Normally it didn’t bother her but today was just too much. Her third trimester had seen her growing huge and today it was taking its toll more than usual. Her back and feet ached more than usual as she approached the now empty table where the officer had been sitting.
She started to collect the dishes from the table and looked over at the bill folder lying on the table. She picked it up and opened it. That’s when she saw what was inside and the note. She started crying as she ran to her manager.
Courtbey Cadigan, a resident of New Jersey, worked at the Lamp Post diner as a server. She worked hard and picked up any and all shifts that she possibly could. Courtney wasn’t simply a very diligent worker, she also happened to be eight months pregnant.
Courtney continued to work deep into her pregnancy. This was because as a mother to be, she knew how important it would be to save as much money as she could to help her through what lay ahead.
Ask any server and they’ll tell you about their regulars and the things they ordered. Courtney had her regulars too and she was used to the police officers who came in to eat something before their shifts began.
However, one day an officer she didn’t recognize was sitting at her table. She served him as usual but when she saw the note he left her she was stunned. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before.
Couurtney was starting to worry about whether or not she’d be able to make ends meet. Her due date, April 1st, was getting closer and closer. As if things weren’t bad enough, she and the father had ended the relationship on a bad note so she was going into this alone.
These thoughts plagued her and she was thinking about them when the unfamiliar police officer walked in and sat down in her section. She shook herself free from these thoughts, grabbed a menu and went to serve the officer.
Courtney was no stranger to serving the Voorhees Township Police Department officers when they came in before their shifts. This officer, however, was not someone she recognized and something felt strange.
She shrugged it off as nothing more than her imagination and approached the table. She naturally treated him no differently than she would any other customer, but she had no idea that this encounter would be like no other.
It had been a while since Courtney had heard anything from her ex, which worried her. Despite the way their relationship had ended, Courtney wanted him to be involved with their baby’s life as much as possible.
Courtney knew that he had treated her with far less respect than she deserved, though she tried not to think about it. She wasn’t mean spirited, however, and still wanted him to share in this. She smiled as she approached the table and asked the officer for his order.
For a reason Courtney couldn’t define, the unknown officer made her feel very uncomfortable. She knew she’d never seen him before and the more she spoke to him she wondered if he was from the area at all. Perhaps he just didn’t dine out often?
Part of her hoped that whatever was going on would have nothing to do with her ex in any way. She hoped that neither she nor her ex were in any kind of trouble. However, the officer sat there with a stoney expression.
Being friendly, Courtney tried to strike up a conversation by exchanging a few pleasantries and even engaging in some small talk. However, no matter what she did the man would simply nod and smile.
He ended up ordering nothing but a green salad and a glass of water. That was the most conversation she got from him. She felt oddly relieved to walk away from the table. However, she could feel his gaze on her as she went to the kitchen.
As Courtney came out of the kitchen, she was surprised to see that the diner had gotten a lot busier. In her section a couple had taken a seat in the booth right be hind the officer. She grabbed menus and hurried over and introduced herself.
Naturally they immediately noticed the huge baby bump that she had and they saw how tired she looked. They raised their concerns for her wellbeing but Courtney merely shrugged it off and explained the situation.
“I was telling the people at the table behind him that it was my first baby,” Courtney recalled later, “I was going out of work soon.” The couple congratulated her warmly before placing their orders, unaware that the cop was listening intently to every word.
When Courtney brought his salad and turned to serve the other customers needing her attention, he watched her every move.
The mysterious man wolfed down his salad and chugged his glass of water in record time. Then, he raised his hand and asked for the check. Courtney brought it over, and the total came to $9.00.
With the diner becoming busier and busier, Courtney was off again, hurrying to get the diners’ orders out on time. She didn’t notice that the cop had walked out until it was too late.
Opening up the leather folder, she saw that the man had left enough cash to cover his lunch. Then, she saw the note that almost brought her to her knees. It was scrawled on the bill and was obviously directed at her.
“He must have overheard my conversation with other customers,” she recalled later.
On the bill, the note for Courtney read: “Enjoy ur 1st. You will never forget it.” Beside the note was nine dollars in change. Underneath it was a crisp $100 bill.
With her pregnancy hormones raging and her stunned disbelief at the man’s generosity, she couldn’t help herself. She ran straight to her manager in tears.
Trying to contain her tears but failing miserably, she burst into the back room, check in hand. Her boss, seeing her employee distraught, thought that something terrible had happened.
Courtney took a minute to catch her breath before explaining everything. But she still couldn’t quite believe it. $100 was more than Courtney earned in an entire day!
“It’s truly a blessing to come across people like him and I’m forever thankful for that,” she told the Gloucester Township Patch. But once she had recovered, she knew that she had to thank the officer in person.
Running out to the parking lot in hopes that he was still there, her heart fell when he was nowhere in sight. How would she find him?
Sharing Her Story
As soon as Courtney’s shift was over and she had arrived back home, she called the Voorhees Township Police Department to try to track the officer down. But not before sharing what had happened to her with her father, Brian.
He was so taken aback by the generous tip that he shared a photo of the note on Facebook.
“It’s not the amount, it’s the humanity of it,” Brian said. “He saw she was struggling and a young girl. She was working in a diner while pregnant, standing with that kind of weight on her, and it was his way of saying, ‘I understand your struggle.’”
But that wasn’t all the mystery officer did that day.
“You always hear about how bad the police are, how they treated you like dirt, how they are on a power trip,” Brian wrote in his Facebook post. “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.”
The officer had changed Brian’s opinion of police officers forever.
Brian’s Facebook post went viral almost overnight, garnering an incredible 10,000 reactions, a thousand comments, and thousands of shares. People couldn’t get enough of Courtney’s story.
One commenter wrote: “What a wonderful thing to do, this story warms my heart. I’ve always respected police officers.” But shattering misconceptions about officers of the law wasn’t all that the post achieved…
Since her father’s post went viral, Courtney has been contacted by people all over the world – many called the Lamp Post Diner to try to get in contact with her — and most wanted to donate money to help her out.
“They wanna know if they can help her because it’s the first child,” manager Victor Sierra said. “It’s the gesture about somebody helping somebody else.” But did Courtney ever manage to thank the cop in person?
The generous mystery officer opted to stay anonymous after his good deed. Just knowing that he helped Courtney in her time of need was enough recognition for him. But Courtney and her dad still wanted to show their appreciation.
But how could they do that if they didn’t know the man’s identity?
In the end, they decided to say thank-you the only way they knew how. They arrived at the Voorhees Police Department bearing boxes of donuts for the entire team! “Thanks to Brian Cadigan & Courtney English for bringing in treats for our staff this morning,” the Voorhees Police wrote on their Twitter account.
They also promised to make sure that the anonymous officer was told personally that Courtney and Brian were eternally grateful.