Noticing Something Out Of The Ordinary
Laura Wolf was a regular patron of her local Waffle House in La Marque, Texas. She had spent many of her breakfasts sitting in the familiar Waffle House booths, getting to know the serving staff over a coffee. And most days, there was nothing particularly noteworthy that happened at the restaurant.
But the morning of March 3, 2018 was different than usual. As Laura ate her regular breakfast, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. What she saw caused her to quickly put down her eating utensils and take her phone out of her purse. Then, she snapped a few pictures. The woman on the other end of the pictures had no idea that she was being secretly recorded in the act.
A Particularly Busy Day
Before Laura secretly recorded the Waffle House waitress, she already noticed that something was a little bit different about that morning. The Waffle House had always been a popular breakfast destination in the small city of just over 16,000. But this morning was a madhouse. It seemed that almost everyone in town was at the breakfast joint.
The restaurant was quickly filling up with patrons, all trying to get in and out for a quick breakfast. It seemed that every single server in the Waffle House was running around, trying to keep up with the morning rush. But that particular day was not just remarkable because it was busy.
The Waffle House Waitress
One of the waitresses whom Laura witnessed running around was one who she recognized from her other visits to the Waffle House. Her name was Evoni Williams, known by her friends and coworkers as “Nini.” She had been a waitress at the restaurant for a few years now, and everyone at the Waffle House knew her as a hard worker.
There was a good reason why she was working so hard. The 18-year-old waitress was saving every penny she made with the hopes of using the extra cash to get into a local college. She had big dreams, but only a small amount saved up so far. Soon, though, all of that money that Evoni had saved up would not really matter.
Taking Orders As Laura Took Note
Evoni came to work that day expecting to bring home a few tips, but when she saw the amount of people lining up to be seated at the Waffle House, she was optimistic that it would be a good day for making money. She quickly got to work, running from booth to booth taking orders.
While she was making a good amount of tips, Evoni had to admit she was a little bit overwhelmed. The Waffle House was a bit understaffed that day, and every server was trying to make up for it. It seemed that from the moment Evoni started working, she was non-stop moving. Then, as she was delivering plates of breakfast to hungry customers, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye.
A Customer Draws Evoni’s Attention
When Evoni noticed one specific customer in her peripheral vision, it didn’t initially strike her as unusual. She had seen him around the Waffle House a few times, at least once a week, so he was definitely a regular. She knew that his name was Adrien, but most people knew the 78-year-old by his colorful nickname, Mr. Karaoke.
Adrien entered the Waffle House that day around 10:00 a.m., about the time he usually came there to have breakfast. While the elderly man was always in high spirits, it was also common knowledge that he had been dealing with some health issues and carried an oxygen tank. And while everything seemed ordinary, Evoni was about to do something extraordinary.
An Exchange that Changed Everything
As Adrien entered the Waffle House, Evoni carried on her nonstop, busy day of work. She was balancing plates, running from table to table, taking orders and trying to stay on top of the breakfast rush. Just as she was feeling like she was getting a handle on everything, Adrien tried to get her attention.
Once Evoni noticed that Adrien had been trying to flag her down, she stopped behind the bar stools, where he was sitting. Adrien then began whispering something to Evoni so that no one else around them could hear exactly what he was saying. Then, as Evoni did not know she was being secretly recorded, she did something she never knew would be caught on camera.
Catching It All On Camera
Sitting directly across from Adrien and Evoni, in a booth, Laura could not hear what was being said in the hushed exchange, but she had an instinct. The restaurant patron tried to lean closer to hear a bit of what the two were saying to each other.
Laura watched as the man with the oxygen tank looked a little embarrassed as he spoke to the Waffle House waitress. In that moment, Laura knew she was watching something interesting unfold. In that moment, she shuffled through her bag, took out her phone, pointed it at the two of them, and pressed record.
Watching What Unfolds
Meanwhile, as Laura secretly recorded Evoni, the Waffle House waitress was trying to understand exactly what Adrien was saying. On this particularly busy morning, the sounds of Waffle House patrons, clanging utensils and a bustling kitchen were drowning out Adrien’s soft whisper.
As Evoni tried to listen and lean in closer, it was not like her job had stopped. Just behind her from the kitchen, one of the line cooks began yelling her name and trying to get her attention. But Evoni reacted as if he was not there, and was intent on listening to the Waffle House regular, Adrien.
A Plate Pass-Off
At first Evoni assumed that Adrien might have just been one of those customers who was unhappy with his food and wanted to send it back to the kitchen. Evoni listened to the man demanding her attention and nodded with a smile as he whispered. After that, Adrien passed Evoni his breakfast plate.
