FORT MITCHELL, Ky.—The Oriental Wok restaurant is your quintessential family owned Chinese restaurant. They’ve been around for 42 years, and business has been good. But business is about to go down the toilet due to the shutdowns on Monday.
Restaurant after restaurant is closing. One out of every five people in the U.S. have either lost their jobs, or had their hours taken away due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’ve ever worked in food service, you know how this closure hurts. A server lives on tips. Five bucks here, eight bucks there. Servers are constantly carrying platters, collecting dirty dishes, forcing smiles, yes-sirring, no-ma’aming, and apologizing because the kitchen made the General Tso’s chicken spicy enough to disable a musk ox.
After a typical shift, many servers go home, balance their checkbooks, and discover they will be eating Kraft Mac and Cheese for the next six months because of mounting bills, and their oldest kid needs dental braces.
Just before the Oriental Wok closed its doors, a few final customers walked in. They were regulars. They ate, they paid, they left.
There was a note written on their receipt, which read: “Your family has always taken such good care of us through the years, we know it’s going to be a tough few months.”
They left a $1,000 tip.
LAKE WACCAMAW, N.C.—Carly Boyd got engaged last week. She’s a young woman, pretty, a nursing student at Southwestern Community College.
Between classes, Carly apparently does her grandfather’s laundry then drops it off at the Premier Living and Rehab Center where he lives. To call her “dedicated” would be like calling Clifford the Big Red Dog a “Chihuahua.”
When Carly dropped laundry off Monday, a staff person noticed a new ring on her finger. “You’re engaged!” said the staff person.
Sadly, the nursing home is restricting all visitors, so there was no way for Carly to show the ring to her grandfather. But the nursing home administrator, Genie, had an idea. Genies usually do.
She led Carly around the outside of the building to her grandfather’s room. Carly could see her grandfather lying on his bed, eating ice cream. She knocked on his window. She pointed to her ring.
Genie says, “He got up to see it better, and she put her hand on the window, and he put his hand on the window, and we all just fell apart.”
I just did, too.
This story raises a very important question: If nursing home residents are allowed to eat ice cream in the middle of the day, how does one apply for residency? I’m asking for a friend.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Ricky found a dog on the side of the road yesterday. The dog just sort of followed him when he was walking through his neighborhood.
Since the mass quarantine, Ricky has been listless and bored. He’s an extrovert, his mother says. And it’s hard for outgoing kids to be trapped indoors with nothing but what Ricky refers to as, “books and stuff.”
“Ricky would WAY rather be with people than sit still,” says his mother.
The dog is a cocker spaniel, brown. It was covered in mud. So Ricky washed the dog in the backyard and named him. The two have hit it off. The dog slept on a stack of quilts last night in the garage.
This morning, Ricky swore under threat of his own life that he would take care of the dog, and not make his mom do all the work like he did with the last pet.
Still, his mother doesn’t plan to let Ricky keep the animal. Not unless Ricky power-washes the deck and promises to mow the yard all summer.
That’s a tough break, Ricky.
HOUSTON—Guy walks into a Mexican restaurant. Guy orders a meal. Guy consumes dangerous amounts of cheese dip. Then, this guy pays his bill and leaves. He has included a note on his receipt. This is getting eerily familiar.
The note reads: “Hold tip to pay your guys for the next few weeks.”
The tip is for $9,400.
The server nearly has to be revived with cold water.
This happened yesterday at Irma’s Southwest restaurant, which was closing down just like every other place in town. The $9,400 was divided evenly among the staff. Each employee took home $300. It was an emotional day.
“I mean, I don’t have words for it,” said general manager, Janet Montez. “I really don’t.”
Neither do I. And that’s actually why I wrote this. This morning, I sat down to write something else, but I couldn’t. Because when I opened my inbox, it was flooded with messages from too many people. People who had a story about someone who did something nice, somewhere in the world.
These stories of kindness are coming from almost every U.S. state, and I have been reading them for hours. Someone left a big tip in California, Kansas, Louisiana. A young man paints his elderly neighbor’s house because he’s been laid off. A local choir sings “Happy Birthday” for an elderly woman over the phone.
It moved me. You sit down and read one of these sweet stories; it blesses you. You read five in a row, and you decide you want to be a better person. You read a hundred, and you start to cry like a teenage girl at an Elvis concert. Because you never believed that there could be THIS much good happening during such a rough time.
But there is good stuff happening. It’s everywhere. It’s in the air, and it’s highly contagious. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll bet $1,000 bucks you’re wrong.