Waitress Receives Unexpected Tip, Changes Her Life
| LAST UPDATE 03/22/2022
Shikira was a full-time waitress, working hard at a local Denny's when her life changed forever. After receiving a generous tip, it seemed as if everything was too good to be true. And perhaps it was...
Our story starts and ends with Shikira Edwards: a devoted mother and student living in Memphis, Tennessee. She worked very hard her entire life, knowing success wouldn't be just handed to her.
This cheerful young woman had big dreams to make it in her life. She put in countless hours of dedication and effort to reach her goals and take care of herself. She had dreams to achieve and, in doing so, worked hard to see them turn into her reality.
Shikira Edwards was studying to be a dental assistant. She worked endless hours to save enough money for herself and pay off her student loans. In addition to paying for college, Edwards was paying for rent and all her necessities. Although it wasn't easy, she put in 100% of her energy to make ends meet.
Edwards worked part-time at a local Denny's for three years to pay off all her student loans. Besides working hard as a waitress, she also took classes and studied in dental school. Safe to say, it was a constant challenge. But she wasn't going to give up.
Not only was Shikira Edwards a hard-working dental student and waitress at Denny's, but Shikira was also a full-time mother. Her son was a big reason why Edwards was so motivated to thrive in school and make enough money to pay off her loans. She didn't want to let him down.
No matter the day, Shikira would study hard and work harder to ensure a better life for her and her son. Although balancing all these tasks wasn't easy, Edwards spent time with her son knowing it was the push she needed to put in 110% every single day.
Working Towards Her Dream
Edwards would pop on over to Denny's several times a week. She knew that it would take some time, but she would push through and reach her dreams. She reminded herself that it would be worth it with every table she cleaned and every demanding customer she dealt with.
Yes, Denny's wasn't always a walk in the park, but she needed all the money she could get. The more she worked, the more stability she and her son would have. It wasn't always the fastest way to save up, but it was a step in the right direction for a struggling and hard-working dental student.
Life at Denny’s
Shikira's college courses were pretty demanding and exhausting, so simple day-to-day tasks at Denny's were a great way to earn money while allowing her time to study. The single-mother worked shifts at the diner when she had time off between campus days.
Conveniently, the diner wasn't too far away, making it easier for her to balance her time between working shifts at the restaurant and completing all her classes. Most importantly, Shikira knew that all this hard work would guide her towards a better life for her and her son.
A Day on the Job
For Edwards, the job was a lot to handle between her class-load, studying, and being a mother. Luckily, the tasks at the restaurant generally required low mental effort, which gave her a great sigh of relief from studying and taking classes during the week.
Most of the tasks included taking orders and cleaning tables. However, occasionally she had to deal with something way more exhausting than anything else: rude and unappreciative customers. Edwards pushed through those moments with one goal in mind, knowing her work would eventually pay off.
Her Daily Customers
As a part of the service industry, she was unfortunately used to these challenging customers and gradually became less and less phased by the over-demanding customers at work. She continued to hope that dealing with these challenges would ultimately be worth it.
As time progressed, the waitress became able to scope out her customers. She was officially an expert at reading the expressions on their faces. So when an elderly couple walked into the diner one fateful day, Shikira instantly knew something was different in the air.
The Couple That Changed Everything
With that being said, after three years in the service industry, Edwards knew a thing or two about customer service. When this elderly couple came into Denny's that day, she could see kindness written all over their faces - something inside of her told her to serve them.
The young college student put on a friendly smile and began to approach the now seated woman and her husband, eager to help. Edwards didn't believe they would be the type of customers to complain too much and would leave as happy and satisfied customers.
A Pleasant Surprise
There was much more to this couple than met the eye for Edwards. The couple happily went out of their way to tell Shikira that she had a cheerful attitude, which was a complete breath of fresh air for the waitress. Shikira Edwards felt greatly appreciated by the couple!
Unfortunately, Edwards was not used to such compliments working in the service industry, so the compliment significantly brightened her mood. Shikira had a good feeling about that day in the restaurant, all due to the kindhearted couple who sat down.
Edwards worked a part-time job, putting herself through dental school, studying, and taking classes while being a full-time mom. All these tasks seemed impossible at times, but all Shikira could do was muster up the strength and momentum to keep going.
It was on days like these where Edwards felt optimistic about her future. Even though it wasn't totally clear what was going on at the time, the change Shikira had wished for was near when the elderly husband and wife decided to share a meal at Denny's.
