingers group. great, just what I always wanted – feeling like I needed another shower, the burn of no cash tip, and just plain disgust.

    I did get a bit of satifaction though… He’s no longer allowed in or around the building 😉

  17. Mina says:

    Just tonight I was bartending and I had someone leave me a hand full of McDonald’s monopoly pieces as a tip. Classy.

  18. Josh says:

    Someone left a card on their table that said “Place this card underneath your meal and the (mumbo jumbo bs) will halve your caloric intake!”

  19. Jenna says:

    My favorites are those that leave business cards or pamphlets, and then tip like shit. Sensational! That gives me a full address to post on bitter waitress in the Shitty Tipper Database.

    If someone is really obnoxious, I get the name off the credit card, write it down with a description, and they get tossed into the pool of possible villains or asshole characters in my novels. I’ll eviscerate you in words, fools!

    Best fun tip I ever got was 25%, a pen, and a bottle of rum!

    My friend’s best was when they left her a new, unopened $300 vibrator!

  20. blondie says:

    two dollars, and a minor league hockey schedule. the hockey playing twin delivery guys were psyched, so not all bad i guess.

    religous tract with the “ARE YOU A BAD PERSON?” quiz inside. lied? lusted? envied?

    looks like we’re allll terrible people.

    thanks for that.

  21. don't be like me says:

    Bartending at ‘Shennagian’s’ I was frequently tipped in ‘Bolivian Marching Powder;’ so at the end of the night, I would end up selling it to the servers for a tidy profit.

  22. Colleen says:

    While I was bartending someone left me a nice cash tip and a Percocet. hmm…

  23. carrie says:

    12 years ago, and i still have this one:
    a piece of paper made to look like a 10 dollar bill, but when i opened it, it read: DISAPPOINTED? you won’t be if you accept jesus as your savior!

    of course that was not accompanied by real cash.

  24. Fran dell'Monaco says:

    From two portly gals dressed in patent leather attending the nearby “fetish fair”, a neoprene condom and a sample size of water based lube.

  25. name says:

    can you do thi for me,

  26. Amberlee Jones says:

    When people left me numbers, I used to go up to the bulletin boards and leave them up there with a note for a “hot night”

  27. Sarag says:

    A case of Oh Henry chocolate bars.


  28. Nanashi says:

    One customer, about a month before he closed his toy shop, gave me a catnip toy for my cats. He also, on another occasion, gave me a bottle of bubbles, so that I could see how when the air is cold enough, and you blow bubbles and poke them, they *shatter*.

  29. Aerial says:

    hi there,

    i’ve been a fan of your blog for YEARS. just recently, i decided to back track and read all the posts i missed.

    i’ve been a server for about 10 years now. every one of your stories makes me smile, as i’ve been through the same bull, the same song and dance with these knucklehead people. there have been times i’ve wanted to choke the living shit out of some of them, and man, the stories i could tell you!

    the reason i’m just now leaving a comment, after all these years, is that, though i can definitely understand your ideas (at the time of this particular post) about Dianetics/Scientology, considering that much of the information available to the general public is rife with false data, black propaganda and prejudice, i honestly expected a more intelligent response from you.

    now, i’m not saying you should have signed up right then and there, or bought a book, or anything. its a religion, like any other, and subject to an individuals perspective and choice. no one is asking you to do anything. however, i would have hoped that you’d at least have done some real research and gotten data from the source, rather than spouting off age-old stereotypes created by those who want nothing to do with it and a few members of a religion that caters to over 30 million people. i happen to be one of them.

    wouldn’t it make more sense to get the truth from the source rather than take rumors at face value? (and please keep in mind, my personal opinion is that scientology and dianetics are not for everyone. each person has their own sense of faith and each is entitled to what they believe makes sense in their world.) take a look at the actual aims of scientology, and please, tell me honestly, that you do not find these to be even marginally honorable endeavors?

    i only wish to inform.

    i know you could care less about losing just one reader, but i’d like to know if, since its been so long since you wrote this post, has your viewpoint shifted to a more objective view of reality, and not the widely spread prejudices of the uninformed? just as others respect you and your faith, should you respect the faith of those around you. isn’t that the way things should be?

    all the best,

  30. Puny Hobbit says:

    One time this couple ordered their Early Bird (read:CHEAP) dinners and water. I brought out their salads and as I was peppering them the guy asked, “We are going to thank the Lord now, may we send up a request for you?” I was like “No, I’m good”, and walked away. The left 12%. Should have told them to ask the Lord for better tippers.

  31. Antother Reader says:

    To the person who left the novel about scientology. Please. L Ron Hubbard was nothing but a science fiction writer who wanted to get rich. To which long story short his associated scientology is another sham. To quote his famous words “best way to get rich is to invent a religion”. Scientologist are all about deception and attacks anytime someone questions their methods and ideals. Plus anytime celebrities flock to some particular fad that’s a great indicator of what to stay away from

  32. Chris in KC says:

    I always figured Scientology was basically to point out the ridiculousness of ALL religions. You can have good mores/values without having to believe in the supernatural, god or voodoo.

