Courtney wipes her forehead with her arm and lets out a deep breath. Normally it didn’t bother her but today was just too much. Her third trimester had seen her growing huge and today it was taking its toll more than usual. Her back and feet ached more than usual as she approached the now empty table where the strange ‘cop’ had been sitting.
She started to collect the dishes from the table and looked over at the bill folder lying on the table. She picked it up and opened it. That’s when she saw what was inside and a terrible feeling hit the pit of her stomach.
Courtney Cadigan worked at the Lamp Post diner as a server. Outgoing, bubbly, and incredibly friendly, she worked hard and picked up any shifts that she possibly could. But Courtney wasn’t simply a very diligent worker, she also happened to be eight months pregnant.
Courtney continued to work deep into her pregnancy. This was because as a mother to be, she knew how important it would be to save as much money as she could to help her through what lay ahead. But Courtney had no idea what was in store for her.
Working at the diner for 7 years, Courtney knew all about her regulars. She could recite their order so effortlessly, and she was also very friendly with the police officers who came in to eat something before their shifts began.
However, one day an officer she didn’t recognize was sitting at her table. She served him as usual but when she saw the note he left her she was stunned. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before.
Courtney was starting to worry about whether or not she’d be able to make ends meet. Her due date, April 1st, was getting closer and closer. As if things weren’t bad enough, she and the father had ended the relationship on a bad note so she was going into this alone.
These thoughts plagued her and she was thinking about them when the unfamiliar police officer walked in and sat down in her section. She shook herself free from these thoughts, grabbed a menu, and went to serve the officer, but the mom-to-be had no idea what was coming.
Courtney was no stranger to serving the Voorhees Township Police Department officers when they came in before their shifts. This officer, however, was not someone she recognized and something felt strange.
She shrugged it off as nothing more than her imagination. She naturally treated him no differently than she would any other customer, but she had no idea that this encounter would be like no other.
As Courtney got out her notepad and pencil and made her way over to the ‘cop’, she noticed a breaking news segment flash on the television, hung idly on the wall.
Her eyes were glued to the television and her ears perked up as the presenter reported that a ‘dangerous’ man is on the loose. They never gave any more information, other than urging people not to approach him. A strange feeling hit the pit of Courtney’s stomach as she saw the mugshot of the dangerous man.
It had been a while since Courtney had heard anything from her ex, which worried her. Despite the way their relationship had ended, Courtney wanted him to be involved with their baby’s life as much as possible.
Courtney knew that he had treated her with far less respect than she deserved, though she tried not to think about it. She wasn’t mean spirited, however, and still wanted him to share in this. She smiled as she approached the table and asked the officer for his order.
For some strange reason, Courtney couldn’t define, the unknown officer made her feel very uncomfortable. As she caught a glimmer of his face, under his black hat, she thought she recognized the man. But she couldn’t put her finger on it.
The more she spoke to him she wondered if he was from the area at all. Perhaps he just didn’t dine out often? However, the officer sat there with a stoney expression, all while an uneasy feeling crept up Courtney’s spine.
Being friendly, Courtney tried to strike up a conversation by exchanging a few pleasantries and even engaging in some small talk. However, no matter what she did the man would simply nod. She watched as his large hands gripped tight onto the menu.
He ended up ordering nothing but a green salad and a glass of water. That was the most conversation she got from him. She felt oddly relieved to walk away from the table. However, she could feel his gaze on her as she went to the kitchen.
As Courtney came out of the kitchen, she was surprised to see that the diner had gotten a lot busier. In her section, a couple had taken a seat in the booth right behind the officer. She grabbed menus and hurried over and introduced herself.
Naturally, they immediately noticed the huge baby bump that she had and they saw how tired she looked. They raised their concerns for her wellbeing but Courtney merely shrugged it off and explained the situation. Little did she know something sinister was soon about to happen.
“I was telling the people at the table behind him that it was my first baby,” Courtney recalled later, “I was going out of work soon.” The couple congratulated her warmly before placing their orders, unaware that the ‘cop’ was listening intently to every word.
When Courtney brought his salad and turned to serve the other customers needing her attention, he watched her every move. Courtney had no idea what was coming.
The mysterious man wolfed down his salad and chugged his glass of water in record time. Then, he raised his hand and asked for the check. Courtney brought it over, and the total came to $9.00.
With the diner becoming busier and busier, Courtney was off again, hurrying to get the diners’ orders out on time. She didn’t notice that the cop had disappeared and his table was now empty. Where did he go?
Courtney saw the ‘cop’ had left and she went over to clear the table and pick up the bill. Opening up the leather folder, she saw that the man had left enough cash to cover his lunch. Then, she saw the note that almost brought her to her knees.
It was scrawled on the bill and was obviously directed at her. Was this some kind of joke? She felt sick to her stomach.
Courtney’s hands started to tremble as she gripped the note from the ‘cop.’ She read the note while hundreds of questions ran through her mind, like an Olympian going for gold. Who was this man? And why did he write this? Courtney stood frozen in her tracks.
With her pregnancy hormones raging and her stunned disbelief at the man, she couldn’t help herself. She ran straight to her manager in tears.
Trying to contain her tears but failing miserably, she burst into the back room. Her boss, who was halfway through eating her lunch, saw her employee distraught and thought something terrible had happened.
Courtney tried to explain but the words couldn’t come out. All she could think about was her baby. She had to get away from here. After a minute, Courtney finally caught her breath and explained everything.
You see on the bill, the note for Courtney read: “Enjoy ur 1st. You will never forget it.” Beside the note was nine dollars in change. Underneath it was a crisp $100 bill. The cop had obviously listened in on Courtney’s conversation with the other customers.
“It’s truly a blessing to come across people like him and I’m forever thankful for that,” she told the Gloucester Township Patch. But once she had recovered, she knew that she had to thank the officer in person. Running out to the parking lot in hopes that he was still there, her heart fell when he was nowhere in sight. How would she find him?
As soon as Courtney’s shift was over and she had arrived back home, she called the Voorhees Township Police Department to try to track the officer down. But not before sharing what had happened to her with her father, Brian.
He was so taken aback by the generous tip that he shared a photo of the note on Facebook. He never was expecting the kind of response it got.
Brian’s Facebook post went viral almost overnight, garnering an incredible 10,000 reactions, a thousand comments, and thousands of shares. People couldn’t get enough of Courtney’s story.
One commenter wrote: “What a wonderful thing to do, this story warms my heart. I’ve always respected police officers.” But did Courtney ever manage to thank the cop in person?
The generous mystery officer opted to stay anonymous after his good deed. Just knowing that he helped Courtney in her time of need was enough recognition for him. But Courtney and her dad still wanted to show their appreciation.
But how could they do that if they didn’t know the man’s identity?
In the end, they decided to say thank-you the only way they knew how. They arrived at the Voorhees Police Department bearing boxes of donuts for the entire team! “Thanks to Brian Cadigan & Courtney English for bringing in treats for our staff this morning,” the Voorhees Police wrote on their Twitter account.
They also promised to make sure that the anonymous officer was told personally that Courtney and Brian were eternally grateful.