A man who says he was inspired by his middle school teacher to pay it forward left a waitress on Long Island, New York, a $3,000 tip on a $43.50 meal.
The unidentified waitress reportedly emailed Richard Specht on Wednesday night to share her story and a photo of the customer's receipt and note he left her, asking her to do something in return for her tip, reports the Miller Place-Rocky Point Patch.
Specht was the inspiration for the tip--he was the customer's middle school teacher and the founder of the ReesSpecht Life foundation, which encourages people to pay it forward in honor of his son, Richard Edwin-Ehmer Specht, who was 22 months old when he drowned in a pond in the family's backyard in 2012, just days before Hurricane Sandy.
Here's a photo of the receipt and note:
The note reads: "Thank you for your kindness and humility. My teacher in middle school had such a difficult experience a few years ago which has sparked me to do this."
The customer listed three requests he has of the waitress:
1. Go to reesspechtlife.com and learn!
2. Don’t let pay it forward end with you.
3. Since it is about the idea and not about you, or me, if you decide to share this, please don’t use either of our names!
And the note concludes: "Thanks for always being around for all of my shows off and on broadway. I hope that one day someone gives as much love and happiness into the world as you do."
Both Richard and his wife, Samantha Specht, are teachers at in the Smithtown School District. Specht says he fondly remembers teaching the customer and that he isn't at all surprised by his generosity, but continues to marvel at the kind way people are treating others, thanks in part to his family's efforts.
"I couldn’t believe it," Specht said of when he first opened the waitress' email. "I started crying. There are pictures of my son everywhere and I was just looking at them saying 'I can’t believe this is something that you helped to inspire.'"
The Specht family started ReesSpecht Life, which is named for their son, whose nickname was Rees, after realizing no one in their community would accept anything from them in return for supporting them through the tragic loss of their child.
In recent times, several stories have emerged about people paying for strangers' meals at restaurants or picking up the tab for them at drive-through establishments. One of the more well-known campaigns is called Tips for Jesus, which encourages restaurant customers to leave generous tips for their waitstaff and post photos of their receipts on a related Instagram account, reports the Milford Daily News.
In January 2014, a San Francisco waitress received a $3,000 tip from an anonymous customer who also paid for a fellow customer's meal. Instead of signing his name on the receipt, he simply wrote, "Tips for Jesus."