It was a peaceful morning at a local diner named 130 Diner in Delran, New Jersey. Most of the tables were empty and it was just 5:30 in the morning. One waitress was seen cleaning up and working during her early morning shift when suddenly two men came in.
After the two men finished their meal, they were taken aback by what the waitress wrote on their bill.
Tim Young and Paul Hullings had an exhausting evening, they were firefighters. They just had one of the most intense rescue missions they’ve ever experienced the previous night. But right now, they just wanted to take a break.
As they drove through town, they were trying to find a diner that was open. When they saw 130 Diner’s signs were lit up, they heaved a sigh of relief and decided to drop by.
Liz Woodward was alone during her morning shift but she continued to work hard. It was a quiet early morning during her shift and there were no customers yet at that hour, so she decided to clean the tables and standby.
It didn’t take a while before the first customers of the day entered and she was surprised to see who they were.
As the two firefighters entered the diner, they saw the lone waitress cleaning the tables. The waitress greeted them with a smile as they sat down. Her expression seemed surprised but they didn’t mind, it must be because of their rugged uniforms due to their previous mission.
After figuring out what they wanted to order, they called her attention.
She recognized them
Liz swore she saw those faces somewhere before. She tried to stay calm and greeted the two customers with a smile. She assisted them as best as she could but she couldn’t seem to stop thinking about where she saw them before.
As she observed the two men, she noticed how their uniforms were dusty and parts of their faces were covered in ash. She tried not to pry, but later, she realized who those men actually were.
Liz moved towards the two men to take their order. “I need the largest cup of coffee you have on the menu,” Paul told the waitress. His companion also ordered the same thing. It seems the two firefighters wanted to replenish their energy after an exhausting night. Liz wrote down their orders and went on her way to get them.
As she was preparing their orders, she was still trying to figure out who the two men were. She glanced up the TV and suddenly everything made sense.
The night before
Tim and Paul were no strangers in responding to emergency missions, but their mission the night before was one of the most stressful missions they’ve done. They were called to put out a fire, and it was no ordinary fire, a huge warehouse facility was burning!
Putting out the fire
It took their team nearly 12 hours before they completely finished putting out the fire. They finished around early morning and they realized they haven’t eaten anything since the mission. So they decided to grab a meal.
Liz had always treated her job seriously. She knew that being in the service industry required hardwork but it was a noble job. She would often be asked to work during odd hours and she was used to manning the tables alone.
Just like the firefighters, Liz also had a busy night. She would often feel tired and although her job has been taking a toll on her health, she continued to persevere. She needed to work hard not only for herself but for her family as well.
Watching the TV
Whenever Liz wasn’t occupied with tasks, she would try to find time to catch her breath and rest. The diner had a TV installed and she would often watch the news during her breaks.
While she was preparing their coffee, she looked up the TV and saw the news.
She could not believe her eyes. She stared at the TV in shock while holding the coffee pot in one hand. Her jaw dropped and her eyes widened when she realized she was in the presence of two real-life heroes.
What she saw
Just 30 minutes away from the diner, a huge fire broke out the night before. It happened in a warehouse in North Brunswick. The flames swallowed the area almost completely. After the fire had been put out, she saw the damage it had caused and saw the faces of the firefighters.
She glanced at the two men in the diner, she suddenly had an idea.
After serving their coffee, the two firefighters then asked to have one of the biggest breakfast items in their menu, the farmhouse breakfast. The mission seemed to have drained their energy and they needed food to help them make it through another day.
As the men were finishing up their meal, Liz wrote a note on their bill.
Liz was nervous, but she wanted to do this. She tried to keep her hands steady as she shakily wrote a note on their bill. She doodled a little ax on the side too.
When she noticed that they were finished with their meal, she approached their table and cleared their plates. She then placed the note in the middle of their table and walked away.
They picked up the bill and they were surprised by the special note attached to it. Their jaw dropped from what they read and tears started welling up in their eyes. It took them a while to gain their composure before they were able to react properly.
What could the waitress have possibly written to get such an intense reaction?
“Your breakfast is on me today—Thank you for all that you do; for serving others and for running into the places everyone else runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave, and strong… Thank you for being bold every day! Fueled by fire and driven by courage—what an example you are. Get some rest,” Liz wrote on their bill.
The two firefighters were well-aware that working in the service industry takes a lot of patience and hard work and for Liz to write something like this, it was unbelievable to them.
Liz would often work evening shifts just to make ends meet and to help pay for her student debt but Liz’s problems go beyond that…
The firefighters were so grateful that they decided to post Liz’s sweet gesture on Facebook and it went viral! “Such a selfless and kind act. I definitely urge my friends to make a trip out and support the business, and if Liz happens to be your waitress, tip big,” Tim wrote on their Facebook post.
But it was only after they created the post that they found out that Liz has been dealing with problems of her own.
It turns out Liz has been dealing with her own set of problems as well. Her dad has suffered from an aneurysm and he was left wheelchair-bound. Since then Liz has been trying to find ways to raise money for her dad. She even created a GoFundMe page in hopes of getting money to help them with their medical bills.
“Turns out, the young lady who gave us a free meal is really the one that could use the help…” Tim said.
After Paul and Tim’s Facebook post went viral, donations started pouring in. Liz was in awe, it seems good karma has found its way to her. Initially, the campaign’s goal was only $17,000 but after the post, she received triple the amount of what she initially needed.
“Our family has witnessed an outpouring of love and support from around the world, and I want to thank each and every one of you beautiful human beings for making this dream possible!” Liz said.