Ryheem Lumpkins hopes to inspire teens everywhere.

They say hard work pays off, and in some cases, it does.

But more often than not, our hard work goes unnoticed — especially for those of us working in the customer service or hospitality industries.

So the fact that one customer went out of his way to appreciate and recognize a hardworking teen at a pizza joint has warmed hearts around the world.  

Just Doing His Job

man hugging a young man

A 16-year-old high school student named Ryheem Lumpkins had recently gotten a job at his local Pizza Ranch when a man noticed him hard at work.

The kid was pleasant to everyone who came through the door and handled the cash register like a champ. And when he wasn’t busy, he would pick up a broom and sweep the floors or make sure the buffet was clean and wiped down.

Aside from this kid’s outgoing nature and hard work, Robert Samay also noticed one other thing that was different about Ryheem: his hands and arms had never fully developed. It certainly wasn’t the only impressive thing about the employee, but Samay felt like he was a great example to kids everywhere. He decided to do something about it.

Samay approached Ryheem and handed him a five-dollar bill as a tip. The teen looked so genuinely happy to be recognized for his hard work that Samay hatched a plan.

A Surprise Return

A few days later, Samay returned to the pizza joint with a friend and some reporters from KCTV. They spotted the teen and approached. Nothing could have prepared Ryheem for what happened next.

“I appreciate your hard work, your good smile, your good attitude,” Samay told the teen in the video. “We don’t get that nowadays, especially with young kids.”

Samay’s friend then began counting out notes from a crisp stack of $50 bills. The stack totaled $2,500, and it was all for the teen who had made such a big impression with his dedication and friendliness.

“To be honest, I was speechless. I never had nothing in my life that had happened to me like that before,” Ryheem said. “That right there showed me that there’s more people in the world that really care for me.”

More than the money, the teen was impressed by the kindness of the gesture. He was also impressed that, although Samay had noticed his physical condition, it wasn’t part of why he wanted to tip the kid so handsomely.

“I don’t describe it as a condition. God made me like this for a reason. I’m a regular person. I don’t think of it as a disability,” Ryheem continued. “It don’t prevent me from nothing. If I feel like I can do it, I can do it.”

A Message for Fellow Teens

Samay was right in that Ryheem is a great example for others. He shared some sage advice with the news outlet for others who may have a physical disability.

“Don’t ever hide it,” he said. “Embrace what you have different from other people. Because a lot of people think it’s cool, and a lot of people wouldn’t think it’s cool. The negative words, don’t let it get to your head. Because there’s a lot of positive in the world. There’s more positive than negative.”

As for Samay, he says that money is just money. But finding someone who brings pure joy to people is uncommon and deserves to be recognized.

“Money comes and goes,” he explained. “It’s rare to find someone like Ryheem.”

The Importance of Recognizing Hard Work

Most people have to work to earn a paycheck in life, and that work can be hard and thankless.

That’s why it’s so important to tip or tell people they’re doing a good job: we all need to feel appreciated and seen.

That goes for home life as well, and parents who do unpaid jobs, children who look after their aging parents, or others who have people in their care that they can’t let down. Take time and write them a note, tell them how much they mean to you, or make sure they know what a good job they’re doing.

Not everyone has extra money they can randomly gift to a stranger. But small acts of kindness like these can also lead to big rewards and are always appreciated.

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