One Texas waitress welcomed the new year with a customer’s tip that was nearly four times greater than the price of the actual meal on Dec. 31, 2015.
After an emotional conversation between waitress Heather Schelsteder and a female patron, in which both women shared stories of grief over the death of loved ones, the customer left Schelsteder a $100 tip for a $27 meal at Cheddar's, KHOU reports.
"[The customer] made a difference," Schelsteder told KHOU. "She made me realize there are still people out there that do care. Thank you. I didn't get to thank her."
The customer, a criminal psychologist with two children, revealed to the waitress the struggles she faced personally and professionally.
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"[She was] going to interview people that come back from the war [who had] PTSD," Schelsteder said. "She said they come back, and it's really hard for her because her brother was killed over in a war. [Then] we got to talking about my grandmother."
Schelsteder’s 85-year-old grandmother died on Nov. 23, 2015. The waitress confided that she had never lost a loved one that close before.
"We both started getting teary-eyed,” Schlesteder said.
After the customer left, Schlesteder found the large tip along with a note.
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"It made me feel so special and important, like she understood, because she also left a note that things will get better, because she knew the heart of losing someone," Schelsteder said.
Large tips like this one are likely especially welcomed by servers these days.
After the Internal Revenue Service announced auto-gratuities must be taxed, many servers no longer receive the tips they used to, The Washington Post reported.
Many in the restaurant industry are creating petitions and campaigns nationwide to help fight this.
Waitress Heather Freeman explained the situation in a Coworker.org petition:
Servers are not able to support themselves or their families ... Many times, we have had parties of 10 or more whom did have great service -- they would even tell us -- but at the end when the bill is $250, they slip you a $10. But the government thinks hey you probably made at least 10% which would have been $25 but in all actuality you made $10.00 and still tip the bartender. So you made $5.