-- Woman Refuses To Tip Waiter, But Didn’t Realize What She Left At The Table

A waiter was taught a life lesson when he served a woman at a local pizzeria. While he was attending to another table, the woman rushed out of the restaurant -- which left him assuming she’d pulled a dine and dash on him.
He breathed a sigh of relief after opening the little black folder and noticing she had paid the full amount. However, he found that the elderly woman left him with no tip and a stinging note. Disappointed, he began clearing the plates away when he noticed an envelope. “Well, well…what’s this?” he thought to himself as he opened it. As he caught a glimpse of the contents, he pondered if this was a dose of instant karma.

Work With A Smile

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Armando Markaj worked as a waiter at the busy Patsy’s Pizzeria in Harlem, New York City. Since he needed the money to finance medical school, he’d put in long hours and consistently provide great service with a smile on his face. On a particularly regular day, Armando’s lunchtime shift was about to test his character.

Busy Days

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Patsy’s Pizzeria is one of the city’s best restaurants where people flock to for their iconic pizza. It gets incredibly busy, especially on Saturdays, so Armando knew he was going to have his hands full. There’s nothing worse than a grumpy customer during peak time to turn a waiter’s shift into a nasty one. And that was immediately on the cards since a particular woman and her daughter strolled in. Unfortunately, they were seated in Armando’s section.

Wall Of Fame

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The pizzeria’s current owner, Frank Brinja, is extremely proud of the establishment’s heritage – Patsy’s Pizzeria opened its doors in 1933. For over 86 years, they’ve hung up photographs of famous patrons’ faces as well as accolades that the restaurant had scooped. Armando saw the two women scanning the photographs on the wall, all with a bitter expression on their faces. He knew right away that this was not going to be an easy afternoon.

Decision Made

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Armando, showing a sense of urgency, quickly approached the women and greeted them with a warm smile. They ordered two New York-style pizza slices. He thought to himself, “That wasn’t so bad.” Just as he was turning to walk away, the older woman waved him back and pointedly asked a question that he would never forget. He was not one for confrontation but knew he needed to answer.

Serious Question

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“Why are there so few pictures of women on the wall?” she asked, with bitterness dripping from every word. Armando opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Was she seriously asking this? She looked at him and waited expectantly, and then it dawned on him that this woman’s question had been completely facetious. And she expected an answer. He thought he could make it go away by nervously laughing, but he was wrong.

Poking The Bear

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After the lump went down his throat, he stammered, “Maybe woman don’t eat a lot of pizza...?” The woman’s eyes narrowed and her mouth turned downward into a mean sneer. He swore he could see her turn red. She had made up her mind, and now Armando was going to pay for answering her question so flippantly. He tip-toed his way back to the kitchen to place their order and decided to not focus on the woman, after all, it was a busy afternoon and other tables needed his attention.

A Bit Of Both

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Armando knew that good customers and bad customers came with the territory but no matter how much he could prepare for it; it never completely took away the sting out of being yelled at by rude patrons.
But he knew that he needed the finance for his medical degree and pushed himself to give his best for all his customers. He wished that today wouldn’t cause any more trouble. However, by the end of the day, he would be presented with a fantastic opportunity to flip the situation on its head.

Skipping The Check?

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Armando attended to the two women and brought their steaming pizza slices and then moved on to his other tables. He then noticed the woman’s hand raised, signaling for the check. The restaurant was reaching capacity pretty quickly, so moving around quickly was an issue. But he managed to get the check to their table. After serving one of the adjacent tables, he noticed that the two women had vacated their seats. As he got closer, he was filled with a sense of worry that they may have skipped on paying for their meal. Upon opening the folder, he realized that it was paid for in full but the note that they’d left for him was far more devastating.


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The woman had taken being hurtful to another level as she wrote, “Maybe women don’t tip either” on the receipt. He couldn’t believe it. “How could a human being be that rude”, he thought to himself. But while clearing the plates, he noticed a white envelope underneath the napkins. Curiosity got the better of him so he decided to take a peek inside. Barely pulling out the contents, his eyes caught a glimpse of the name at the top.


