They gave “paying it forward” a whole new meaning

Bad service, we’ve all been there. Luke warm food? Hangry stomachs growling? And then being strapped with an expensive bill at the end of it all? Nothing kills the mood of a beautiful evening out faster than slow wait service.

Which is exactly what happened to this one couple, who decided to celebrate their anniversary, for what they thought was going to be an easy evening out. How wrong they were. This was one time it would have been wiser to cook at home!

Why One Couple Was Annoyed at a Restaurant

crowded restaurant

When Makenzie Schultz and her husband, Steven, sat down to a sushi dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for their sixth anniversary, they were hoping to have a special night out for such a special occasion. Little did they know how disappointed they would be.

The couple were shocked when they looked at the clock and realized it took a staggering 20 minutes to even get a glass of water. Needless to say, the evening was off to a shaky start. Yet, the lovebirds tried to keep a positive outlook in order to enjoy their evening. Unfortunately, things only got worse from there.

According to Makenzie, it took the waiter 40 minutes to bring a single appetizer and another hour for their entree to arrive. For those who aren’t sure, as a general rule of thumb, appetizers should take no longer than 15 minutes before they reach the table — and for sushi of all cuisines? It’s a California roll, not a Thanksgiving turkey! It’s not rocket science people.

As it turns out, Makenzie and Steven weren’t the only ones on the receiving end of the horrendous service. Looking around the dining room it was clear the entire restaurant were up in arms about the slow service. So, they decided to show this one waiter the meaning of “what goes around, comes around.”

When the Bill Came Around, They Knew Exactly What to Do

When the server left the bill at the table, the frustrated couple left a shocking tip. They decided to leave a $100 tip on their $66 check for a 150 percent tip!

The couple could empathize with the server who was polite even while “dealing with 12 tables on a short-staffed night,” because they’d once been in his shoes.

In a now-viral Facebook post, Makenzie shared that both she and her husband used to be servers, so they know how challenging and thankless the job can be. Their past experience prompted the couple to “make this guy’s night” by leaving a generous tip. They posted their experience on Facebook not to humble brag about their act of kindness, but “as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation, before you judge.”

The couple left the restaurant before the server could even thank them for their generosity, but not before leaving the overworked server with some words of encouragement.

To make matters even sweeter, the couple left a heartwarming handwritten message at the bottom of their bill, reminding him he isn’t alone. Their note read, “We’ve both been in your shoes. Paying it forward.”

Read Makenzie’s Story Below:

“So here’s the deal. Our service tonight sucked. Took 20 minutes to get water, 40 minutes for an appetizer and over an hour for our entree. People all around us were making fun of the restaurant & how bad the service was. Yeah, it was pretty terrible. But, it was very obvious that the issue was being short staffed, not the server.

He was running around like crazy and never acted annoyed with any table. At one point we counted he had 12 tables plus the bar. More than any one person could handle! As I sat there and watched him run back & forth and apologize for the wait, I said to Steven… Wow, this used to be us. Waiting tables. I don’t miss it at all and I never loved that job. I did it for the tips.

Steven and I agreed it would feel good to make this guys night when he would probably be getting minimal to no tips due to slow service. We walked out before he saw this and I’m not posting this for a pat on the back. I’m just sharing this as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation before you judge. And always always always remember where you came from.”

Makenzie Schultz, Facebook

Rather than posting an angry review online or blasting the restaurant on Facebook, Schultz and her husband decided to take a negative situation and make it positive, recognizing that “he probably isn’t going to get tips,” which is how servers make ends meet. “This definitely was not the largest tip there ever was,” Schultz said. “We thought it could make his night a little bit easier.”

“No matter how much you apologize to tables, there are going to be people rolling their eyes.”


Days after its initial publication, Makenzie’s post gained 1.2 million likes and has since garnered over 257,000 shares and received more than 11,000 comments. Incredibly, even after all these years, those numbers keep growing, all thanks to the enduring inspiration that the couple’s kind act touching the hearts of people far and wide.

“Think Before You Judge” Is Easier Said Than Done, but That Doesn’t Mean We Shouldn’t Try

Thinking before judging is easier said than done, which is why we all sometimes need a friendly reminder.

In a world where snap judgments are all too common, the couple’s story reminds us of the crucial need to think before we judge. It’s easy to rush to conclusions, but hasty decisions can lead to misunderstandings, bias, and missed opportunities for kindness.

Their thoughtful act, despite the slow service, shows that empathy and understanding should always come before judgment. We never truly know the battles others may be fighting or the challenges they face, and by taking a moment to see things from their perspective, we can create a more compassionate and connected world.

So, the Schultz’s example encourages us all to take a step back, reflect, and offer the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, making our interactions with others more positive and meaningful.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia, American Author