Courtney English was eight months pregnant and extremely exhausted. But she was expecting her first child and she needed to save as much money as possible before her little one made its debut in the world. So, she toiled away at the restaurant where she worked day in and day out to make some extra cash.
Unfortunately, the customers at the Lamp Post Diner in New Jersey weren't generally big tippers. At least, that's what Courtney thought, until a cop did the unthinkable after his receipt was put on his table.
Being a Waitress Was Tough
Although the restaurant industry hires workers all year long, the work itself can be challenging. If anyone knew that it was Courtney English who worked as a waitress at the Lamp Post Diner in Clementon, New Jersey. Although it wasn't her dream job, she was able to put smiles on her customers faces every day.
Waitressing Didn't Offer a Lot
The only thing people like English could expect from a waitressing job was a very low wage with virtually no benefits and in some cases, even dangerous working conditions. But how was waitressing dangerous?
Harrassment is Common
Harrassment from supervisors is common despite all the laws that have been passed to ensure that harrassment in the workplace doesn't happen. But customers can get pretty hands-on, too, and it's hard to lose one's temper with them as this can often lead to the termination of the server. But this isn't the only issue waitresses face.
The Benefits Aren't That Great
Some restaurants don't provide their servers with health insurance or even sick leave. So, some waiters and waitresses can't really afford to call in sick or even go get a check-up at the hospital on a regular basis. But it's the pay that is often considered the most ridiculous part about the job.
The Pay is Horrible
On average, the annual salary for waiters and waitresses is about $19,990. And there are a lot of states across the United States that allow establishments to pay employees less than minimum wage if they earn tips from customers. But English wasn't sweating it.
She Had a Lot to Be Thankful For
As of 2019, English had been working at the Lamp Post Diner for two years and was familiar with the ins and outs of the job. But she was also carrying a tiny human in her belly, and being on her feet all day wasn't exactly easy.
It Was Tiring Being Pregnant and Waitressing
Waitressing alone isn't easy, but doing it while being pregnant is even tougher. But English did it with a smile on her face and a song in her heart because she knew that her situation was only temporary.
She Was Planning to Pop in Less Than Two Months
Courtney was waitressing in February 2019 and her due date was on April 1. So, she still had a couple of weeks to go before she could hold her baby in her arms. In the meantime, she decided to stay busy and make some extra money by continuing to work.
It Was An Emotional Time
Being pregnant meant that her hormones were raging inside her body. This often makes pregnant women more emotional and sensitive, which is why it was so important that customers show English some kindness. But that didn't always happen.
Some Customers Were a Nightmare
There were a lot of instances where people were pleasant, but on ocassion, she encountered a customer that complained about their food being too cold or the service being very slow. But she tried to brush the negativity aside. Besides, she had a lot of support at work which made her very happy.
Her Co-Workers Were the Best
"It is tough waitressing at this point, but I have a lot of help; my co-workers won't let me lift heavy trays, and they give me sections close to the kitchen," English shared with TODAY Food. "I have the greatest support from my co-workers and bosses."
She Was Used to the Familiar Faces
Having worked at the same establishment for as long as she had, English had gotten good at recognizing the faces of recurring customers. But there was one customer who entered the restaurant during the week that she had never seen before.
She Noticed an Unfamiliar Customer
February 15, 2019 was a date that English was never going to forget because the customer she served was a Voorhees County police officer. Now this wasn't really such an extraordinary thing because cops frequented the diner. But she had no idea how this particular officer was going to affect her.
The Officer Became One of Her Customers
The officer sat at one of the tables she was waiting on during the lunch rush. She walked over to him and took his order down. Then she went ahead and forwarded his order to the kitchen. This was a typical routine, but her customer was anything but typical.
She Had a Brief Chat With the Officer
Once the order was ready, English placed the food on a tray, returned to the officer's table and served him his order. But her interaction with him didn't end there. They had a brief but pleasant exchange before she moved on to her next customer.
She Spoke to Other Customers About Her Pregnancy
When she waited on the next table, the customers focused on English's baby bump and asked her what she was having and when the baby was due. She was, of course, more than happy to answer their questions. But she didn't realize that the officer was eavesdropping.