  33. abby says:

    I have worked in the restaurant business for 6 years now hosted, bussed, dishewashed, take out, and now I’ve been a waitress for 2 years. The best things I have been left have been a little baggy of pot (i don’t smoke) with a business card for the drug dealer, a vicodin with a card for a suicide hotline, various numbers from couples or lesbians looking for a third for a threesome, mini versions of the new testament and one of the best ones was an athletic cup (literally left in the check holder)

  34. Runner Waiter says:

    I mentioned to a table that I was training for my 4th marathon and the guy, a marathon runner himself, left me his business card for his running groups. was interesting, but I got my PR time without his help

  35. Michael G says:

    These quips were funny. Be sure and keep the bail bond card. Its the most valuable.

  36. Retail Bitch says:

    I’ve left two memorable tips in the past few years.

    The first was at Applebees. My friend and I are regulars there during Happy Hour. We stopped in this time with another friend of ours who was in from out of town. My sister, and four of her friends happened to be there at the time as well so we asked if we could sit at the table behind them. Her friends were between 17 and 18… the waiter was in his 30’s. He paid a lot of attention to one of the girls to the point that it was going into the creepy realms. He kept getting really close to her and just staring. The friend we were with noticed it at first, and we asked her what was up. They told us he’d been like that with her all night, not even flirtatious, just somewhat aggressive. He was our waiter too, and didn’t behave like that with any of us. He asked the girl for her number, and she ignored him. They left first, so after they left (mind you we had a few drinks in us by now) we scribbled the number of one of our gay friends on a napkin with a picture of a cat that said “puuur call me” and tossed it on their table with the tip. The friend said he never got called.

    The other memorable tip occurred with the same Happy Hour friend. We were at a steakhouse, it was relatively empty, around 2 on a weekday. Our waitress was terrible. My friend has worked in the food service industry for years, so she’s very particular about what she expects… and she doesn’t expect much. She never refilled our drinks, ignored us, messed up the orders, and the checks, brought out our food cold, and never brought us the rolls we asked for. We watched as the entire time we were there she stood in the kitchen flirting with one of the cooks. I said to my friend, “she’s not going to get a good tip… I wish we could leave a little constructive criticism when we poorly tip so people can understand that the reason they’re not getting good tips is because they’re failing at their job.” Well she did just that, she wrote her a nice little note on the back of a comment card that simply said, “hi, we’re tipping you 10%. Don’t take it personally, but you really need to pay attention to your customers and not so much to the kitchen staff. Keep them happy, it’s simple. Check on them once during the meal, and keep drinks full. Even messing up orders and checks can be overlooked when you’re friendly and apologize. Copping an attitude doesn’t make us want to come back fyi.”

  37. evil smurf says:

    During a lunch shift I complimented a lady on her necklace. It turns out that she made her own jewelry and had several pieces with her. She offered me a choice between a cash tip and a bracelet. I don’t wear much jewelry, but her artwork was actually quite pretty. I figured that the opportunity doesn’t often present itself to get something directly from an artisan and I took her up on her offer. It was my favorite non-cash tip. 🙂

  38. Meghan says:

    One time this group of teenagers left me $3 and a packet of Koolaid. I was pissed for a second then realized I haven’t had Koolaid in forever!

  39. Andrea says:

    Not a waiter, just a cashier, but this past Christmas, I commented on a woman’s scarf as she was checking out. She took it off and insisted I have it. Kind of odd, but it’s always good to see there’s still random generosity out there.

  40. WaitressSaint says:

    The coolest non-cash tip I ever got was a really pretty Swarovski crystal necklace. I waited on a couple for their anniverssary dinner, and the lady was so pleased that she left me her card with a note saying to call her for a free piece of jewelry. She let me pick from a whole bunch of items. I love it!

    Another regular of mine hosted his office Christmas dinner for about 12 people at my restaurant. At the end of the dinner he called me into the room along with his other favorite server. He gave a mini-speech about how our place was their company’s favorite place to celebrate and how we took such great care of thier group. He then presented each of us with a bottle of the highly allocated Sea Smoke “Southing” Pinot and a $100 AMEX gift card. It seriously choked me up! Thanks, Charlie!!!

  41. Michelle says:

    I had an eight-top of teenage guys who were shamelessly flirting with me (which was not reciprocated) the entire meal. Everytime I would walk away, at least one of them would whistle and the whole gang would erupt into laughter. Of course, when they were leaving, and after three appetizers, eight entrees, and about fifty thousand strawberry lemonade refills, they asked for separate checks. They all said they would pay in cash and didn’t need change. I cashed them out, told them to have a great evening and to stay safe, and then I retreated to the kitchen. A few minutes later I went back to check the table, and I found nothing but a five dollar bill folded in half in the middle of the table. I picked it up, unfolded it, and discovered that it was a piece of cardboard that had half of it printed as a five dollar bill, and the other half blank. I still have it.

  42. AshtaraSilunar says:

    See, this is why we do most of our advertising with pens. We have business cards, sure. But no one turns down a pen. (Or for waitstaff, banks, and medical staff, no one ever turns down a dozen.)

  43. Tifsuz says:

    I worded as a waitress for years in a truck stop cafe. I received I don’t know how many real/fake roses (they sold them next door) and enough stuffed animals that I was able to take three garbage bags full of brad new toys in to donate at a children’s home!

  44. leah says:

    a customer once left me a change purse she said she hand-beaded. it would have been kind of sweet, had it contained a tip. instead, i got stiffed on a $150 bill. did she think that honda would accept the change purse in lieu of my car payment?

    also, i love when guys tip poorly and then leave their numbers. do they really think i’ll call looking for a date? more like i’ll call to yell at them for being shitty tippers.

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