Let me tell you about David DeRouen.
In 2005, he suffered a serious injury at his job site on the coast of Mississippi. Unfortunately, this caused medical bills to pile up and with debt from the years before, providing for his children became extremely difficult. The thought of breaking free seemed another rainbow away. He fought hard and made it though. After battling through the storm together, David and his family started fresh and moved into their brand new home in Biloxi, Mississippi; 2800 square feet of coziness, new beginnings, and a chance for all of them. This was on a Friday.
Less than 48 hours later hurricane Katrina made her debut and David’s house was left under 15ft of water. He had been here before; carrying his family through a storm, so he did what any good man would do and packed his family up, headed to high ground and made their way north to Birmingham.
He found work at a restaurant as a server and worked hard. It was just another day of work at the Magic City when something special happened. His restaurant was packed and he was going about his usual routine of trying to provide good service. Good service usually resulted in better tips and he needed them. With bills beginning to pile up again, the pressures of life begin to weigh on his shoulders.
This day, lunch was a success for David and he was close to finishing his shift when a mother and her seven-year-old daughter came in and sat at one of the booths in his section. Brown hair and a bright smile, the little girl pulled out a box of beads and started to work on homemade bracelets. Beads and elastic bands spread out on the table, she worked while David served. At the end of their lunch, when the bill was left on the table, the little girl left her server a surprise. David picked up the bill and his new homemade bracelet. The beads strung on the bracelet made the word “believe”.
Not thinking another second more, David slipped his surprise on his wrist and moved onto his next table.
The next table to be seated in his section was a couple, and even though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the waiter assumed this might be a difficult one. The man was standing nearly 6’6’’, missing a tooth and had a very intimidating look while he was escorted by his petite and very loud wife.
From the beginning, the wife orders a soft drink, then complains that one is flat, then decides she wants something else and finally decides a Shirley temple is just what she’s craving. The appetizer wasn’t what they thought it was, so they decided to switch it. Now, if you’ve ever been in the hospitality industry, it’s no secret that serving others is a humbling experience. David immediately realized this was not going to be a walk in the park type of customer but made up in his mind that no matter what, he was determined to treat them great and go above and beyond for them just like any other customer.
As the night went on, the requests, complaints and loudness continued.
After ordering four entrees, another three to-go and two deserts, David believed that his tip on $128 bill wasn’t going to be so great. Not that he gave horrible service, but solely judging from the outside, these folks wouldn’t leave more than 15%, if that.
He placed the bill on the table.
Coming back around to pick it up, he asked the man if he needed change. “No sir, I don’t need any change”, the man replied.