The Officer Overheard Everything
The officer was sitting near the large group that English was waiting on and he overheard everything she had told them about her pregnancy, like how she was expecting a little girl and that it was going to be her first kid. But English had no idea that he was listening in on the conversation.
She Handed Him His Check
After waiting on other people, English went back to the officer and asked him if he needed anything else. And all he asked for was the check, which she gladly obliged. After ringing in everything he had ordered his total came to $8.75. He gave her his credit card and she ran it through the machine. Then she returned to him, left him the credit card slip to sign and left.
She Was Floored by the Officer
She went back to making sure that all of her other customers were okay and that they had everything they needed like plenty to drink, extra napkins, and condiments for their food. But when she went back to the table where the officer had been sitting, she was floored by what she saw.
He Had Overpaid
The officer was gone but English wasn't worried because she saw that he had signed the slip. Also, he was an officer of the law and she didn't assume that he would ever stiff her. But when she went to check the slip, she realized that he had paid more than the bill's total.
His Order Was So Basic
The officer had ordered a salad and a glass of water. It was hardly worth the amount of money he had left for her. So, she had no idea how he could have made such a huge mistake with the final total. Then a thought occurred to her. Could this have been a tip?
He Had Left Her a Huge Tip
Leaving servers a tip on the table was customary, but English had learned the hard way that most people only leave a buck or two if she was lucky. The officer, however, had left her an enormous tip, possibly the biggest she had ever gotten in her life as a server.
She Assumed He Had An Emergency
At first she assumed that the officer had simply written the wrong amount of tip on the slip. It wasn't unusual for this to happen, especially if he had gotten a call to investigate a robbery and had to rush out of the restaurant. But when she looked at the credit card slip again, she realized that wasn't the case.
He Left Her a Note
The officer had written a note just for her on the credit card slip and it dawned on her that he had heard the conversation she had with the other customers about her pregnancy. But what did the note say?
The Thoughtful Message
The note read: "Enjoy ur 1st. You will never forget it." The message was beyond thoughtful, but the thing that really brought her to tears was the $100 tip he had left for her. It wasn't a mistake after all. He had meant to leave this just for her.
She Told Her Manager Right Away
With tears in her eyes, English went to the back room and showed her manager the officer's bill. At first, the manager wasn't sure if something was wrong because all they saw was English in tears and they quickly assumed that something horrible had happened. But when English explained the situation, the manager was also overjoyed.
She Caught Her Breath
English took a moment to regain her composure before explaining to her manager that the officer had left her a sweet note and a $100 written in the bill's tip section that she could charge on his card. This might not have seemed like a big deal, but the amount was more than what she earned in an average day.
She Wanted to Thank Him In Person
“It’s truly a blessing to come across people like him and I’m forever thankful for that,” English explained to the Gloucester Township Patch. But now she wanted to find the officer and thank him for his generosity.
She Ran Out to Find Him
English did her best to rush out of the restaurant to see if she could find the officer. But her joy turned to despair when she wasn't able to find him. Then she came up with an idea, but she had to wait until her shift ended to execute it.
She Told Her Dad What Happened
Once English got home, she called the Voorhees Township Police Department to find the officer. But first, she told her dad, Brian Cadigan, what had happened. And he was so overwhelmed by the generous tip and the note that he decided to take a photo of it and share it on Facebook.
It's Not the Amount That Moved Him
On Facebook, Cadigan wrote: “It’s not the amount, it’s the humanity of it. He saw she was struggling and a young girl. She was working in a diner while pregnant, standing with that kind of weight on her, and it was his way of saying, ‘I understand your struggle.’” But he wasn't done posting.
Not All Cops Are Bad Apples
“You always hear about how bad the police are, how they treated you like dirt, how they are on a power trip,” Cadigan continued on his post. “I am sure there are some bad apples, but most of them are just doing their jobs, they deal with the worst of society every day and have to keep going back every day and deal with it all over again.”
Cadigan's Facebook Post Went Viral
The Facebook post went viral with approximately 10,000 reactions, thousands of shares, and thousands of comments. One person wrote: “What a wonderful thing to do, this story warms my heart. I’ve always respected police officers.” But altering misconceptions about cops wasn't the only thing the post did.
