Sometimes life gives you lemons but takes them back right away. This is exactly what happened to this waitress from Denny's, who received a life-changing tip but never got a chance to use it.
A Huge Tip
She arrived at the table with a washcloth and a spray bottle, ready to clean up after the customer left. She stopped short when she saw the tip on the table. She couldn’t believe her eyes at the amount written.
It would be enough to pay for her student loans, enough for her to start her life elsewhere, enough to help her realize her dreams. However, with one snatch of the hand, her boss took that away from her. She couldn’t help stopping her tears from falling on her uniform.
Working Hard for a Dream
Shikira Edwards puts on her apron and ties her hair everyday for her shifts at Denny’s. For the past three years, the dentistry student had juggled work and school to pay off her loans and rent.
It was worth it to be bossed around and do menial tasks if only to have a debt-free future. “How might it feel like to live without this burden?” she would ask herself every so often. Shikira had no idea how soon she would find out.
It Was Her Smile
Working in the service industry means being put face-to-face with difficult customers on a daily basis. That’s why Shikira was more than happy to serve a friendly lady and her husband on that special morning. It was already rare for her bright smile to be returned, and yet this woman went so far as to actually say out loud how much her cheerfulness was appreciated.
As they left, Shikira thanked her lucky stars for having great customers that morning, but little did she know her lucky stars weren’t done working their magic just yet.
An Incredible Surprise
As she started to clean the table, she stopped short when she picked up the tip. Were her eyes tricking her, or did that tip actually say that the lady had just given her $4,000 check as a tip? When she realized it was true, her eyes were flooded by tears of gratitude.
That was it! With a single swipe, this generous woman had given her a serious leg-up in life. She composed herself first before happily walking to her manager to share the good news with him.
Dreams for the Future
The walk to her manager’s office was not long, but she had already formulated a plan on how to spend the money. She had resolved to pay a part of her student loan and then donate the rest to a non-profit geared toward helping adolescents with depression.
Her hopes were so high thinking about how many people this money could help, but she did not know that it would come crashing down in the minutes that followed.
Shikira’s manager was dumbfounded. He stared at the check, skimming his eyes over and over at the number on it. Yes, he had heard of huge tips given to the service crew, but he couldn’t believe it had happened to one of his people.
His mind was on overdrive. After a few minutes of awkward discussion, he carefully slid the check into his pocket. He stared at Shikira in the eyes and said that the money would stay with him until she agreed to do him a favor.
A Single Condition
Shikira was shocked for the second time in such a short amount of minutes, but instead of the joy she felt earlier, it was now mixed with anger and dread. How could he give her a condition, when that tip was given to her for her service?
This was so unexpected that she had no idea how to react. On one hand, that was her money. On the other hand, she did not want to lose her job.
She had to give herself time to think. She went home and looked online for similar stories of waitresses being given huge tips. Despite the turmoil she was facing, it heartened her to know that so many hardworking waitresses had been lifted out of their dire situation by kind people who were generous with their blessings.
On any given week, a waitress usually earns between $298 and $500. And yet, she had gotten $4000 from a single customer. She needed that money, but what her manager had asked her to do was near impossible.
The decision was difficult. Would she fight for her right to her tip and risk conflict with her boss or do what he had asked even if it seemed unlikely she could accomplish it? Shikira needed that money and still wanted the security of her job.
She remembered how she had worked so hard to get debt-free, and this was a way to make it happen so much faster. She had to do something and as soon as she could.
What her manager had asked her to was to track down the kind lady from that morning and confirm if she had really meant to write that amount on the check.
Shikira had thought long and hard to remember any details that might help her in her search, but it was so difficult given that the lady was not a regular at the restaurant. Shikira had little resources to spend on tracking that customer down. She was disheartened at the turn of events.
Was There More to the Request?
Her manager probably knew how difficult his request would be for Shikira. She wondered if asking her for the impossible was an easy way to keep the money for himself. Her branch was suffering from low supplies and low morale.
A wad of money like that could certainly turn things around. She mulled over it, letting the situation and her options percolate in her head. Finally, she had it. After much deliberation, she got her eureka moment.
Sharing Her Story
Shikira decided her best bet was to enlist the help of the internet. This would allow her to cast a net wider than her social circle, wider than her neighborhood, just to track down that lady and her husband.
She wrote her post and shared it with the world in the hopes of finding the kind soul who gave her that check. However, weeks passed, and the lady did not come forward. Shikira’s hopes grew dimmer every day.
However, unbeknownst to Shikira, her post was gaining traction. While no one could locate her mystery tipper, many people were outraged at how the hardworking waitress was being treated.