The couple was now on their way out, and Edwards was all smiles. The elderly customers thanked her for her service, and she wished them a beautiful day! As they left the diner, the waitress couldn't help but wish for all her customers to be just as pleasant.
Morale was high, and Edwards was ready to continue the day in this great mood. She happily grabbed the cleaning spray and paper towels, wiped down the couple's table, and cleared their meals. When she finished doing so, she continued the day with a smile on her face.
An Unusual Message
As the day continued, so did her great mood! However, later that day, Edwards received a call from her Denny's manager, who sat in an office at the restaurant. He told her he wanted to discuss something but wouldn't reveal precisely why he wanted to meet. What was going on?
Shikira found it to be a bit odd her boss would call her up to his office out of the blue like that. Nonetheless, she dropped what she was doing and headed his way, bracing herself for the worst. However, once she arrived at his office, she was met with the ultimate surprise.
What Did Her Manager Want?
But we're not there just yet. And after Shikira Edwards received the call, she couldn't help but feel confused and worried about what was going on. Sure, she worked as a waitress for three years. But she had no idea what to think when it came down to her boss's mysterious request.
There were so many questions running through her head. What could the manager of the diner possibly want to discuss with her? Did she do something wrong? Did she make a mistake at work? Making her way down to the manager's office was intimidating, but she would soon find out what the phone call was regarding.
Her Mind Was Racing
Edwards's way to the office felt even longer than usual that day. She had so many thoughts going on in her mind, and the cheerful emotions she had felt earlier were suddenly gone. Instead, Shikira's mind was racing with questions and concerns - lots of them.
As she headed towards the office, she thought of the stress of working part-time at the diner, studying to become a dental assistant, and raising a son. She knew she was doing all of this to work towards a brighter future for her and her son, so any bad news from her manager could have really set her behind.
The Moment of Truth
When she finally reached his office, she patiently and anxiously waited for her boss to appear. She scoured the room to see if she could spot anything that immediately pointed out why she was there. But it wasn't until he showed her a piece of paper with a number on it that she understood what was going on.
To her absolute disbelief, her boss revealed to her that the elderly couple she helped earlier in the day had left her an abnormally large tip. Usually, Edwards received around 10% of tips from the customer's check, but this was unlike anything she had ever received or heard of.
An Unexpected Tip
Shikira simply couldn't believe what was going on as she held the check in her hands and stared at the total written on it. The check clearly printed $4,451,61 on it! There were endless thoughts in her head as she processed the couple's surprisingly large tip left for her.
She was completely and utterly shocked by what was going on, but she slowly realized that number was for real and was all for her. After all these years working in the diner, she could not believe that the life-altering moment she was holding out for was finally here.
Edwards knew no matter how hard she worked, her student loan wouldn't just disappear like that. However, when the waitress saw that four-digit amount written on the bill, she knew nothing would ever be the same. Suddenly, Shikira felt a sigh of relief.
Edwards thought of what this money meant to her son, her education, and overall life. She felt highly gracious for this couple, who had just changed her life for the better. She knew this money would help her give her the momentum she needed to keep going and focus more on her studies and her son than working at the diner.
Sharing the News
She felt her three years of working at the diner finally paying off. The young dental student thought of all the stressful moments and challenges she persevered against and kept going. She revealed the news of the generous tip and her reaction to local news station FOX 13.
"It's just such a blessing to have good people like that that are still here and that God did answer my prayers, because he knows what I go through. For someone to look at me and bless me in that way, in that way, shape, or form, there's no blessing too high or too low for God, and I appreciate her so much," Shikira gushed.
Shikira was beyond ecstatic with the miracle that happened on her shift at Denny's. She decided she was going to do something else with the money - besides paying off her student loan debt. Edwards wanted to do something selfless for a woman in a situation like hers.
In addition to paying off her debts, she was eager to give back to others who were also in need. Shikira decided she was going to donate a portion of the tips to a non-profit organization that helped adolescents struggling with depression. Or at least that's what she thought...
Her Manager Stepped In
The manager definitely saw the joy in Shikiras eyes that day after he delivered the exciting news. She was utterly speechless but greatly appreciative towards the couple for their generous tip. She went home more grateful than ever that day, excited for what was to come next.
However, Shikira soon realized the manager didn't call her into his office just to give her the money that was left by the couple - something else was going on. She realized her bright dream of receiving over $4,000 dollars in tips was about to disappear in the blink of an eye.
