On Sunday, a woman came into the restaurant where waitress Megan King was working. As the woman sat eating her meal alone, King said she seemed “a bit sad.”
“She came in about halfway through my 17-hour shift, and it was on Sunday, which is always pretty busy,” King said, according to Newsweek. “About halfway through her meal, it started to slow down so we chatted for a few minutes.
“Small talk, nothing too deep. She told me she was almost 70 and has been slowing down a bit. She said she just wanted to stop by an old favorite for a bite.”
“She was sweet and easy to take care of.”
The woman paid for her food and left, but not before penning a note for the waitress. As soon as King spotted the note and read the message, she broke down in tears.
“Thank you very much for your kind service,” the note read. “This was my first time eating out alone since my husband passed. I was hoping I could get through it.”
“I was very surprised,” King said. “As soon as I read that she’d lost her husband, I lost it.
“I had to use the restroom to get myself together enough to tend to my other tables even though I really didn’t have time to take a rest.”
King tweeted about the encounter, sharing a picture of the note and the tip.
As internet strangers are wont to do, several Twitter users criticized the struggling diner, chastising her for only leaving behind a few dollars.
But King had words for them.
“old people who live on fixed income deserve to get out for a nice meal,” she tweeted. “big tippers make up for it anyway. im serving them. you arent. im standing by that, thanks.”
She also pointed out that the commenters didn’t know the basic facts: The woman’s meal had cost $11, so the $3 tip she left behind was generous.
“A lot of our customers are older and living on fixed incomes, so they tip what they can,” King later elaborated. “They are always welcome, no matter how much or little they tip.”
Hindsight has made King wish she’d done more — but perhaps she will have another chance in the future.
“In retrospect, I wish I would’ve taken her quiet as an invitation,” she said. “I think that’s what she wanted, looking back. She kept looking up at me so I assumed something wasn’t right with her meal or that she needed something.
“I guess she did, in a way. [She needed] an ear.”