Good waiters are often underappreciated, not only by their salary but also by their customers. Sometimes, they work really hard and don’t get any tips, and sometimes they have the chance to make a lot more but are held back by their good conscience.
Here is one heartfelt story about one particular waiter that showcases what waiters struggle with, and it can reignite your hope in humanity again. Read on to learn about Armando Markaj’s serendipitous journey…
When a waiter named Armando Markaj walked to one of his tables, he noticed that the woman who was eating there had already left. Luckily, the bill was paid, but there wasn’t any money left for the tip.
Instead of a tip, she left a rude note. Disappointed, he started cleaning the table when he noticed something that she had left behind. When he realized precisely what it was, he couldn’t believe what he had found…
Armando Markaj was a 27-year-old waiter at Patsy’s Pizzeria in Harlem, New York. Patsy’s Pizzeria is a beloved neighborhood restaurant, with Saturday being their busiest day of the week. That particular day, Armando found himself assigned to several tables.
The waitstaff had their hands full that Saturday. Unfortunately for him, one of the tables he was covering was an angry woman with her daughter. Besides, he also had to take care of other tables from his section.
The pizzeria’s current owner, Frank Brinja, takes pride in the restaurant’s history. Patsy’s Pizzeria has been a pillar in the neighborhood since 1933 in the exact location that it’s always been. The walls are even adorned with pictures of past and present customers.
Armando noticed that the pair of women at his table was intensely staring at one of the pictures on the wall. It was as if they were art critics, and it was their turn to comment on an image. With years of experience, Armando knew immediately that the two women were going to be problematic.
When Armando first greeted the women, it started off pretty smoothly. They ordered two pieces of New York-style pizza as normally as humanly possible. But the older woman called Armando back over just as he was leaving to pass along their order to the kitchen.
She posed a question that he simply didn’t have an answer to. He was so incredibly unprepared for such an inquiry that it left him tongue-tied.
“Why are there so few pictures of women on the wall?” the lady asked somewhat maliciously. She asked him with what sounded like an intent to start something. Armando attempted to answer, but he drew a blank.
She waited for him to formulate an answer. Armando already thought that the situation was uncomfortable, so he laughed nervously and struggled to make a joke. However, once he made the joke, he knew it was the wrong thing to do.
He begrudgingly responded to her question, “Maybe women don’t eat a lot of pizza?” He started to laugh it off. However, it was blatantly clear that the woman didn’t care for his answer. Right then, she made up her mind about Armando’s character.
She didn’t enjoy his answer, and he could tell. The embarrassed waiter removed himself from the conversation. After all, he had plenty of other tables waiting for him to serve them. So, he left the weird encounter with the woman and went to the kitchen to give her table’s order.
As an experienced waiter, Armando’s comfortable with the fact that there will always be rude patrons with negative attitudes. Despite this knowledge, it’s never an incredible feeling when he’s confronted with one of them, no matter how trained he is.
But he stayed professional. Armando always strived to resolve conflicts with rude customers by providing quality service to all his customers, including the rude ones. His business, after all, was largely dependent on tips.
Since the first interaction wasn’t so positive between him and the two women at the table, he did his best to serve them the best way possible. He served them promptly and brought them their check immediately. After he handed the check to the two ladies, he moved on to another table.
After finishing up with the orders, he saw that the two women had already left. He thought that the ladies hadn’t paid their bill. However, there was something more harmful waiting for him inside the bill folder.
The bill had a note on the receipt that said, “Maybe women don’t tip either.” Armando was dumbfounded but was able to keep his cool. Disappointed, he started clearing their table when he noticed a white envelope under a napkin.
He curiously picked up the envelope and examined it. When he saw a “Citibank” logo, he instantly discerned that he had to run after the women to return the envelope.
Armando shared with reporters the feeling of urgency when he saw the “Citibank” logo, realized it must’ve been significant, and ran out to find her. It demonstrated a quick response time on his part.
When he came to the realization that the ladies were nowhere to be found, he inspected the envelope further. The check inside the envelope was for an enormous sum of money that Armando had ever laid eyes on in his life!
The rude woman had forgotten a check on the table worth nearly $424,000. He now had the chance to teach the rude lady a pretty costly lesson. He thought about if he just tossed the check, no one would even know it existed.
