When Makenzie Schultz and her husband, Steven, sat down to a sushi dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for their sixth anniversary, they were looking to have a special night out. But things didn't go as smoothly as they'd hoped.
First, they waited 20 minutes for water. Then, they waited 40 minutes for an appetizer. And then they waited an hour for their entrees. So, what did they do?
They left their server a $100 tip, and a note that read, "We've both been in your shoes. Paying it forward."
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Schultz posted a photo of the receipt to her Facebook page on Sept. 27, and it went viral—racking up over 1.3 million likes (and counting) and mentions in blogs such as Eater.
She says she and her husband, who met while working as servers in a restaurant eight years ago, just wanted to do something to show they understood what it was like to be in their waiter's position.
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"No matter how much you apologize to tables, there are going to be people rolling their eyes," she told TODAY.com, of life as a server on a night when nothing goes right. "Throughout the dinner we were like, 'We've been in his position.'"
Rather than posting an angry review online or blasting the restaurant on Facebook, Schultz and her husband decided to take a negative situation and make it positive, recognizing that "he probably isn't going to get tips."
So Schultz wrote the note and the two left before their server could see the tip he probably was not expecting to receive.
"This definitely was not the largest tip there ever was," Schultz said. "We thought it could make his night a little bit easier."
Schultz said she posted the image on Facebook for family and friends, and never expected it to go viral. She and her husband wanted to keep the name of the venue anonymous, but TODAY.com was able to confirm the authenticity of the receipt with the restaurant itself.
"This is more about being kind and being generous," Schultz said. "We just wanted him to know that we've been in his shoes."
"I'm just sharing this as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation, before you judge," her Facebook caption concludes. "And always always always remember where you came from."