Evoni took Adrien’s plate of eggs, home fries, toast and ham, and slid it closer in her direction. But instead of taking the plate back into the kitchen to correct whatever had gone wrong or giving the man a new menu to pick another dish, Evoni kept the plate in front of him. She soon passed the plate right back to Adrien as he looked on.
An Unexpected Onlooker
During this minute or so of time, Evoni was focused solely on Adrien at the bar. It was as if everyone else in the jam packed Waffle House that busy morning had disappeared. But that definitely was not the case.
There were still patrons waiting for their orders, there were still hot meals waiting to be served, and there was still one customer looking on and watching Evoni’s entire exchange with Adrien. Laura was still across the restaurant, having secretly recorded the entire exchange between Evoni and Adrien. But that was not the only recording of Evoni conducted that day.
Caught On Candid Camera
While Laura was watched the exchange happen in real time as she secretly recorded it, there was another video of Evoni’s behavior that day. The Waffle House’s security camera caught Evoni walking by Adrien, leaning in to hear what he had to say, ignoring the cooks behind her, and taking Adrien’s plate.
The CCTV video also caught Evoni leaning from behind the bar counter as if nothing had happened. Fortunately for the Waffle House’s management, the video camera suspended from the ceiling gave them a bird’s eye view of exactly what happened that day. And soon, thousands of people on the Internet would also get to see exactly what had transpired between Evoni and Adrien.
Sharing The Scene Online
Once Evoni returned Adrien’s plate across the bar and began to continue her day of serving customers, Laura was left speechless. She now had secretly recorded the event and a few photographs on her phone of what she had just witnessed, and she had no idea what to do with the evidence.
After witnessing what she had just seen, Laura knew that she needed to share the photos with someone. There were so many people that she wanted to send them to that she could not choose. Ultimately, she decided to share a post about it online. Laura wrote out a Facebook post and decided to press send. She had no idea what she had done, and how much it would affect Evoni’s life.
What Adrien Said To Evoni
The entire event that unfolded before Laura’s eyes started with a question from Adrien. Amid the hustle and bustle of the early morning rush, Adrien was feeling a little self conscious. He was having health problems that started with a bout of pneumonia, and found himself unable to do some of his usual day-to-day activities.
“I can hold a fork fine and dandy,” Adrien told ABC News. “But to cut it looks like I’m going to stab somebody,” he said, laughing. He needed to cut his ham, so he decided to get a waitress’s attention for a little help cutting his food. That is when he found Evoni and catalyzed the life-changing interaction.
Making The Cut
Evoni would later describe what happened at the Waffle House that day to news cameras. “He was like, ‘My hands are not functioning too well,'” Evoni explained. At that time, she leaned in and tried to make out exactly what Adrien was saying.
“He needed me to cut his food for him, so I did,” she told ABC News. Evoni took his plate, cut Adrien’s ham into small, bite sized pieces and passed it back to him. She then went about her day as if nothing had happened, because to her, this act was just another part of the job. Little did she know that Laura had secretly recorded the exchange, and that it was already causing a stir online.
What Laura Wrote In Her Post
Laura decided her best bet to get the word out about what she had witnessed at the Waffle House was to post it on Facebook. Laura wrote, “I don’t know her name but I heard this elderly man tell her his hands don’t work too good.”
She continued, “He was also on oxygen and struggling to breathe. Without hesitation, she took his plate and began cutting up his ham. This may seem small but to him, I’m sure it was huge. I’m thankful to have seen this act of kindness and caring at the start of my day while everything in this world seems so negative.” It didn’t take long, though, before her post garnered an outpouring of reactions.
Laura’s Post Goes Viral
As soon as Laura put her phone down, it began to light up. Throughout her breakfast, notifications on her phone would not stop coming. The feedback was nonstop. Some people commented on the post praising Evoni, while others shared it to their own pages and spread the word about this remarkable waitress.
Laura decided to end her Facebook post with a message. “If we could all be like this waitress and take time to offer a lending hand…” She had no idea that she had just unknowingly lent a hand to Evoni, and it would soon lead to developments she’d never expected for her seemingly simple act of kindness.
The Talk Of The Town
Just a few short days after Laura had shared the photograph of what she had witnessed at the Waffle House, the post had gone viral. It had quickly amassed more than 90,000 likes and 47,000 shares from thousands of people praising Evoni and using her act of kindness as a heartwarming moment for their followers.
