Anything that has words on it can be used to make a human connection.

Receipts, for example. Discovered this from Eater, which discovered it from Reddit:

Four dollars is a major discount, actually, for these nice kids doing what my kids are expected to do for free.
Four dollars is a major discount, actually, for these nice kids doing what my kids are expected to do for free.

Basically, a restaurant in Washington state gave a family a discount (and a hefty one) for well-behaved kids.

Which reminds a person of the Texas restaurant Twisted Root that gives funny random discounts, including this discount last summer for being good lookin’.

Which makes me wonder why this stuff goes viral. I think for a couple of reasons. One is, a crappy little receipt on cheap paper is one of the most common printed items that we handle without anything more than the autopilot of our left brain checking to make sure it looks like the charges are correct. Then it’s trash, unless you’re on an expense account. But we TOTALLY don’t expect a restaurant to be alive and bright and smart and surprising enough to stick something interesting or nice or inventive or wonderful on there.

And of course, there’s the human subtext—in the one case, the implication is that most kids behave horridly; in the other, it’s a simple case of the guy behind the counter hitting on (presumably innocently) the girl on the other side. These go viral because they’re unexpected windows into human emotion that come to life on this piece of typically ignorable almost-trash.

And I guess that’s why I blog rather than retweet: this little sharing, this little humanization, this little moment that seems off-script and real, is the sort of authentic behavior that we crave when dealing with a business or institution.

That these discounts were programmed into the POS system means that someone really “gets” it and has set employees up for success when dealing with the real, authentic folks who show up to pay for food.

And setting employees up for success is something more restaurants could be doing, isn’t it?

P.S. Eater has a whole column devoted to interesting receipts, by the way. A lot are just astronomical or stories of bad tippers, but it‘s fun to see so much happening with these humble, innocent-looking scraps of shiny paper.