Taking Back the Cash
As it turned out, the Denny's manager did not share the same enthusiasm about the tip as Shikira did. It appeared he was more concerned over the matter than anything else. The young dental student and waitress felt her dreams crashing down as her manager call her back into his office…
Edwards' manager wanted to further discuss the matter at hand, and he suddenly delivered news to her that she simply hadn't seen coming: He withheld the check from the hardworking waitress and informed her he would keep it until she completed a specific task.
Shikira Was Outraged
As she saw her manager place the check back into his pocket, she felt her world crumbling down around her. Everything she worked for had finally made its way towards her, and she couldn't comprehend why her manager would do such a thing - especially knowing her working situation.
Shikira's feelings of sadness and shock turned into anger real quick as she saw him take the check from her hands. She was stunned to see what her manager was doing. What right did he have to take that well-earned money from her? It was wildly outrageous, she thought.
An Impossible Mission
Shikira's boss kept the $4,451.61 check and gave the young dental student a specific task. He asked her to hunt down the elderly couple who left the tip, explaining he needed to confirm that the couple did intend to leave such an overwhelmingly large tip.
She was shocked to hear what the manager wanted her to do, as there was no way the couple accidentally left such a large tip. Additionally, they had left the diner without saying a word, so why would the manager have her go on this difficult search? Nonetheless, he insisted she was to find them before she got any money.
"I'm Just Hurt"
She could see her future sitting in her boss's pocket - and she would not let it go without doing everything in her power. She felt she deserved that tip, and she was ready to do some digging to get some answers - and, more importantly, receive her hard-earned cash.
"You're going to tell me that it's my fault that I didn't get the information on a customer when they left and tipped me," Edwards later recalled. "I'm just hurt that they would tell me something like… this is the only resolution to look as if I'm wrong to ask for something I know I deserve."
At a Standstill
A lot rode on whether or not Shikira could find the couple behind the generous deed. But she wasn't sure if she could successfully find them. In America, the average amount of tips waitresses receive per week is between $298 and $500, so her $4,451.61 could have changed everything.
As she reminisced on her old high school photos, Shikira thought of all her dreams and goals. She knew she wanted to make significant changes for her son and work through all the hardships to become a dental assistant. And just like that, she knew what she had to do next.
Speaking Her Truth
Edwards decided the best route was to contact the local news outlet and let the story spread. The quickest way to do this was to inform the news station what happened and that her manager was withholding the check until she located the mysterious customers.
"You're going to tell me that it's my fault that I didn't get the information on a customer when they left and tipped me," Edwards said. "I don't know who tipped me." The waitress confessed that it would have been no surprise if someone at the restaurant tried to pocket the money for themselves.
What Did Denny’s Have To Say?
Things took a sharp turn for the waitress when her manager at Denny's saw the segment and was not pleased with what he saw. He reached out to local news station FOX 13 and decided to tell them Shikira's story was false and provided his story instead.
A spokesperson for the diner said, "Denny's is working diligently with our Banking/Credit Card Department to locate the guest and verify the large tip amount." Shikira's manager insisted they couldn't let their employee have the tip without contacting the customer first. But how were they going to find them?!
The Investigation Continued
The mystery of the anonymous tip wasn't going to be left unsolved, and Shikira waited anxiously for all the answers. As it turned out, Denny's confirmed that the customer never meant to leave such a big tip intentionally - and unfortunately, they were forced to cancel the check temporarily.
"This investigation involved the franchise, its manager and staff, the guest, and his bank," they revealed. "We understand the disappointment our server must feel." They further explained that the customer left such a large tip as they were unfamiliar with the billing system at the diner.
Not Backing Down
Shikira was not ready to accept that the investigation had ended and that the tip amount left for her was a mistake. Additionally, according to Atlanta Black Star, the franchise never provided Edwards with any proof that they had actually met with the customers, leaving many unanswered questions.
Edwards had been a trustworthy and loyal employee to Denny's for three years and claimed she had done her job and earned that tip! Infuriated with the results, Shikira Edwards added that she planned to sue the restaurant if she didn't receive the money she strongly deserved.
Who Was Right in the Situation?
After the final decision over the matter was made, Shikira was left completely devastated. "Whatever is done in the dark, I just pray that it just comes to the light," the waitress explained. "I pray that whatever God has in store for me will reveal."
Unfortunately, Shikira Edwards was not the only waitress put in this tricky situation. Some similar servers had happy endings, and some waitresses never saw the money they worked endlessly to earn. The million-dollar question remains: Who was really in the wrong here?