It could be bad karma for the woman. Another option was to cash it himself, which would help him pay for medical school, and he wouldn’t need to be a server anymore. However, of his two choices, he knew that it would be just as awful as how the woman behaved.
After carefully weighing his options, he called Frank Brinja, the restaurant owner, to ask him what they should do with the check. Brinja recalls how eager Armando was to hand over the check, and when he saw how much it was, Brinja was hesitant to keep it on his person because of the amount.
They were both confused, thinking she must’ve been a millionaire since it’s so unusual for an average person to be walking around so casually with a check of that amount.
The usual practice for items lost in Patsy’s is putting it in a lost and found box. This strategy, however, didn’t seem appropriate for a lost item worth almost half a million dollars. Frank and Armando seemed to agree with this thought process.
Frank attempted to track down the woman using the name on the check: Karen Vincour. However, none of the leads led to anything substantial. So, they decided the best interim solution was to keep the check. The woman might retrace her steps back to the pizzeria.
While Armando and Frank were deciding what they were going to do with the check, Karen Vincour was desperately trying to locate it in her house. She even made her daughter look through the garbage. When they were positive it wasn’t in the house, they started backpedaling.
The first place they contacted was a café where she had gotten coffee that morning. She then called the pizzeria, but no one was aware of the check that she was asking about.
The $424,000 check was all of Karen’s money. The check was a combination of her entire life savings and the money she got from selling her apartment. Karen wanted to use the check to put a down payment on a new home.
So, having concluded that she had lost her life savings, she was utterly defeated. And when she contacted the bank to cancel the check, what they told her would only send her into deeper devastation.
The bank explained that because it was a cashier’s check, they wouldn’t be able to start the cancellation process for another three months. Meanwhile, anyone in possession of the check can cash it in. She had just sold her apartment and planned to use all that money to invest in a new one.
Having lost the money, she was considered homeless. She had already been couch surfing with friends. Without the check, she’d have to continue couch surfing for a while.
When Karen had still not returned to Patsy’s to claim her check, Frank decided they needed professional help to find her. So, he contacted the local newspaper, and they were able to find her swiftly! After only thirty minutes, Karen showed up at Patsy’s.
Armando was the initial one to greet her at the door. But did she feel bad or shameful for engaging with him in such a disrespectful manner the last time they saw each other?
She was past relieved when Frank returned her check. Frank remembered how timid she became upon seeing Armando again. She surely regretted how awfully she had treated him. She must’ve felt like such an idiot.
In her guilt, Karen thought the least she could offer the honest Armando was a reward and apology for their first interaction. However, Armando shocked everyone with his response.
Armando accepted Karen’s apology but refused any reward. He relayed to interviewers how he understood her position and how lucky it was that he saw the envelope before throwing everything from the table away. Karen and Armando came to an understanding over a pizza and a tour of Patsy’s photo wall.
The women on the wall were highlighted, including Barbara Walters, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Christine Quinn. Frank even offered to put Karen on the wall! Although karma taught Karen a lesson, things worked out due to Armando’s kindness.
In this second story, what seemed like an average morning for one waitress working at a waffle restaurant in La Marque, Texas, turned into an extraordinary one. She was being secretly filmed by a customer and had no idea that she was about to go viral, and her life would be forever changed… Regular customer, Laura Wolf, thought she’d seen it all when it came to the Waffle House in La Marque, Texas. She has created relationships with the staff because of how long she’s been going there for breakfast.
On March 3, Laura saw that drew her attention away from her food. It was so captivating that she pulled out her phone to quietly record what was happening. The waitress in the video had no clue that Laura was recording what was happening.
While the Waffle House has always been popular among locals, this particular day was much busier than usual. The restaurant appeared to be overrun with the number of patrons coming for a meal, almost like the whole town was there.
Laura was clueless as to why the Waffle House was so crowded. The servers were giving their best to attend to all of the customers. The sheer number of customers was only one of the things that made the day so special.
One of the waitresses running around to help customers was Evoni Williams, who went by “Nini” with her coworkers. Laura recognized her as having worked at the Waffle House for at least a few years, and everyone knew Nini as incredibly hardworking by everyone.
Nini had a powerful reason for being so dedicated at work. She was working tirelessly and saving every penny she made to be able to afford community college. Unfortunately, Nini still had a long way to go since she needed to save up a lot more.