“Somebody told me two days later that I was very popular because they saw me on Facebook,” Adrien told a local ABC News affiliate. “They got a fancy picture of my suspenders in the back,” he said, laughing. It seemed that everyone across town, and even across the nation, had seen the now-viral photo. That’s when a highly influential person in town got wind of the story and decided to do something about this special moment.
A Visit From The Mayor
The city of La Marque, Texas, had just about 16,000 residents, but it seemed everyone was only talking about one: Evoni. Word about her act of kindness being secretly recorded made it all the way to the mayor’s office. And as soon as Mayor Bobby Hocking heard about the viral Facebook post based right in his town, he knew he had to meet this special resident.
Evoni had known that the mayor was going to show up, and there were tons of cameras at the Waffle House that day to record the event. But the mayor was not just going to the restaurant to see Evoni. He had much more planned in order to honor the Waffle House waitress.
Evoni’s Big Day
With camera crews filling up the booths at the Waffle House and reporters swarming the restaurant, this time Evoni knew she was being recorded and that her face would be all over the news. Everyone was there to see mayor honor Evoni for her act of kindness. No one knew there was much more that would happen that day.
As the mayor stood behind the bar at the Waffle House, just where Evoni stood as she had cut Adrien’s ham, he announced that he had a special presentation to make. The mayor then announced that March 8th would be known in the town as “Evoni ‘Nini’ Williams Day.” Evoni had her own day, but the next gesture would leave her in tears.
Paying It Forward
Evoni’s story of her kind act toward Adrien was making rounds on the Internet. But soon, another story about Evoni and her job as a waitress would also start to circulate. As more people started to learn about Evoni, they also began to learn about what landed her at the Waffle House in the first place.
Word got out that Evoni was saving all of the money she was earning in order to enroll in college. So, some La Marque residents decided to start a GoFundMe account online in hopes of helping Evoni raise money for her tuition. They had a goal of reaching $16,000. As it turned out, tons of people read about the college fund, including one very important person.
College Funding Within Reach
The GoFundMe account set up to help Evoni realize her dreams of going to college was starting to build traction. More and more people from Evoni’s Texas town and across the country were pitching in to help this selfless Waffle House waitress gain the funds to put herself through college.
Word of the fundraising effort traveled about 30 miles away in Houston, Texas. Staff and administrators at nearby Texas Southern University, just a 35 minute drive from the Waffle House, heard about the GoFundMe and wanted to help. “We wanted to reward Evoni’s act of kindness,” an administrator at the university said in an interview. So the college decided to do just that.
A Very Special Guest
Masses of people had filled the Waffle House on March 8th as the mayor of La Marque presented Evoni with her very own day in her honor. Both Adrien and Laura were in the crowd looking on as Evoni rejoiced over having a day named after her. But there was also someone else in the audience that day.
Looking on was the president of Texas State University. The president wanted to meet Evoni in person and “let her know that good deeds do not go unnoticed,” he later explained in a television interview. Finally, he got the chance to meet Evoni in person, and by the end of that meeting with Evoni, there would not be a dry eye in the room.
The Gift of Giving
Right after the mayor awarded Evoni her own day, the president of Texas State University took his place behind the Waffle House bar to make another announcement. There, in front of Evoni’s family, friends, the mayor, and the two people who helped launch her to social media stardom, he awarded her with something huge.
It was in that moment that Texas State University announced that it would be awarding Evoni with a $16,000 scholarship for their school. He even brought one of those signature gigantic checks to hand off to Evoni. Immediately, Evoni along with her mother and just about everyone else in the room started to cry. But how did Laura, who had spurred the viral post about Evoni, feel about the events that transpired?
The People Who Changed It All
As Evoni received her scholarship, both Laura and Adrien looked on teary eyed. Laura could have never guessed that just a few days prior, when she posted the video, that a simple social media post would change someone else’s life like it had.
“It was so busy in here, you know? And she actually took the time to stop and hear what he had to say instead of walking passed him. It just meant something to me,” Laura said in an interview with local reporters. Adrien agreed, “it means a lot,” he said. But despite all of the honors and rewards, Evoni did not feel the same way about her act of kindness.
Kindness Served Over Easy
Even after all of the social media attention, the praise, the day in her honor and the college scholarship, Evoni still said she didn’t think of herself as a particularly special person. In her eyes, she was just doing something that anyone would do for someone in need.
“I don’t know, it was something I would do any other day,” Evoni told local news reporters. But for Laura and Adrien who witnessed the event and for everyone on the Internet, Evoni represented the beauty in stopping during busy, chaotic moments and taking the time to help a stranger out.
Sources: CBS News, USA Today, KWCH
This article was originally published on Icepop: Waffle House Waitress Didn’t Know She Was Recorded With This Customer