Imagine being a waiter in NYC on a busy Saturday afternoon. The place is packed, you’ve been on your feet for hours, and some of the customers are less-than-pleasant to you. Then, one patron who failed to leave you a tip forgets something extremely valuable — what would you do?
For medical student, Armando Markaj this was his reality not that long ago. After being left without a tip from a pair of customers, Armando noticed a forgotten envelope on the table. Inside, there was a cashier’s check for nearly $424,000!
While working at Patsy’s Pizzeria, Armando saw the envelope and admits he almost threw it away. For some reason, though, he saw the seemingly inconspicuous envelope and checked it to make sure it was actually trash.
When he saw the amount on the check, he was floored. Never in his nine years at the pizza joint had he come across anything quite like this. He wondered who in the world would walk around with that much money?! Surely, someone would miss it and he didn’t want to just leave that kind of item in the community lost and found. Wisely, he took the check to the pizza shop’s owner for safe keeping in hopes of tracking the customer down.
The patron was Karen Vinacour, a retired social worker and avid volunteer. The reason she had the check was so that she could use it for a down payment on a new condo. It was her life savings and losing it was devastating. Karen had been “couch-surfing” and relying on others to provide her a place to stay until she could close on a condo.
Upon realizing she lost the check, Karen searched everywhere and retraced her steps as much as she could. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find the check and was heartbroken, especially because canceling a cashier’s check is a long and involved process. Then, with the help of a local news station, the owner of the pizza restaurant finally located her and was able to return the money.
Karen was thrilled to learn she wasn’t just out $424,000 (who wouldn’t be?!) and was beyond grateful for the restaurant’s owner and Armando for doing the right thing — especially given that she hadn’t tipped Armando in the first place!
Being the gracious man he is, Armando refused a delayed tip/reward from Karen for doing the right thing. He figured the whole ordeal was a nice lesson for Karen to learn the importance of tipping tired servers (especially those just trying to work their way through med school). And, as it would happen, Karen thinks she’ll be friends with Armando for life!
What an incredible story! Thanks to Armando for being ever-diligent; those in the service industry really don’t get the credit they deserve.
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