It was a typical Friday afternoon at Lamp Post Diner for Courtney - greeting customers, waiting on tables, the usual. But one diner would soon change her life and teach her the true meaning of kindness...
Our story starts with Courtney English, a 23-year-old woman living in New Jersey. In some ways, Courtney was a lot like our average 20-something-year-old in the sense that she had a regular job to help pay the bills.
Courtney was a waitress working at her local diner in Clementon, NJ. Her job at the Lamp Post wasn't the most glamorous of jobs, but as English made it clear with her approach to work, she wasn't afraid to get her hands a little dirty and earn her paycheck.
A Hard Worker
But that's how English was by nature. At just 23 years of age, she had the maturity and work ethic of someone twice her age. Not only was she waitressing at the Clementon diner, but she also had odd jobs on top of that. It was safe to say that she kept herself busy.
Despite the packed work schedule, the toll of working never took away from Courtney's friendly disposition. At the Lamp Post Diner, customers were always blown away by her kind smile and warm approach to serving the patrons of the restaurant. Especially considering one important detail...
Baby on the Way
Remember when we mentioned that in a number of ways, Courtney was just a typical 23-year-old? Well, there was something that made her stand apart from the average young women in her hometown. And that was the fact that she was pregnant with her first child.
But unlike other expecting mothers who spent much time resting with their feet up, Courtney was as busy as ever working as a waitress at Lamp Post. Morning, afternoon, and evening shifts were a weekly reality for this soon-to-be mom, who was trying her best to save as much money as possible.
Enjoying the Routine
But as far as jobs came, English's gig at her local diner was pretty suitable for her. Despite the long hours, she had incredibly friendly customers, who were mostly regulars that frequented the diner a couple of times a week. So, while she may have been on her feet a bit more than she wanted, at least the diners were nice.
And that was especially important, considering the fact that maintaining low stress is one of the biggest goals during pregnancy. Overall, it was the perfect job for chatty Courtney, except when it came to one thing, and one thing in particular: the paycheck.
Waitressing wasn't exactly bringing in the big bucks that Courtney so desperately needed in the lead-up to the birth of her first baby. From prenatal vitamins to nursery furniture, there was a never-ending list that came with a pretty hefty price tag.
But rather than moan about it, Courtney got on with her regular shifts and got by, bit by bit. Luckily, she had the support of some kind-hearted coworkers as well. And thank goodness for the love, because on top of everything, English was mending a broken heart.
A Failed Relationship
As if the rollercoaster of pregnancy emotions weren't enough for young Courtney, she was also healing her wounds from a failed relationship. It's a feeling far too familiar to many: thinking they've found the one only to be proven wrong. And unfortunately, English was really going through it.
After a long day at the diner, it's understandable that Courtney would've wanted nothing more than to come home to a loving partner, but it just wasn't in the cards during this time. And while she tried her best to focus on her pregnancy, her ex was tied into that as well, as he was the father of the baby.
Meeting the Baby's Father
Courtney had met the father of her baby at one of the many odd jobs she held on top of waitressing. It was safe to say that they immediately hit it off, and English found herself head over heels. In what felt like no time at all, they decided to take their relationship to the next level.
Warnings from Courtney's loved ones, like her father, fell on deaf ears. And English decided to move in with her new boyfriend. However, the honeymoon period came and went quickly, and the young waitress started to notice cracks in the foundation of her relationship...
The Relationship Unraveled
It was only after a couple of months of living together that Courtney started to sense that the relationship was going south. From dishonest business practices to being unfaithful in the relationship, English's boyfriend didn't turn out to be who she'd hoped for.
Whether it was her deep level of love or her desire to prove her father wrong, Courtney tried to forgive and forget for the sake of the relationship. But the worrisome and hurtful behavior just continued and continued - English just couldn't ignore it any longer.
A Fresh Start
Just as Courtney came to the acceptance that this relationship wasn't headed in the right direction, those two pink lines came back on the pregnancy test, and she realized she was pregnant. With another life added to the mix, suddenly everything looked different.
Could this have been what she and her boyfriend needed to get a fresh start and focus on staying together for the sake of the baby? As much as Courtney would've liked that to have been the case, it simply wasn't. The pregnancy rather showed her boyfriend's true colors.
Better Off Alone
Courtney believed that she was sharing exciting news by telling her boyfriend about the pregnancy, but he took it the absolute opposite way. Instead, he saw it as something that would ruin and sabotage his big life plans. English couldn't believe what she was hearing.
While devastating to hear, it was the big wake-up call that she needed. She now knew that this wasn't what she wanted in a boyfriend and certainly not what she wanted as a father for her baby. So she turned to a solid male figure in her life: Her father. It was time to move back home.
