Cayla, who was waiting tables at two restaurants and pinching pennies to make ends meet so she could go back to school always went the extra mile for her customers. She never expected anything in return but a standard tip, so she was completely shocked when two tourists that she served left her the biggest tip she’d ever seen. She was over the moon at their act of kindness and even went as far as to do something special for them in return, but what she didn’t know is that they had an ulterior motive for the gift.
Putting School On Hold
Cayla was going to school and working her way through, but then her bills just kept getting ahead of her so she finally came to the decision to put her schooling on hold to work and pay off her debts. Her own mother had not gotten a college education and wanted more than anything for her daughter to get her degree.
Cayla assured her mom that it was only temporary and that she was going to work two jobs to pay off the debt that she had racked up, and save a little more so she could go back to school. She has nothing but good things to say about her employers, but it was certainly not going to be easy for her to pay debts and go back to school.
Thai Food and Cheesecake
Sure enough, more than a year had gone by, and Cayla was steadily making loan payments, but she still had a long way to go. Luckily she had an excellent work ethic and was managing to juggle two waiting jobs at The Cheesecake Factory and Noi Thai Cuisine in Hawaii. Cayla originally moved to Hawaii for school.
It wasn’t easy, and the hours were hard, but she had come to Hawaii to fulfill her dream and make her family proud, plus her parents couldn’t help her financially so she decided to stay close by so she could continue her studies as quickly as possible without having to move again.
Random Acts of Kindness
One day she was serving tables at the Thai restaurant, which is an upscale yet cozy place that serves authentic Thai delicacies and is famous for their gorgeous and creative presentation of the food. Its reputation as “best Thai food on the island” makes it the number one recommendation for tourists visiting Hawaii.
It was a busy shift, but Cayla was being her usual cheerful self. She was pretty tired with only a couple hours left on her shift, but she always kept a smile on her face, because she takes pride in her ability to give each customer a personalized experience.
Though Cayla came to Hawaii for school, she also came for the same reason that so many tens of thousands of visitors come each year, for the beautiful outdoor activities, the relaxing beaches, and the aloha spirit.
She was very much looking forward to getting off shift and taking a relaxing walk home before going to sleep because she had to be at her other job at the Cheesecake factory the very next morning. Her mind was wondering but had to keep sharp focus to not mess up orders.
Volunteering For One Last Table
Just as the stream of customers coming in the door started to slow down, a couple from Australia came in. Cayla was just about to go home, but her manager asked for a volunteer to serve their table, and even though her feet were aching, she volunteered right away, and she could not imagine how happy she would be that she did.
It’s not unusual to see tourists at the restaurant, and this older couple happened to be visiting from Australia. It did not matter that it was the end of her shift, Cayla paid special attention to give them an amazing experience with perfect attention to detail.
What Made Her Do It?
They were very appreciative of the good service and they were friendly in return. They even struck up a conversation, Cayla wanted to know about if there are really kangaroos everywhere in Australia, and in turn they wanted to know what brought her to Hawaii.
Cayla likes to connect personally whenever she can with the guests because it makes the time nicer not only for the customer but also puts a smile on her face and makes her time pass in a much more pleasant way than if she just looks at each customer as a number. Perhaps this special habit of hers was the key to what happened next.
A Mistake With The Bill
The couple finished up eating, thanked Cayla for the nice conversation and then they ordered the bill and left. But after they left Cayla went to clear the table and pick up the check. She looked over the bill and realized with some worry there was something wrong with the tip they had left on the bill. She called over her boss.
The boss took one look at the bill and saw what she meant. In a hurry, they even tried to run after the couple, but they had already left. She looked again at the bill to double check what she was seeing was real. Now she was thinking twice about how she had volunteered to take the table!
Not Out Of The Blue
The bill had rung up to $205.44, which was typical for dinner at Thai Noi, but what was so unusual is that they had left a $400 tip! The new total was $605.44. She stared at it, but sure enough, it was no mistake, they had meant to leave her this generous gift.
If anyone deserved it, it was Cayla, since she was working so hard to makes end meet and yet she never let her hardships show, always going above and beyond for her customers no matter what kind of day she is having. She liked making others happy, no matter what she was feeling.
Hope To Carry On
And on top of that, the Australian couple could not have given it to a more thankful recipient, Cayla was never expecting this, and this was absolutely the thing she needed to restore hope in humanity and give her hope to carry on.
Her heart was so full of joy, she felt like she had to do something. Her mom always taught her growing up that if you really want to show someone your appreciation and tell them thank you, you do it the old fashioned way – you deliver a hand-written thank-you note.
Hatching A Plan
So she knew exactly what she was going to do to convey her gratitude. She devised a little plan, she was going to take a little of the money and give them in return a token of her gratitude. The very next day she went to the local Safeway to pick up some things.
She picked up some flowers and a simple card and then went to compose a handwritten and heartfelt note to the couple, telling them that the money they had given her so much hope and that she was looking forward to the day she could help someone else as they had helped her.
Going To Find Them
She knew from their conversation where the couple were staying during their vacation, and the place happened to only be a couple of blocks away from the restaurant where she worked. So she took the flowers and the card and went there, not knowing exactly what she would do.
