Read Your Receipt Closely and You May Find Out What Your Server Really Thinks of You

The first time I noticed the receipt phenomenon I had just finished lunch at a bar. I was scanning the receipt because I’d forgotten my bartender’s name and amidst the time stamps, item descriptions and other information was a field that said something like “redshirtbar.”

Because I’m a completely clueless human being, unable to see I was wearing a red shirt at the bar, I asked my bartender what it meant. I will never ask the question again.

I did, however, pay close attention to my checks for a while. Most servers use the field quite literally to describe a customer or group of customers in a way that differentiates them from the crowd. Shirt color, the number in the group or other differentiating characteristics make it easier to keep track of who’s ordering what.

But on occasion some servers take for granted that customers never read anything other than prices and totals on their checks and have a little fun with the field. I’ve found a few clever jokes, been hit on once, been insulted once and then, after a while, stopped checking.

Last week I was at an Ethiopian restaurant and sat at the bar to watch the end of a football game. When I got my check I randomly noticed it said [email protected], which I’m pretty certain translates to the two white people sitting at the bar. I looked around the restaurant and sure enough my date and I were the only white people plowing our way through rolls of injeera.

So, friends: Read your receipts carefully. There may be a laugh, or a date, hiding in the fine print.