She’d been waiting tables for the last eight hours and was glad that the day was finally coming to a close. She took off her apron and threw her jacket on, biding her coworkers goodnight.
But as she ran through the day’s payments and tips, she noticed something that made her lips part.
Kenzie Michaels was a twenty-two-year-old medicine student living in Louisiana. The firstborn in a family of six, Kenzie had moved across the country to study at her dream school.
Among the things that Kenzie loved about herself was her ability to be self-sufficient. She’d already achieved incredible feats in her life, bringing in accolade after accolade. But this mindset would soon threaten to turn her life upside down.
Like any brilliant kid her age, Kenzie powered through her education to earn a position at a prestigious school in Lousiana.
Her family came out to celebrate with her, but though her parents were proud and supportive of this incredible achievement, they told her something that broke her heart.
Kenzie’s party was still underway when her parents informed her that it would be impossible for her to move to Louisiana for school.
They informed her of their financial situation, telling her supporting such a move would be expensive for them, especially with the last of her siblings starting high school. But Kenzie had an idea that she knew would help solve their problems.
“What if I looked for a job there?” Kenzie asked. She’d already had several jobs as a teenager and knew her parents wouldn’t oppose the idea. Still, she spent the night persuading them.
By the time her party was over, Kenzie had convinced her parents that she’d be alright more than four states away from them. She had no idea how much her life was about to change.
The first six months of Kenzie’s stay in Louisiana weren’t the best. Although she’d been great at time management and organization, she found it challenging to balance school and work.
Her first job had been as a personal assistant to one of her lecturers who was pursuing her Ph.D. The job was too demanding, so Kenzie opted out. The second and third jobs were no different. Dejected and looking to throw in the towel, Kenzie found an opening that would change her life.
The position was for a server in one of the local diners off-campus. The hours perfectly synergized with Kenzie’s classes, allowing her to work when she wasn’t attending classes.
Kenzie was working her second month in the diner when it happened. The day had been a long one. She must’ve served more than four tables at a given time. Unknown to her, something had occurred during her shift that would set her mind ablaze.
As nighttime crept closer, Kenzie turned in her apron. As part of her routine, she checked how she’d done for the day and the amount she’d made in tips.
Usually, her tips would be a little over ninety dollars, but tonight, it was different. The amount that stared back at Kenzie was more than ninety dollars. She refreshed the computer thinking it’d made an error, but what she saw made her step back.
The screen before Kenzie read four thousand dollars, an amount that would help her clear her tuition fee as she’d wanted to help her parents with her tuition for a long time.
She’d dreamt of a day where she could take care of her financial needs without involving them. But Kenzie didn’t know her manager had other plans with the money.
As was protocol whenever she dealt with the diner’s cash, Kenzie called in her boss and explained what was going on. A look of shock took Kenzie’s boss as she gawked at the screen.
“Four thousand dollars,” she said with a heavy breath. Kenzie’s boss stared for a while before visibly collecting herself. What she shared would make Kenzie take a step back.
“We need to find whoever left this tip,” Kenzie’s boss said. “If the payment was intentional, then, by all means, you’ll get the cash. If it’s not, we’ll have to return the money.”
All the excitement Kenzie had felt earlier was quickly replaced by disappointment. She’d served many customers through the day and knew pinpointing who’d left the tip would be impossible. But then she had an idea.
Kenzie asked her boss if she could look at each customer who’d paid through a card. Four thousand dollars was a massive number that would stick out like a sore thumb.
It wasn’t long till they found the person who’d sent the money. Her boss called him immediately, but the news she received only complicated matters.
The person who’d tipped Kenzie four thousand dollars was an older man. He shared that he’d meant to tip four dollars.
He didn’t understand how he’d tipped three thousand nine hundred and ninety-six more but was glad the diner had called him about the matter. As one would expect, Kenzie went home without the four thousand dollars that night. But the situation wasn’t over.
An hour after Kenzie settled in for the night, her boss called her with more information about the tip. Kenzie was tired, catching up on her studies before classes in the morning.
“The man was impressed by us calling that he’s coming tomorrow to see you,” said Kenzie’s boss. “I know you have classes, but would you mind swinging by at noon?”
“Of course,” Kenzie said. As instructed, she showed up the next day, finding her boss having lunch with a grey-haired man wearing a tailored three-piece suit. They smiled at Kenzie and invited her over.
Kenzie’s boss introduced the man and explained that he was gifting her half the amount as a thank you for her transparency after the incident. “I know two thousand isn’t as much as four, but I hope it shows how thankful I am,” he said.