When she arrived, she went to talk to the front desk to arrange to have the flowers and the card delivered along with a special dessert to be sent up from room service. She paid for the desert and left the flowers and the card with the front desk, that way she didn’t need to know exactly what room they were staying in and possibly over-step bounds.
She felt so good that she had taken the time to thank them properly, she could rest easy now that she felt she had expressed her appreciation. Their gift continued to put a smile on her face each day. She would never forget what they had done.
The cost of living in Hawaii, particularly in the island of Oahu, is higher compared to those of many other states in the US. However, their gift was almost an entire month’s rent since Cayla chose to live with roommates to keep her costs down.
Since it’s quite the tourist town, it’s unusual to see the same faces again and again in the restaurant, so a few days later Cayla did a double take when she saw a familiar couple walk through the door of the restaurant.
Sure enough, it was the same Australian couple who had left her the gift. Cayla was certainly ecstatic about seeing the kind strangers again, but they didn’t come over to talk to her, instead, they just asked the host to speak with the manager, and suddenly Cayla’s excitement turned to worry.
Asked To Speak To The Manager
The Australian couple spoke in low tones for several minutes to the manager, before finally sitting down at the same table they had sat at a few days prior. Cayla was slightly concerned, had she gone too far with bringing them a gift to their hotel?
Maybe they had thought it was a break in their privacy and they had wanted to speak to her boss about it. Her boss came up and said he needs to speak with her. He took her aside and let her know that the couple had requested her to be their server again.
So with relief, Cayla went over to the table to take their order. The man ordered Tom Yum lobster and the woman ordered the lunch special as well as mango sticky rice dessert as if they were celebrating something. But that wasn’t all they ordered.
They not only requested her to be their waitress, but they also invited her to sit down to eat with them, it turns out that in their earlier conversation with her boss, they had already asked permission for her to take a break from work to sit with them.
Cayla has been working 80 hours per week to fulfill her duties as a waitress for two Waikiki restaurants. That leaves her minimal time to do anything outside of her working hours, so she was super excited to sit with them but also curious what this was all about.
They really hit it off last time, so maybe they just felt like sharing a meal with her. The Australian couple were definitely special for her, she may only be their waitress, but that was no reason that they couldn’t be friends.
But that was not the case, because when she took off her apron and sat down, they said they had something to talk to her about. She couldn’t possibly imagine what they wanted since they had already given her nearly a month’s rent in one tip last time they visited the restaurant.
But she sat down with an open mind, interested to hear what it was that they wanted to talk to her about. Not everyone can be like Cayla in luckily encountering generous people who appreciated her hard work and showed compassion for her plight, so it was the least she could do to hear them out.
A Rare Thing
That’s when they told her what was on their mind. They let her know that they had talked between themselves and they wanted to do two things for her. First of all, they made an offer that made the $400 tip pale in comparison.
Cayla was so shocked that for a moment she was completely speechless. What they had told her is they wanted to sponsor her education. They were going to pay for her 2 remaining years of school tuition plus the costs associated with it such as books and materials.
A Good Deed
As if that wasn’t enough, they didn’t stop there. Cayla’s eyes just kept getting wider and wider. They also told her they knew that she couldn’t go back to school with so many debts, so they were also going to do one more thing, that brought Cayla to tears. They were going to pay off her current school-related debts, so she could have a fresh start.
They were going to pay off her current school-related debts, so she could have a fresh start. Cayla wasn’t just internally thankful for getting such an offer, she was over the moon. Though with all the excitement in her heart, there was something holding her back, because she knew deep down something else.
They Offered Something She Couldn’t Accept
Cayla wasn’t letting herself get excited because she thought about it long and hard, but finally decided she would not be able to accept the gifts. “They’re just too generous, I know it sounds crazy, but the offer means the world to me, but I just can’t accept such a large sum of money from total strangers!”
The couple wanted to give Cayla more than $10,000 to get out of debt. She said she just wanted to thank them, she didn’t mean to ask for more when she had sent the thank you note, it was just an innocent act of showing appreciation to the generous couple. Cayla did not want the gracious couple to think that she had ulterior motives in her visit to their hotel.
She clarified that it was nothing but a desire to personally express her gratitude, not a concealed attempt to ask for more. The couple was extremely impressed with her humility and her good ethics, and they told her that it was her choice, and to take until the end of the meal to decide.
Cayla’s mind was racing because she felt she shouldn’t take the money, and yet this was an opportunity that only comes around once in a lifetime. What finally pushed her to the final decision was something that the woman asked her.
Hearts Of Gold
The woman asked her about her family, and Cayla remembered how hard her mom had worked her whole life, and how badly her mother wanted her to go to school. She decided then and there she would accept the gift and continue to work part-time, only now she would work easier hours and she would use the money to help support her mother.
The Australian couple wants to remain anonymous, telling her that the best way to thank them is by becoming the best possible version of herself and by dreaming big and striving for her goals. Cayla agreed and promised that she will make them proud.
A New Path
The fortunate Waikiki waitress plans on studying liberal arts and business in college. She hopes to go back to school as soon as possible. Thankful and motivated, she wants to pass the blessings on by showing generosity and compassion to other people. She has high hopes of becoming successful someday.
According to Cayla, the Australian couple who promised financial and moral support for her academic endeavors intend to return to Hawaii to be present during her graduation. It’s an event Cayla and everyone inspired by her story are looking forward to.