Single father Brian Maixner was the kind of server that any restaurant would want on staff.
Clean-cut and polite, Maixner exudes a sunny disposition and worked hard. He was as efficient with his tables as he was kind to his customers, working around the clock to make sure he came home with enough money to support himself and his teenage son.
He was a big hit for his mannerisms at the ‘Doo-Dah’ Diner in Wichita, Kansas when he arrived to work at the restaurant in order to pick up daytime hours. The ‘made-from-scratch’ local joint built its relationship on a friendly atmosphere and welcoming personalities, boasting that the atmosphere was the kind where ‘tables bought each other’s meals’ routinely to surprise one another, so when Maixner applied in order to quit his nighttime serving gig at Ming’s Chinese restaurant—a move he made specifically in order to spend more time with his son—the diner’s owners knew they’d found a good fit for their staff.
Unfortunately, owner Timirie Shibley had some reservations.
While Shibley knew that Maixner took care to look professional and to make his customers feel welcome, the father had a serious dental problem. Although he was always cheerful and ready to help, he wasn’t nearly as quick with a smile as his personality would dictate; with multiple missing teeth and a number of painful infections, the server’s appearance and attitude didn’t quite reach his mouth.
Shibley admitted that the server always did his job impeccably, but there was the nagging fear that a table would bring up his teeth—and sure enough, an elderly patron pulled aside the owner one day with that very topic in mind.
Instead of complaining, though, the customer had an offer to make.
Maixner’s teeth had reached the state they were in due to financial limitations in his life. Living paycheck to paycheck and stretching every dollar paper-thin, he had often made the choice to forgo dental treatment in order to support his son over the years. He knew the problem had gotten bad—he’d dealt with the painful infections since he was a child—but without the money to address it, he’d always pushed a solution to the back of his mind.
One day, Oklahoma lawyer Fred Boettcher was eating with a big party at the Doo-Dah when he’d noticed Maixner’s dental problems. Suspecting finances were a primary factor in the server’s oral neglect, he approached the restaurant’s owner with a solution—rather than heading up to complain, he wanted to finance a fix for the hard-working waiter.
It was an unbelievable offer.
“This young man, he just touched me,” said Boettcher, who needed a lot of dental work when he was younger as well. “I’ve had a couple of restaurants in the past and I know how important appearance is. He was a clean-cut guy with a smile like an angel, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to help.’”
In total, Maixner estimates that the work he had done racked up nearly $25,000 in bills, which Boettcher paid in full. The teary recipient of the work now has brand-new dentures, and all of his dental infections have been properly and thoroughly treated.
He looks like a new man—and he’s eternally grateful for it.
Maixner admitted that the gesture, which “brought tears to his eyes,” has inspired him to pay it forward. He’s now helped out multiple others in his area with dental problems, pointing them towards a solution that will not only change their comfort levels, but their acceptability in the workplace and everyday society.
It certainly wasn’t a little gesture for Boettcher to make. The dental work didn’t happen overnight, and it cost him a pretty penny.
The impact it had on the younger man’s life, though, he considers to be well worth it.
Now, with Maixner helping people on his own, the movement has spread beyond Boettcher himself—and that, really, is what makes a gesture like this even more special.