A huge chain like Denny’s made a lot of money, so why did they need to withhold the tip their employee had every right to keep? Angered by her situation, many people spoke out on social media. So many in fact, that news outlets began to take notice.
Getting To The News
In a bid to find her tipper, Shikira had decided to contact the local news channel that was only too happy to air her story after the staff had read about it online. She called her customer that day to come forward so she could get her money.
She shared how embarrassed she was to have to ask her customer to show up, but Denny’s management had implied it must have been a mistake that someone left such a huge amount as a tip to Shikira.
Calling Them Out
The more she had mulled it over, the angrier she got at her situation. Shikira had worked long, grueling hours for little pay, smiled through the rudeness of customers, and made sure the restaurant was clean and inviting... and this was how the management was treating her? She had just about had enough.
There was no rule, written or otherwise, saying that a waitress had to get the contact information of someone who tipped her. So, why was this happening to her?
The Company Reacts
The public outcry had reached deafening levels, and Denny’s as well as the person who was in charge of the management had to come out with a statement before the problem became out of control.
They justified their actions, saying that they would never withhold any sort of payment from their employees, but they had the responsibility to make sure their customers did not accidentally pay more than they had to. This was the reason they gave for asking Shikira to locate her tipper.
A Broken System Exposed
Shikira’s story had cracked open the ugly world of the service industry. Unlike any other industry, service workers are paid a “tipped minimum wage”. What they get from their company is much lower than the federal minimum wage, supposedly because tips from customers should cover for the rest.
However, workers have no control over the amount they are tipped. Sometimes it’s enough, but oftentimes, it is not. The system is unfair to waiters and waitresses who bust their backs working their shifts.
Denny's leadership and Shikira met. However, the results of the meeting would leave a bad taste in Shikira's mouth. The restaurant advised her about the investigation results. They also said that they understood that the dedicated server was disappointed. Denny's also published their response to the media.
This statement did very little to calm Shikira down though. She had spent two productive years in the restaurant and she now felt furious against its rules and regulations. However, her anger wouldn't end there. Things were going to take a turn for the worst.
An Investigation Begins
The statement that Denny's released read: "We conducted a thorough investigation into this matter and have discovered the tip in question was made in error." It was a statement that broke Shikira's heart into a million tiny pieces.
Denny's went further to explain that the elderly gentleman who left the tip mistakenly gave the stratospheric amount of $4,451.61 instead of his intended $4 tip. This news understandably broke Shikira's heart. She felt like she had won the lottery and that it was taken away from her at that very moment.
A Not So Happy Ending
The restaurant's spokesman, later on, said in a public interview that Denny's was committed to both their customers and their staff and that they would provide training to make sure that their staff was better equipped when similar scenarios arise again in their establishments.
The turn of events left Shikira inconsolable. She felt frustrated at the whole situation and understandably so. The worst part of it all was that she had no control over the matter and that she had to let the food chain take care of it all.
Police Officer Leaves Pregnant Waitress Speechless
Courtney English is a 23-year old woman living in Camden County, New Jersey. She is a cheerful woman who has a smile ready for everyone. She is also industrious and hardworking. Her winning attitude is what made her great and well-appreciated in her job.
For almost two years, Courtney worked on an on-and-off basis at Lamp Post Diner in Clementon, New Jersey. She was never ashamed of her work and had other part-time jobs that made her working schedule tight. Even when Courtney got pregnant, she wanted to take her shifts in the diner so that she would be able to make ends meet.
Unlike most women who tend to stop working when they become pregnant, Courtney knew that would never work in her situation. She had had some rough times before and she needed to save money for the delivery of her baby. She chose to stay committed to her job as a waitress.
Somehow, she had gotten used to the job and although it was always busy at the diner, the pleasant coworkers there, who she already treated as her friends, made everything more comfortable and smooth for her. Moreover, she had gotten used to her regular customers, all of whom were excited for her.
The Reason Behind
Courtney’s life was an open book to her friends and coworkers. She fell in love and was excited to build a future with a man she had met at one of her odd jobs. They lived together in her boyfriend’s small flat and there, they began to dream about a family.
Even though she was young, she felt sure she had found the love of her life. Despite her father’s advice about not being aggressive and impulsive, Courtney was deeply in love. She felt as if she was more than ready to face the world. However, it seemed that some good things in life were never meant to last for her.
They had been only living together for a few months when her now ex-boyfriend started showing his true colors. He had thrown himself in some inappropriate business at his job, and it seemed like he couldn't stay loyal to his relationship. Courtney had forgiven him the first time he was caught. However, it soon became a hobby for the abusive man.