Like Laura, Evoni expected that the day would be an ordinary one. When she arrived for her shift, she saw a great chance to make more tips than usual because of the sheer number of customers. Evoni got right to it, serving patrons right and left.
Fairly quickly, it started to look like the restaurant didn’t have enough staff to accommodate the volume of patrons. Evoni was constantly moving, delivering food, passing orders, following up on requests. She was getting overwhelmed, and then she spotted it.
It was a specific customer who caught Evoni’s eye – a kind 78-year-old man who many of her coworkers recognized as a regular who came to the Waffle House at least once a week. He was known to employees and other regulars as Adrien but was also lovingly referred to as Mr. Karaoke.
Adrien came to have his breakfast at the regular time. He always exuded positivity despite health issues that required him always to use an oxygen tank.
Evoni, due to the sheer number of customers, was all over the place, taking care of people and just generally just trying to serve as many customers as quickly as she could. Adrien noticed and attempted to get her attention.
When she saw him, Evoni made her way over to the counter where Adrien was sitting at a barstool. Adrien then started to whisper quietly into Evoni’s ear, something that he definitely wanted to keep private from others and between them.
Laura, who was directly across from Adrien and Evoni, saw them speaking with each other quietly. Adrien seemed pretty flustered as he was speaking with her. Although she couldn’t put together exactly what they were saying, Laura had an inclination of what it was about.
Laura had a feeling this was a remarkable conversation, so she secretly grabbed her cell phone from her purse. Soon she was discreetly recording Evoni and Adrien, who were sitting directly across from her, as they were whispering.
As Laura was filming them, Evoni was attempting to hear Adrien over the noise of the restaurant. The Waffle House was packed, and the noise coming from all of the customers made Adrien’s soft whispering that much more challenging to hear.
Evoni was moving closer to Adrien to listen to what he was saying as a cook from the kitchen was also trying to grab her attention. Being the professional she is, Evoni chose to focus on Adrien first as she felt like the other calls for her attention could wait.
Evoni first assumed that Adrien called her over to say that he wasn’t pleased with the food and wanted a replacement plate. In reality, Evoni heard his quiet request and, with a smile on her face, took his plate and placed it directly in front of her.
The breakfast was made up of eggs, toast, ham, and home fries. Evoni placed the plate in front of herself, rather than bringing it to the kitchen as any witness to the conversation would’ve innocently assumed. When she had taken care of the plate, she happily gave it back to Adrien.
During all of this, Evoni was solely focused on Adrien and no one else. Other customers also needed assistance, but Evoni knew that Adrien desperately needed her for right now and that she needed to make time.
This was all taking place in front of Laura, who was discreetly recording the whole thing. However, it turns out that Laura wasn’t the only one recording what was taking place between Adrien and Evoni.
The restaurant had a Closed Circuit Television camera that was angled directly in Adrien and Evoni’s direction. It recorded all of it, from Adrien grabbing Evoni’s attention to Evoni taking Adrien’s plate, completing her task, and then returning it to Adrien.
The security camera recorded everything, giving a gaping view of the counter where Adrien and Evoni had spoken. The footage would go on to be seen by the Waffle House management and become a viral sensation, allowing tons of people on the internet to learn about Evoni’s kindness.
Laura was astounded by what took place, and she was happy to have recorded it. When Evoni was done with Adrien’s plate, she quickly and happily gave it back and continued on with assisting other customers.
Laura felt compelled to share with others what she just saw—she considered it an eye-opener for people. She uploaded a post on Facebook about it and shared the videos she recorded. Obviously, she had zero clue of the impact of her post.
What Laura caught on video began with Adrien making a request to Evoni. Adrien was dealing with a number of health problems, and some of them got to a point where he was unable to do things independently that he used to do.
ABC News interviewed Adrien after the video went viral. He talked about how holding a fork was one thing, but cutting his own food was nearly impossible these days. He had ordered ham and needed help cutting it into smaller pieces, so he chose to ask a server for help.
In Evoni’s interview with ABC News about the Waffle House incident, she shared that Adrien had called her over to say that his hands weren’t working well. Evoni said she couldn’t tell what he wanted, so she got closer to clarify.
Adrien clarified that he needed her to cut his food into smaller pieces. When she finished, she returned the plate back to Adrien and continued her day. To Evoni, there was nothing extraordinary about what she did because she believed that anyone in her role would have done the same – recorded or not.