Finding Her Groove
So that was that. Courtney was absolutely done with her now-ex boyfriend and refocused all her energy into what was really important now: providing a great life for her unborn baby. And it was no small feat, but English was as determined as ever to do the right thing.
The soon-to-be mother made herself totally available to the diner in order to pick us as many shifts as possible, hoping to save some much-needed cash bit-by-bit. Everyone in the diner could see how committed she was, and it only made the customers love her more.
Support from the Bosses
But diners weren't the only ones rooting for Courtney, her bosses were as well! Everyone from her shift manager to her coworkers tried to do their bit to help English get through her shift as easily as possible. They knew how badly she needed to work, but that didn't mean she needed to suffer all shift long.
So, in order to help out, they all teamed together to make sure that Courtney wasn't doing any heavy lifting or activity too strenuous for her current condition. The last thing English wanted was to be unable to work in the lead-up to her maternity leave, which was scheduled for February.
Her Due Date
With her eyes on the prize, Courtney barely realized that the winter had flown by and her maternity leave was quickly approaching. Before she knew it, she was in her third trimester and about to say goodbye to Lamp Post Diner. For the meantime at least...
Her maternity leave was starting early in anticipation of her April 1st due date. No, that's not a joke! She really was scheduled to give birth on April Fools. And it was on one of her last shifts that something absolutely incredible happened to young Courtney.
Typical Friday Afternoon
As far as English was concerned, it was just a typical Friday afternoon. She had the same friendly regulars filtering into the restaurant during the lunchtime rush, but the seasoned waitress was already accustomed to the peak of any given shift. Hamburgers, gyros, fries, it was business as usual...
However, Courtney didn't exactly recognize every patron that came to dine at Lamp Post that afternoon. But hey, every regular had to have their first visit, right? Chatty and welcoming by nature, the presence of a new diner didn't faze English in the slightest.
New Day, New Customer
But her latest lone patron wasn't exactly any ol' Clementon, New Jersey resident. He was, in fact, a police officer with the Voorhees PD that had decided to stop by for lunch on the go during his Friday shift. He was one of the many workers that chose to spend their lunch break at the diner that day.
He strolled into the local diner in full uniform and grabbed a seat by himself. With so many regulars at the diner, it was odd to see someone sitting alone rather than meeting up with friends and neighbors - but that wasn't the only thing about him that caught Courtney's attention...
Not the Typical Customer
Whether a new face or a weekly (sometimes daily) patron of the diner, the Lamp Post waitress was accustomed to friendly and chatty diners - but this cop wasn't the case. Now, this wasn't to say he was rude by any means, he just wasn't as chatty as the other lunch eaters.
He sat quietly in his booth a barely uttered a word except when placing his order of a salad and a glass of water. Courtney jotted down the request and went about her shift, as usual, chatting with her more conversational table guests. Her shy patron didn't strike her as odd.
An Overheard Conversation
Courtney didn't have time to dwell on the not-so-chatty cop - rather, she had a number of other tables to check on and stopped by to chat with her talkative regulars. Having seen Courtney's pregnancy progress from the very start, they always like to check in on how she was doing.
And the questions were numerous considering how late she was working into her pregnancy. Courtney confessed it wasn't the most ideal situation, but she was determined to save up enough money to buy the essentials. Sure, relaxing on the sofa at home would be a welcomed alternative, but it wasn't an option for English.
Some time passed by, and before Courtney had realized, the silent police officer had finished up with his simple salad and glass of water. He was requesting the check in order to get back to his shift as an on-duty cop. English quickly got the check ready and brought it back to the table.
Now, this was no five-star Michelin restaurant when it came to prices. In fact, the regulars loved how affordable Lamp Post was. With it all said and done, the cop owed a measly $8.75 for his quick lunch. And he went up to the front cashier to settle his bill and get back to his busy day.
"I Started Crying"
It was at this moment that Courtney's day turned on its head. She was waved over by her coworker, who had incredible news to share. "One of the cashiers told me he left me $100, and I started crying," English recalled of the fateful tip when speaking with the New York Post back in February 2019.
With a bill of $8.75, the most generous of average tips (20% if a waitress is lucky) would come out to $1.75. But rather than stick with standard practices, the not-so-chatty police officer decided to go above and beyond and tip a whole extra $100 on his bill.
Chasing Him Down
While the mother-to-be was overcome with emotion, she was able to think clearly enough about one thing: She desperately wanted to say an in-person thank you to the generous Lamp Post diner that had made her shift the most memorable one yet. There was no way she'd let the deed go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, the third-trimester belly that Courtney was sporting didn't exactly allow for her to run as fast as she would have liked. So, she ran (or quickly waddled) out into the diner's parking lot in hopes of catching the cop before he left. But alas, he was nowhere to be seen.