People Around the World Reached Out To the Waitress
Soon people from across the United States and beyond started ringing the Lamp Post Diner to talk to English. More importantly, they wanted to help her out by donating money. “They wanna know if they can help her because it’s the first child,” manager Victor Sierra said. “It’s the gesture about somebody helping somebody else.” But was English ever able to find the officer?
The Officer's Identity Remained a Mystery
Despite English's best efforts, the generous officer chose to remain anynomous. Clearly, helping the waitress was all the recognition he needed. But she and her dad, Brian, still wanted to express their gratitude.
She Thanked The Police Department With Donuts
English and Brian walked into the Vorhees Police Department one day with boxes full of police officers' favorite treats-- donuts! And the police were so grateful that they posted on their Twitter page: “Thanks to Brian Cadigan & Courtney English for bringing in treats for our staff this morning.” But would the anonymous officer get the message, too?
The Anonymous Officer Got the Message
The police department promised English that they would personally tell the officer responsible for leaving the $100 and the thoughtful note just how grateful she and her dad were with his generosity. This warmed English's heart, because she was dealing with a lot at home.
She Broke Up With Her Boyfriend
English's dad, Brian, explained that his daughter and her boyfriend were no longer together. Fortunately, he was committed to being completely supportive of her and the baby throughout the pregnancy and beyond. But while the waitress no longer had a man in her life, she still had plenty of good things coming her way.
Her Luck Had Changed
The $100 tip the officer left for her appeared to have been an omen of good fortune because things got so much better for English after that day. Not only was she living under her dad's roof again, but she got more donations from kind hearted strangers and that's not all...
She Had a Special Delivery
In the United States, April 1st is synonymous with April Fool's Day. But English was still hopeful that everything was going to work out for the best on the day she gave birth. Her doctor told her that she was going to pop on this very unusual day in 2019. Then English gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Kayleigh, and she couldn't be happier. But she actually missed her expected due date.
The Baby Was Born Late
Her doctor had predicted that English's due date was going to be on April 1st, but as it turns out, Kayleigh was born on April 6th, 2019. That's five days after April Fool's Day. And she was perfect at 7 pounds and 3 ounces. But there was even better news for both English and the baby.
She Patched Things Up With Her Ex
English assumed that she was going to have to raise Kayleigh all on her own, with her dad's help of course. But fortunately, she was able to patch things up with her ex and they are now back together as a family.
She's Totally Rocking Motherhood
Although there's always a learning curve for first time moms, English is doing a great job as a mother. But she had heard from customers and friends about how tough motherhood was going to be, and they were right.
She Wanted to Focus On Her Daughter
The worst thing about being a mom is that there never seems to enough time in the day to do everything, especially sleep. English was exhausted, so she decided to put her job as a waitress at the diner on hold and fortunately, her boss was cool with that.
She Had Been Having a Bad Day
The day she got that incredible tip had been a major struggle for lots of personal reasons, but the tip had not only eased some of her financial issues, but also put a smile on her face and made her hopeful of the future that eventually came.
She Will Never Forget
Although some time has passed since that fateful day when that officer walked into the diner and left her a tip for $100, English will never forget that amazing day. Granted, a hundred bucks isn't the same as a million, but the kindness the officer showed her that day was priceless.
She Hopes Others Will Be Kind
Most people walk into a restaurant and tend to forget that the waitress or waiter that's serving them is a human with problems of their own. So, a kind word or even an extra nice tip can really go a long way towards making their day better.
Remember to Tip
English is well aware that there are some folks who either don't tip well or at all. But she's hoping that her story of generosity will inspire others to remember to tip their servers, even if all they can afford is $5, so that their waiter or waitress can go home to their family with a smile on their face.
The Story Caught the Media's Attention
Since the story went viral on social media, it was only a matter of time before news channels picked up the story of the officer who left English the generous tip, and a lot of Americans felt that the story was absolutely awesome.
The Good Publicity Did Everyone a World of Good
According to English, she was happy that the story affected so many people, particularly the diner she worked in, which got plenty of publicity and more business because of the Facebook post. Her hope now is that her perseverance to work while expecting will inspire other pregnant women to find joy in their work, too.