Strangers answered the call at this late-night establishment.

Working in the food industry can be a tough gig, especially these past few years following the pandemic, the rise of food delivery apps, and the general struggles that come with working in the customer service industry.

That’s why this story of customers coming to the rescue of one lone restaurant worker is so heartening.

A Hungry Crowd

man in blue shirt working
Ethan Crispo

Customers at a Waffle House in Birmingham, Alabama were getting pretty hungry one night when they entered the restaurant following a Saturday night out. It was now officially Sunday morning, and there was only one employee there to serve and feed the customers.

According to Ethan Crispo, he came into the establishment just after midnight. There, he noticed the employee tending to a crowd of about 30 people.

“I sat down at my table and I was like, ‘I’m not getting my waffle,’” Crispo recalled to The Washington Post. “The look on [the employee’s] face was maybe fear, maybe shock, maybe bewilderment. There was literally no one else working but him.”

Then, much to his surprise, Crispo witnessed one customer stand up, ask for an apron, and get to work.

“It was a transition so smooth I initially assumed it was a staff member returning to their shift,” Crispo continued. “It wasn’t. It was a kind stranger. A man who answered the call. Bused tables, did dishes, stacked plates.”

Inspiring Others

It didn’t take long for other customers to follow suit and jump up to help the poor employee out. Crispo recalled one woman in a dress and heels who figured out how to work the coffee maker.

“She tried to take an order or two, but then she went to busing tables. It was bizarre to see someone doing that in a sequinned dress and heels,” he said.

Soon people from all walks of life were serving, washing, cooking, and doing whatever it took to feed the crowd and keep things running smoothly. Eventually, everyone got their midnight snacks in a real act of teamwork and collaboration.

A Big Miscommunication

In his interview with the Washington Post, Crispo said the server told him that two other employees had been there that evening but left. According to Fox4 News, there was a miscommunication in scheduling workers that night, which resulted in a staff shortage.

Spokesperson Pat Warner told the outlet that security footage collaborated Crispo’s story, and he thanked those who helped out that night.

“We really appreciate their efforts… though we do prefer our associates to be behind the counter,” Warner said. “The key to our concept is, we’re there to serve you, not the other way around.”

As for Crispo, he did get his waffle that night. “It was surprisingly fantastic,” he told the Washington Post. “Ben did an incredible job,” he continued, adding the customers who helped that night did too. “Humanity isn’t good. It’s great.”

Lending a Helping Hand

While this situation was rare, and even the busiest of restaurants tend to be well-staffed during busy periods, this story hits home because it’s nice to see that there are people out there who are willing to assess a situation, use their best judgment, and pitch in to help without being asked.

It’s a nice reminder that we can do kind acts in our everyday lives too. It can be something big, like offering to watch an overwhelmed mother’s young kids or dropping off groceries. Or it can be small, like holding the door for an elderly person or helping them carry their bags to the car.

The point is to keep your eyes open in your community and relationships and look for ways to help, then step in when it may be needed. Sometimes a person may politely decline, and that’s okay. But other times, your helping hand may be just the thing that person needs to push through their day.