Even More to the Gesture
Disappointed at not getting a chance to thank the kind stranger, Courtney headed back into the diner to carry on with her shift. It was at that moment that she had a chance to take a look at the receipt, where she saw that the cop had left a note along with the tip.
"Enjoy your first. You will never forget it," the receipt read. As if English wasn't touched enough by the generosity of the tip, the heartfelt message added another layer to the deed. Courtney couldn't even begin to believe what had happened to her that afternoon.
Connecting the Dots
Upon reading the note, it was clear that Courtney and the stranger had something in common - despite having been at the same diner, of course. The soon-to-be mother couldn't stop thinking about that one line: "You will never forget it." They were both parents! Well, Courtney was on her way, at least.
But how did he know it was her first? In an instant, English realized this was no random act of kindness, rather he had overheard her talking about her determination to work well into the third trimester as she chatted with other tables. While the cop may not have been chatty himself, he was certainly listening during his lunch.
The Big Revelation
It all made sense to Courtney. "He must have overheard my conversation with the other customers when I told them that it was my first baby and that I was going out of work soon," the thankful waitress explained when speaking with a journalist from the New York Post.
Like nearly all of the diners at Lamp Post, the anonymous cop was touched by Courtney's determination and maturity towards providing for her child. And it was that sentiment that led him to tip so generously on his $8.75 bill. And he was able to do so as a surprise by paying at the front - just like at Denny's.
The Stranger's Identity
And apparently, staying anonymous was of high priority to this kind samaritan. When people tried to reveal his identity by inquiring at the Voorhees Police Department, the fellow officers respected the wishes of their fellow serviceman and didn't give up the name. But that didn't stop people from sharing their thoughts.
"What a wonderful person to not only leave a VERY generous tip, but a lovely message," Courtney's father, Brian, gushed in a Facebook post he uploaded following the kind act. "I don't know you, Mr. Police Officer, but you made my little girl cry, and made her year."
The Post Went Viral
Brian wasn't done yet. "There's a lot of bad stuff said about police, and here's one officer who went out of his way to make a generous offer," the emotional dad continued to share. It didn't take long for the touching Facebook post to gain some traction online.
And just how Brian had thoughts of his own to share about this one-of-a-kind encounter that his daughter experienced, other users on Facebook had their own thoughts to share as well. Before he knew it, the post had gone viral in their New Jersey hometown.
Words of Praise
One of the key themes consistent in the comments was how special this story was and how it was great to see positive news about a police officer circulating. People couldn't believe that this ordinary cop went out of his way to do something so kind.
"Kudos to you officer, what a great way to treat a waitress I know they don't make much and count on tips, you are a rare breed sir," wrote Cathy Koepke. Mari F. D'Amico added, "what a nice policeman they help out so many people I'm sure we don't like getting a ticket however they're always on our side."
News Agencies Caught Wind
What started out as a simple Facebook post expressing his gratitude turned into something much bigger before Brian's eyes. Suddenly, the story was picked up by local and national news agencies who were equally touched by the unique circumstances of this act of kindness.
Different cable stations and newspapers reached out to both Courtney and Brian to hear the story in their respective words. After all, no detail was too small in this heart-warming story. The agencies also tried to get a statement from the kind cop, but he was committed to his anonymity.
A Kind Stranger
However, a general profile was pieced together by people who saw the quiet-mannered cop at the diner that fateful Friday afternoon. A report on NJ.com stated that the Lamp Post manager said he was a "regular customer who works for the Voorhees Township Police Department."
"If he's in the area, he stops in. Doesn't say much but a really nice guy," the diner manager recalled of the good samaritan. It seemed as though people had expected the nameless cop to come forward and bask in the love, but his continued anonymity taught the community a valuable lesson.
Viral Acts of Kindness
From TikTok to YouTube, it's easy to find dozens - if not hundreds - of clips of people committing acts of kindness and uploading them to social media. From feeding the homeless to donating to shelters, it's a common video theme on social media. But many have debated if it counts as a selfless act when it builds someone's clout.
Sure, it inspires others to take a moment to do a kind deed, but the 15 minutes of fame sure are an added bonus. But rather than step into the limelight, the cop chose to keep his identity hidden. He wasn't in it for the praise, he simply did a good thing because he was inspired to do so.
But whether she'd come to learn the identity of her kind customer or not, for Courtney, this meant so much more. The act of kindness set her on the right path for her and her baby and helped build up that financial cushion that she wanted before taking time off for maternity leave.
For the cop, $100 might not have been much, but for the waitress and single mom, it was a huge step in the right direction and helped give her some peace of mind as her due date approached. And it certainly inspired her to see the good in others and to treat others kindly whenever possible.