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“I just pulled up the flap and I saw ‘Citibank’ and thought it was important, so I ran out to the street to look for her, but she was gone,” Armando recalled. He decided since she was gone he might as well take a better look, so he removed the contents of the envelope. Inside was a check for the largest amount Armando had ever laid eyes on. He literally couldn’t believe what he was seeing.


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The check that the rude woman had left behind on the table was for a staggering $424,000. Armando thought that maybe this was his blessing. He had a few options. If he wanted to, he could teach her a powerful lesson. He needed to make a decision. The little voice on his shoulder told him to teach the old lady a lesson. He wanted to throw the check away, that way, no one would know what’s happened. But then he thought that he may try to cash it and change his life forever. Then he began thinking clearly -- either of those decisions would make him just as nasty as the woman was. What would you decide?

Moral Dilemma

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After thinking carefully about his moral dilemma, Armando did what most of us would have done. He called the owner of Patsy’s, Frank Brinja, and put the check’s fate in his hands. “He called me immediately and hands me this check and I was like, "‘Oh my...’ I didn’t want to put it in my pocket it was so much money,” Frank explains. They were surprised that an elderly woman was walking around with a check for that amount.

Getting It Back

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“Normally we just put things left behind in the lost and found box in the back, but I wasn’t going to do that with almost half a million dollars,” Armando explained. The name on the check was Karen Vincour, so Frank tried to track down the woman but didn’t have any luck. He then decided to wait to see if she would retrace her steps and come back. “We decided we would hold on to the check for a couple of days to see if she would drop by or if we could find her ourselves,” he said.


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Karen, as you can imagine, was in a complete frenzy. She had realized what had happened and immediately called her daughter who then decided to search the household trash. Finally, the woman began to retrace her steps. First, she called the cafe across the street from Patsy’s where she had stopped for a coffee earlier that morning, then she decided to call the pizzeria, but was met with confusion. Her real estate agent said she had contacted Patsy’s but nobody knew what she was talking about. He later figured that she’d called a different branch of Patsy’s and not the same one she’d recently been to.

Down Payment

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It turned out that Karen had just sold her apartment and the check for $424,000 was to use as a down payment on a new home. She felt like her world was crashing in front of her. To make matters worse, she called the bank to ask for help and they gave her devastating news.

No Help

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“They said they couldn’t immediately cancel it because it was a cashier’s check. I would have to wait at least three months before they could even start the process, and only if someone didn’t cash it in the meantime,” Karen explained. She’d already been staying with friends and sleeping on a different couch each night and knew that without that check, she was never going to buy her own home.

Another Level Of Help

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Since time had passed and Karen still hadn’t shown up, Frank decided to escalate the matter. He enlisted the local newspaper to help track her down and thankfully within minutes, they knew where she was. It didn’t take too long for her to arrive at the restaurant where Armando waited at the door to greet and welcome her. Would she regret treating him like she did?


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“She was so happy and she was in tears,” says Frank. “But, the second she saw Armando, you could see she got a little shy.” She must have felt like a fool. She decided to extend the olive branch by offering the hardworking server a finder’s fee and apologized profusely for being so nasty. But Armando’s reaction surprised everyone.

All’s Well

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Armando accepted Karen’s apology but declined the money. “I’m happy for her, really,” he confessed. “Saturdays are pretty busy and I was very close to taking everything left on the table and throwing it out when I saw an envelope.” Karen and Armando made up over hot pizza. Frank then took her over and pointed out all the women’s faces that she had missed that Saturday, including TV host Barbara Walters, First Lady Chirlane McCray and former City Council Speakers Christine Quinn and Melissa Mark-Viverito. Then, to drive the point home, he offered to do something else, too. “We joked with her and said we’d add her picture up on the wall,” he said, laughing. But would you think twice now about leaving a nasty note for a server in future?

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