How One Waiter Saved My Birthday


For my 24th birthday on Friday, January 27, I made plans to celebrate with my family in New York City that weekend. Booked on the last Air Canada flight out of Toronto Pearson International to New York’s LaGuardia Airport in Queens, I planned to go to the airport straight from work.  After a 40-minute drive across the city, I parked my car and arrived at the airport.  Mind you, I had not eaten since noon and it was quickly approaching suppertime.  Fortunately, I was wise enough to check-in ahead of time online and had my boarding pass on my phone and since I did not have any checked luggage to drop off, upon entering the terminal, I went directly to the security line.  The queue at security was probably the shortest that I had ever seen it before, and going through U.S. Customs was a breeze.

With more than an hour to spare before boarding time was to commence, I headed to my favourite restaurant in the terminal, The Hearth by Lynn Crawford. As I was seated and looked over the menu, my nagging headache was starting to develop into something else.  I had been up late packing what I would need for the weekend and did not get to sleep until about two o’clock. that same morning and then I was awake at five o’clock to start making lunch and getting ready to go to work.  I decided I had better order some ginger ale to help settle my now upset stomach.  My waiter took my order and left for a while to get it filled.  He returned with my soda to find me visibly uncomfortable.  He came back with a glass of water as well.  By the time that my food had arrived, I felt like throwing up, however, it was not the food that was making me feel unwell.

I tried to eat my meal when it came.  I took a small bite and could barely chew it or shallow.  I continued to attempt to eat and my server kept returning to check on me.  I had completely lost my appetite and my head was throbbing.  After about 20 minutes since the plate of food had arrived and only about 20 minutes before  I was scheduled to board my flight, I called him over, and apologized sincerely, saying,

“I hate to waste food, I just feel so sick, I have no appetite, I’m so sorry. Could I just have the bill please? It’s not the meal, I’ve had it the last two times I flew out of the airport, but I’m just not feeling good.”

He looked sympathetic and took the plate away.

A few minutes later, he returned with the bill for just the two sodas totalling about $3.50.  I could not believe it.  What a kind gesture.  I was nearly in tears.  I sincerely thanked him as he left me with the debit machine to pay.  I put my debit card in and when the screen asked me if I would like to add a tip, I punched in: 2 0 . 0 0 that is right, $20.00 which was about the cost of the food I thought I was going to have to pay for.  He returned to get the debit machine and the receipt, when I had finished and he saw the total – $23.50 and realized what I had done.  He smiled and went on to express his gratitude to me and wish me well on my flight and that he hoped I would feel better.


Why did I do it?

Well –

  1. I was going to have to pay about that amount if I had eaten my dinner as I had intended.
  2. He did not have to remove the cost of the meal and just charge me for the drinks. I was not expecting that kind of generosity from him.
  3. When someone is kind to you, you should pay it forward, and this seemed like the best way to do it.


Unfortunately, I lost my receipt in New York but I had every intention to call the restaurant management to thank them and give credit to my server, whose name was on the receipt.  I am hoping that enough people will see this post and it will get back to them and he will come forward so that he can understand just how much it meant to me.

Do you have a heartwarming travel experience?

Were you on the receiving or giving end of a generous act of kindness? Let me know in the comments.


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