Tattooing is, admittedly, and odd job. The normal rules go right out the window and all kinds of wackyness that would be noteworthy at an office environment are par for the course in the shop. I was looking at the stuff all over my station today and it occured to me that I get a lot of wierd stuff just given to me. Not as a tip or present, but just because people look at me and the shop and think “hmmmmm, this guy will appreciate this” and I do!
Some of the stuff Ive been given over the years;
Afghani money and an empty m-16 magazine. -I ended up doing two full sleeves on a guy who had just returned from 15 months in iraq and afghanistan. I got a bit worried about how often he was coming in to get work done, it was running very quickly into the thousands of dollars range, his response “Its either tattoos or beer”. One day he gave me the empty magzine from his rifle and about $4 in afghani money. “your not supposed to bring this stuff back” he told me as he handed me the clip, “but lots of guys bring all kinds of stuff back. . . ”
A large mason jar of psychedelic mushrooms– apparently there is a part of west virginia very near this guys town where the ‘shrooms grow wild all over the place. On cow shit. He told me that when they would crop up the fields would be full of folks, young and old picking tons of the trippy fungoids. According to him, if you collected your shrooms in a baggy then the police, if they caught you, would also try to slap a dealing charge on you. But since no one sells mason jars full of ‘shrooms you only get busted for posession. I dont do drugs of any sort so i gave them to my now ex-wife, who pronounced them to be “really fucking good”.
A rivet– I was tattooing an anotomical heart over top of a crazy scar on a guys chest. Apparently in his younger years he was a drunk and druggie and one night in a fit of angst and stoned rage he tried to cut his own heart out. The scar looked like he almost succeeded. Anyway, at the end of the tattoo he handed me a rivet. Other than his working in a metal shop im not sure why.
happy lil bobble head guy– before Cara became my girlfriend she was a customer. one day she came to her appointment with this little solar powered statue that gently nods its cute little head back and forth as long as there is any light around it. “You seem like the kind of person who would appreciate this” she told me, and she was right, i smile like a goof-ball every day when i see it. People ask me all the time “what is that thing for?” There really isnt an answer, “for being happy” is the best ive come up with so far.
Bananna Bread– you really cant ever go wrong bringing me this stuff. its like crack.
Japanese tattoo magazines and books– my love of asian art is no secret to my customers, one guy came back from his trip to japan with a bunch of books and magazines, he let me ‘borrow’ them over a year ago. I feel kinda guilty, I will gladly give them back if he ever comes back to claim them, but I kinda hope he doesnt. . . . . .
Porn– Ive been given a couple porn dvd’s over the years, its a strangely intimate and fairly uncomfortable thing to recieve from anyone, let alone customers.
T-Shirts– Everyone has a ‘clothing line’ and they all think im either a size medium or a 4x. for future reference anything between l and xl will be fine, thank you.
Lego Chewabacca, darth maul, and Obi Wan– They are little and yet the force is strong with them.
30 burned CD’s– this has actually happened a few times! In each case the cds were carefully labeled, with explanation sheets, in lovely little cd carriers. The amount of time and care that goes into these little packages is touching.
Animal meat– usually some form of venison. To people who hunt regularly this seems like a common sense gift that is both delicious and sustaining. No part of the animal is wasted and we all enjoy its bounty. To city bread pussies like me its a little sketchy and Deliverance-y. What if i get forest germs!?
Ive heard tales of tattooers who have been given crazier things as a tip. From broken down motorcycles to oral sex to hound dog puppies. Im kinda glad at the stuff I get though. it feels fun, I would feel guilty taking somthing much more valuable, and anyway the personal nature of most of the stuff I get given make it feel worth so much more than a dollar amount.