Sometimes when we’re at our lowest, a random act of kindness can make all the difference.
That’s what one woman discovered when a stranger went above and beyond to help her in a time of need—and she realized that it was the thoughtfulness that really made a difference.
It was New Year’s Eve, and Heather Schelsteder was working as a waitress at a Cheddar’s restaurant in Baytown, Texas.
Schelsteder was glad to be done with the prior year. She had been going through a rough time, having recently faced her first major loss of a loved one: Her grandmother had passed away just before Thanksgiving.
She had been struggling with grief every day since.
The holiday had made it a slow afternoon at the restaurant, so Schelsteder was able to be extra attentive towards the handful of customers.
And one table in particular caught the waitress’ attention.
It was a woman with two young boys. Schelsteder chatted with them as they ordered and learned the woman had a career as a criminal psychologist—but was about to embark on a new project: working with soldiers with PTSD.
“She mostly meets with people for juries, but said that she was also going to interview people that come back from the war,” Schelsteder told USA Today.
But the woman said the project was difficult for her personally and had brought up a lot of feelings of grief.
“It’s really hard for her, because her brother was killed over in a war.”
As Schelsteder talked to the woman, she felt a kindred spirit with her and felt this stranger was someone she could share her own grief with.
She brought up the recent death of her grandmother—and the two had an emotional heart-to-heart.
“We both started getting teary-eyed, and then we’re both like trying to blink it away, and then it just kind of went from there,” Schlesteder told USA Today.
“We just kept talking until the next table came in and she got up and left.”
Schlesteder felt better and was grateful for the cathartic conversation she had with the stranger, but thought that was the end of it.
She never expected what happened next.
The waitress went to collect the bill from the empty table—and when she read the receipt inside, she was astounded.
The woman had left her a $100 tip!
The woman’s bill was only $27, meaning she left a whopping 370% tip.
Schlesteder never got to thank the stranger. But she broke down in tears with gratitude.
“It made me feel so special and important,” she told USA Today.
But it wasn’t just the tip. It was the woman’s encouraging words that really left an impression on Schlesteder.
“Have an amazing new year… it gets easier.”
It was a simple message, one that made Schlesteder feel better about what she was going through—and sent her the simple message that there were people who really understood what she felt and wanted to encourage others.
“She made a difference,” said waitress Heather Schelsteder.