Christmas is a season of giving. And for a group of friends who dined in at Cracker Barrel, they came to do just that for a long-time server at the restaurant.
Janet Ballard has been with the Dublin, Georgia, location of the chain for more than a decade. She was enjoying a normal day at work until she was assigned a table for 12 people during lunchtime. Little did she know that by the time they finished their meals, her typical workday would turn into an extraordinary day that she would never forget.
Once they were done eating, the group of diners decided to pitch in a $100 each for Janet’s tip.
“I connected with them immediately,” Janet, 53, told TODAY Food. “I’m a people person. I start with greeting them and finding out what needs they have, if they have allergies or whether they’re vegan. Everything that they can possibly need or want I try to hone in on those things when I’m taking that individual order.”
Janet undoubtedly showed them superb customer service. But that wasn’t the only thing that inspired James Deal and his friends to gift Janet with a tip of $1,200. The group, who are Christian churchgoers, felt that it was the right thing to do, especially now that Christmas is approaching.
James took to Facebook to share their good deed.
“What a wonderful day with friends as we celebrate our 1st Annual 100 dollar breakfast. We all gave our waitress Janet a $1200.00 tip. May God have the Glory for all that is done in his name. Merry Christmas Janet!!!!” he wrote.
According to Janet, the group waited to finish their meals and then handed her a Christmas card. She was shocked to find that it was full of cash!
“I read the card and it had scriptures on it, which let me know they were good people … They were very genuine individuals. They were total strangers,” she described them.
“Counting the money, I got so choked up by the time I got to $400. They wanted me to count out loud. By the time I got to $400 I was like ‘oh my goodness this is really happening,'” Janet said. “I got so emotional and I don’t really like to cry with a camera in my face, but I didn’t even care at this point. I had 12 total strangers saying, ‘Hey, we care enough about you because of how you made us feel while we were dining and we want to be a blessing to you and your family.'”
The mom of two said that her prayers were answered, as she needed money to help pay for her taxes. The generous tip also enabled the server to make her car payment early, thereby improving her credit score.
But, of course, Janet could never forget to also do good to others by paying it forward.
She went to a seafood lunch after work, making sure that she also blesses her server with a large tip. Then, she treated herself to a pedicure where she tipped the manicurist generously even before their session began.
“Because of the gift of love and caring and sharing I’m able to not only be a better Janet, but I am able to be an example for people this time of year who don’t have hope,” she said.
What a beautiful story of giving! May this serve as an inspiration for us to be generous not just during the holidays, but also all throughout the year.