Updated:Shaina Brown works the graveyard shift at a Raleigh, North Carolina Waffle House, where she pours coffee and shuttles orders of smothered hashbrowns to bleary-eyed customers.
This is one of the two part-time jobs the single mother works in order to help care for her three young children as she attends classes in hopes of one day becoming an English teacher.
So imagine her surprise on Motherâs Day when, at 3:30 in the morning, a customer left her a $1,000 tip after especially good service.
âHe said, âIâm going to bless you today,ââ Brown, 26, told FoxNews.com on Tuesday. âHe was just trying to show that there are still good people out there.â
Not so fast, her manager told her.
Waffle House, it turns out, has a policy against servers receiving such large gratuities via credit card, in case the customer later decides to dispute the charge.
âWhen a guest makes a tip of this size, it is our procedure to refund the tip amount and ask the guest to make the tip in either cash or a check,â the chain said in a statement to Fox News.
In other words, Brown, who had no way of contacting the customer, was out of luck.
âA lot of servers wait for that day when you get a tip like that, and when I didnât get it, it was very humiliating and heartbreaking,â she said.
Fortunately, local media picked up the story, and a reporter from The Charlotte Observer tracked down her benefactor, a local business owner, whom she met last week so he could write her a personal check.
Brown says sheâs undecided about what to do with the money, whether sheâll put it toward her schooling or fix the transmission on her car.
As for why she got such a big tip, Brown thinks her benefactor, who owns several local restaurants and has asked to stay anonymous, appreciated the hard work that servers like her perform each day and how she treats her customers.
âI try to make them feel as comfortable as possible,â Brown said. âHe knows good service when he sees it.â