Laura was so taken by what Evoni did for the man that she wanted to put it on the internet. And she figured the best method to do that would be to upload it to Facebook. Laura’s post outlined how though she didn’t know the waitress’ name; she had heard the customer as her a favor.
Laura’s post described how he struggled to say his hands don’t work well. The waitress took the plate and started cutting his ham. Laura concluded by talking about how it was a small action but made a difference to him and how it was powerful to witness.
Laura said that it didn’t take long for the post to get reactions. She kept getting notifications while she was eating her breakfast in the Waffle House. It appeared that many people felt similarly—incredibly touched by how Evoni helped the older man.
Laura strived to leave a lesson for people in her post, so she challenged people to channel this server and help others. Obviously, Laura had no clue how impactful this post would be on Evoni’s life, leading to positively dramatic changes.
It took a couple of days for Laura’s post about the Waffle House encounter to reach impressive viral proportions. Unexpectedly, the post has gotten more than 90,000 likes and 47,000 shares from people worldwide. People were celebrating Evoni for her quick act of kindness, and many agreed that the world needed more people like her.
Adrien joyful reported to ABC News that someone told him that he was becoming quite popular due to a Facebook post where they could see his suspenders from the back. The whole town – including some pretty important people – became aware of what happened.
The video was seen all over the internet and by notable people in town. When the mayor of La Marque, Texas, saw the viral clip, he felt that he should visit Evoni at work.
Evoni knew that the mayor was coming by—in fact, a whole camera crew was set to record the visit. But Evoni didn’t know that it would be more than a visit—the mayor had more planned.
A crowd and cameras were everywhere—it looked like many people wanted to watch the mayor celebrate Evoni for her heartfelt act of kindness. Nevertheless, no one knows that the event would become even more esteemed.
Upon arrival, the mayor beelined for the counter, basically the exact place where Evoni cut Adrien’s food in the video. The mayor announced that he had a special announcement, and then he presented March 8 as “Evoni ‘Nini’ Williams Day” for the town.
Although the video was viral, Evoni’s new fame also led to sharing other inspiring stories about her. One specific heartwarming story was about how she became employed at the Waffle House. People discovered that Evoni was working at the Waffle House to make enough money to go to college.
After the inspiring video, a couple of La Marque residents started a GoFundeMe page for Evoni, hoping it would assist her in raising the money for college. Luckily, one notable person heard about Evoni, her story and added her name to the fund.
Hundreds of people were sharing the GoFundMe page that was made to help Evoni raise money for college. From the beginning, it looked like they were going to reach their $16,000 goal. Many people from La Marque donated in the hopes that Evoni would be able to go to school.
The GoFundMe page grew a social media following and got employees’ attention from Texas State University, which was only 30 miles away from Evoni’s Waffle House. These staff members wanted to help her out and reward her kindness.
The restaurant was packed, just like it was when the video was recorded, to see the mayor and Evoni. Her loved ones were there, along with Adrien and Laura. But, unknown to Evoni, someone else significant was also in the Waffle House.
The surprise guest was the president of Texas State University. He had wanted to meet Evoni after hearing her story because good deeds should be recognized. When he finally met Evoni and told her of his offer, everyone was emotional.
While the mayor was announcing that he was naming a special day to celebrate Evoni, the president of Texas State University stood near him, ready to share even more exciting news. After the mayor’s turn, the University president got up and began explaining that he had big news in front of everyone.
The University president announced that Evoni was deservedly getting a scholarship to attend the school. He handed her a huge check for the scholarship grant. Everyone in the room, especially Evoni, were overcome with emotion.
Everyone was crying, especially Adrien and Laura. Laura could not have imagined that her video would have these kinds of consequences. She thought, at most, it would brighten people’s day. But the reality exceeded expectations.
Thinking about how Evoni helped Adrian, Laura noted how busy it was that day, so she took note of the conversation. The fact that it was so crowded and Evoni had taken the time to stop and help him really resonated with Laura.
Regardless of all the attention and praise she got, Evoni continues to assert that she didn’t do something that extraordinary. She is pretty shy about the whole thing and stands firm in the belief that anyone in her place would have done the same thing.
When interviewed for the local news, Evoni said that it was something she would’ve done for anyone, any other day. For the rest of use, though, Evoni’s inspiring act of kindness rightfully earned her recognition.