Written In Red
He opened the leather folder and was immediately taken aback by the figure written inside. Surely this was some kind of mistake? Then, he saw the napkin was covered in the same red ink, too. His eyes re-read that one line, over and over again: “My mother did not need you to help her,” and then it all made sense.
Kasey Simmons from Dallas, Texas, was having one of those days. In fact, he would later say that it was one of the worst days of his career. He was working the dinner shift at the local Applebee’s when it became very apparent that the restaurant was short-staffed. He tried to pick up the slack as best he could, but stemming the tide of customers was proving to be a losing battle. Then, she walked in.
The woman sat down with her family and waited for Kasey to take their drink orders. When he finally got around to her table, he was completely upfront about the situation. “Hey, my name's Kasey,” he said, cracking a smile. “I'm just letting you know that I am so far behind and I'm in the weeds right now." He then told her that he would only be able to serve them in 45 minutes, and her face fell.
Kasey, trying desperately to placate the woman, offered to buy the table’s drinks. It really just wasn’t his day. With orders piling up and more customers entering Applebee’s, he was feeling more and more overwhelmed. Then, to make matters worse, the complaints started coming in. People were unhappy with the speed at which they were being served.
Ready To Quit
Kasey was, after all, just one man. He looked over to another woman who was demanding his attention. There was no way that he would be able to serve all these tables by himself! That’s when he started to consider the unthinkable. A calm little voice inside his head said: what if you just walked out right now? But as tempting as that option might have been, Kasey was in it for the long haul. Besides, he needed the money.
Kasey was a hardworking man, but even he had his limits. He asked management if they could send a second waiter to help him out. But as they were understaffed that night, his request was denied. He thought he might succumb to fatigue, but he soldiered on, not knowing what curveball was about to come his way.
Such Is Life
As a server, Kasey was used to having good and bad nights — and the outcome mostly depended on the tips. Some customers were lavish and left big tips which he greatly appreciated. But others weren’t as generous, leaving small tips – or worse, none at all -- even after he’d tried hard to give them good service. Such was the life of a worker in the service industry. He dashed back to the woman so he could finally take the table’s orders and was completely blindsided.
A Tiny Order
The woman told Kasey that they wouldn’t be ordering any food, but she’d like to order a bottle of flavored water before they went on their way. Kasey felt terrible. The family had patiently waited for an hour just to receive their drinks order, and now they were leaving. He quickly brought the woman her flavored water and the bill, but life wasn’t through with him just yet.
The bill for the flavored water, minus the drinks Kasey had footed the bill for, came to just 74 cents. The woman fumbled around in her purse for the cash, but said she didn’t have it. Then, she asked Kasey if he could split the amount on two credit cards – 37 cents on each. Kasey, almost at the end of his tether, patiently obliged before rushing off to another table.
Finally, after tending to his other customers, he went back to the woman and her family. But as he approached the table, he realized they were gone. Kasey feared the worst. He imagined the customers had left in a huff, angry that he hadn’t tended to them as well as he should have. If that was the case, there was nothing he could do. But when he opened the leather folder and saw the note on the receipt, his jaw dropped.
There, in the gratuity line, she had written $500.37. At first, he thought there must have been a mistake. But when he saw the wad of cash and a few coins, he counted it and it was right. Tears began to form in Kasey’s eyes at the overwhelmingly generous gesture, but he was still puzzled. Then, he saw the note.
On a napkin in red ink was written: “On behalf of the Sullivan family, I want to thank you for being the person you are. On one of the most depressing days of the year, (the death of my father's 3 year anniversary) you made my mother's day wonderful. She has been smiling since you did what you did." Confused, he read on and it all began to make sense.
Just earlier that day, Kasey had spotted an elderly woman in Kroger grocery store while he was picking up a few things. He immediately noticed that she looked upset. "I noticed there was a lady standing in front of me," Kasey recounted. "It looked like she had been crying because once in a while she'd glance over to me.” And what he decided to do next was what set karma into play.
Brightening Her Day
“I go up to her and say, 'It’s not raining inside. There's no reason to look so down. I'm sure you have a beautiful smile because you are a beautiful lady.' It looked like she had a bad day. She kind of shut me down a little bit. I wanted to make her at least grin a little bit and it wasn't happening," Kasey explained to ABC News.
Paying It Forward
Then, Kasey offered to pay for the elderly woman’s groceries to brighten her day. The total came to $17, and after some coaxing, she agreed to let him pick up the tab. She smiled at his kindness, and Kasey knew that he had succeeded in making her day a little easier. But what he didn’t know was that his good deed was about to come back to him tenfold.
The Worst Day
After paying for the stranger’s groceries, Kasey bid her farewell and handed her his Applebee’s business card – just in case she ever needed his assistance – and headed to work. "Every time I get to work, I say, 'It's a great day. I'm going to make some friends and make some money,'" Simmons explained. "This day happened to be the worst day of my Applebee's career. I was having such a bad night that I was about to walk out of [that] place, and this lady comes in...”
It turns out that the woman Kasey had served in Applebee’s was the elderly lady’s daughter. She had paid a special visit so that she could repay him for the kindness he showed her mother in the Kroger grocery store. “Her grocery was only $17.00, and you insisted on paying and told her she was a very beautiful woman... my mother did not need you to help her, but you made her year,” the note concluded.
The story was quickly picked up by local news stations, and soon, Kasey’s story had gone viral. Netizens from all over the world were calling Kasey a hero! “Fantastic to see that there are still good, generous, humble, sincere and caring people in our vicious world of today. Well done and thank you!” one fan wrote.
Another reader described Kasey’s story as “heartwarming,” and many other commenters agreed. Then, the original commenter made a suggestion. “If everyone did one act of kindness a day the world would be a much better place,” she wrote. But what does Kasey think about becoming a viral sensation and being called a hero by his many fans?
Setting An Example
Kasey doesn’t think that brightening a complete stranger’s day was anything to make a fuss about. “Even with what I did at the grocery store, I would want someone to do that for my daughter, mom or grandmother,” he said. "If they looked the way that woman did at Kroger, I would pray you would do the same."