The time Courtney finally realized she had enough, was also around the same time she discovered she was pregnant with his baby. Hoping that it would be the start of something new, she excitedly told him about her condition. However, he saw her pregnancy as the bomb that shattered their dreams into pieces.
A Father’s Love
When Courtney realized she had fallen in love with the wrong man, she had no choice but to leave him. She was pregnant at the moment and only had some part-time jobs to live by. She was only twenty years old, and it was hard for her to swallow her pride, but she soon found herself on her father’s doorsteps.
Seeing his daughter helpless and crying, Brian Cardigan didn’t have second thoughts about taking her back, even after they had argued. Courtney would always be his little girl and he promised himself that he would always be his rock. Thanks to his love and guidance, Courtney found herself back on track again.
Saving As Much as She Can
Typically, a pregnant woman is advised to rest and avoid physical activities, especially during her third trimester. As a waitress, Courtney was well aware that her job was physically demanding. However, she had no choice as she needed all the money from it. She was determined to stay at the diner until the end of February, even as her pregnancy was in its eighth month.
Aside from the risks she was taking every day at the busy diner, Courtney was not ashamed to admit that she was still living with her father. She couldn’t afford to rent her own apartment, at least, not at the moment. All she could think of was to deliver her baby safely and healthily into the world. For her, other plans for the future could wait.
Staying Strong and Focused
Although Courtney had so much to do every day, the thought of becoming a mother was always in her mind. Mostly, she would look at the families dining together and imagine what her daughter would look like.
At times, there would be a pang of pain whenever she thought of her ex-boyfriend, not because she was still in love with him, but because Courtney believed she wouldn't be able to give her daughter a complete family. But as fast as that thought crossed her mind, she would also remember her loving father and her supportive friends who always assured her that everything would be alright. That knowledge gave her the strength and the courage to go on with her life day by day.
Not a Regular
Friday is the start of the busiest days at the Lamp Post Diner. Customers come flocking at the end of the week, and Courtney had to move fast but efficiently. Since she knew exactly what her regular customers wanted, she often found the time to entertain newer guests.
On one Friday, a police officer stopped by at the diner for lunch. Although he was not a regular customer, Courtney knew that it wasn’t the first time the cop had entered their place. Since the other waitresses were busy, she decided to welcome him and gave him her most cheerful smile. However, seemed to be in a rush when he gave out his order.
The man in question was a Voorhees Township police officer. Aside from the uniform that gave away his job, the other waitress told Courtney that he came to the diner to grab something to eat every now and then. He ordered a salad and a glass of water and waited for his order patiently.
Since Courtney was naturally efficient with her job, the cop’s order was delivered to his table in no time. He muttered a word of thanks and started to eat right away, looking oblivious to his surroundings. So when Courtney moved over to the next table for a quick chat with her regular customers, she had no idea that the cop’s ears were still on her.
The family at the other table next to the Voorhees Township police officer was close to Courtney. They casually asked about her pregnancy and even advised her to take her maternity leave already. Her belly was big, and her customers were growing quite concerned about her situation.
In a determined voice, the pregnant waitress told her regulars that she was planning to work until the end of the month. The doctor had given her a due date on April 1 and she needed all the shifts she could get until then. It was a casual talk for Courtney, and she had no idea that the man at the other table was intently listening to every word she said.
Asking for the Bill
Perhaps it’s true that cops are always in a rush. It didn’t take that long for the police officer to finish his salad. He promptly gestured to Courtney for the bill. His simple lunch had cost a total of $8.75. Courtney took the receipt from the register and brought it to his table.
He was poker-faced as he handed the bill back to Courtney. She thanked him and wished him a good day as he left the diner. As part of the protocol, she took the receipt to the cashier and went on to continue with her job. But within a minute, she was informed of some surprising news!
The Sweet Note
When the cashier showed Courtney what had been written on the receipt, she had to do a double-take. In the tip section, the cop had written $100. At the side of the paper, he had also scribbled a personal message that made Courtney's eyes water in an instant. His order hadn’t even cost him ten dollars, and it was a real surprise to witness such generosity.
Since the cop was only gone a few minutes earlier, Courtney ran out of the diner and checked the parking lot. She looked for a cop car and scanned the vehicles leaving the place. However, she failed to spot the generous customer. When she returned inside, the real essence of what had happened came to her all at once.
Aside from the $100 tip, the cop had left a sweet message. It was not unusual for the customers, especially her regulars, to give her extra tips every now and then. However, this was the largest so far, and the thought that it came from someone who seldom visited the diner was quite strange to the pregnant waitress.
But aside from the surprising act of generosity, it was the note that baffled Courtney’s mind. She tried to remember what had happened earlier. She was sure she had only asked for the cop’s order, delivered him his meal, and had gone back to him only when he had asked for the bill. There had been no casual conversation between them. For a moment, Courtney thought it was just a random act of kindness. But what about the personal note?
Courtney read the note again and again. It read, “Enjoy ur first, you will never forget it.” Then, in an instant, the realization hit her. She remembered talking to her regular customers on the next table about how excited she was for her first baby. She even bragged that she would have a beautiful baby which she planned to name Kayleigh.
Perhaps the police officer had overheard the conversation and detected the genuine excitement in her voice. Courtney also remembered saying that she would soon be out of work and was taking advantage of every penny she could get in the meantime. Even without having a direct conversation with the officer, she was pretty sure that the mysterious man had felt she needed extra resources.
Sharing the Good News
All the staff in the diner were close to each other, and they were extremely happy for Courtney. They witnessed how she struggled to continue working even when her belly was too big and heavy for the job. Moreover, they knew how she valued her role and her customers.
"Well-deserved tip", is what they said. But for Courtney, it was about more than just the money. She was deeply moved by the thought that even total strangers could extend their help to someone in need without making them feel less of a person. She was so happy she ran and cried to her boss.
Spreading the Good News
In excitement, she also called her father who she knew would be glad to hear the good news as well. When Courtney took her break, she snapped a photo of the receipt and texted her father. She had always been a daddy’s girl, and she wanted him to know how much a stranger had made her happy that day.
On the other line of the phone call, Brian couldn’t help but smile about the random act of kindness the anonymous cop had shown his daughter. He could clearly sense how much it had made an impact. In his mind, he already knew what he wanted to do to show his most sincere appreciation.
A Father’s Way of Extending His Gratitude
Personally, Brian had some bad feelings toward police officers. He knew some of them treated other people like dirt and took advantage of their position to power trip. They knew they were capable of enforcing authority, they had guns, and sometimes, it didn't end in a nice way for innocent people.
However, even if police reputation was heavily marred in his eyes, Brian was aware that not all of them were the same. As a father who was a witness to the struggle his daughter was facing, Brian knew how the act had impacted her in more ways than other people could imagine. So he felt determined to thank the cop who had made him realize an essential lesson in life.
Turning to Facebook
Since Courtney was not able to personally thank the cop, Brian asked for her permission to post the receipt, as well as the uplifting story of kindness. He wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to express his gratitude to the officer’s selfless act and generosity.
In his most sincere words, Brian shared his amazement and appreciation for what had happened that day at the diner. The picture had a long and meaningful caption. Within minutes, the heartwarming story had gone viral. In a time when there is so much negativity surrounding police officers, Courtney’s story was a refreshing and inspiring moment for many.
What’s in the Post?
In a lengthy message, Brian summed up the lesson he had learned from Courtney’s experience. A part of the post read, “Yes, I am sure there are some bad apples, but most of them are just doing their jobs, they deal with the worst of society every day and have to keep going back every day and deal with it all over again. They risk their lives each day just to do their job, of trying to enforce the laws that they didn’t make.”
Brian Cardigan had no idea that his Facebook post about the generous tip along with the heartfelt note would shed a positive light on the way people see police officers. In no time at all, positive reactions came flooding to his feed. It might have been a small deed for others; however, it matters to a lot of people in their locality.
The grateful father also called the anonymous cop a wonderful person. He shared that the lovely message, as well as the generous tip, had not only made his daughter’s day but even her entire year.
Another part of the post read, “I don’t know you Mr. Police Officer, but you made my little girl cry and made her year. Thank you, I always had the utmost respect for Officers, but you went above and beyond not just an officer, but a beautiful human being. God Bless.”
The Boomerang Effect
With Courtney’s story suddenly going viral, it had opened the door for other people to share their positive interactions with their local police department as well. It turned out that many cops were still committed to their values.
The incredible thing that happened at that Lamp Post Diner one Friday was another example of how small acts of kindness could result in positive energy being passed on from one person to another. Soon enough, the media took note of what had happened and decided to find out who the viral cop was. However, the officer chose to remain anonymous.
Leading news outlets in New Jersey had set up interviews with Courtney as well as Brian. It was such an excellent opportunity for the mysterious cop to take the entire praise to himself. However, by refusing to appear in interviews, he proved once again that the act of kindness was a selfless one and not just for the show.
Of course, Courtney’s manager had given her the name of the generous police officer. But since he was reluctant to take the credit, the grateful waitress decided to thank him personally and in private. She knew that one day, she would be seeing him again at the diner.