When one waitress received a $400 tip, she couldn’t believe her luck – but she had no idea that things were about to get even better. In fact, it seemed the woman had made such an impression on two of her customers that they wanted to change her life forever.
Cayla Chandara originally comes from the state of California, but in 2015 she moved across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. Once there, the young woman had plans to go to college.
After Chandara arrived in Hawaii, though, things got tough. She struggled to earn enough money to pay her bills and keep up with her studies. As a result, she had to give up school and go to work instead.
In fact, Chandara had to take on two waitressing jobs just to stay afloat: one at the Cheesecake Factory and another at Noi Thai Cuisine in Honolulu. And she still had a long way off before she had cleared her school debts.
Most of Chandara’s waitressing shifts naturally passed without incident, but one work day in 2017 will no doubt stay with her forever. In fact, it had life-changing consequences for the young lady.
Chandara was working at Noi Thai Cuisine when she got talking to some of her customers. The couple in question were from Australia, and Chandara found herself baring her soul to the diners.
How did this happen? Well, the couple wanted to know more about life in Hawaii, so they asked Chandara how she had come to live on the island and how she liked it so far. In response, the young waitress explained how she was working 80-hour weeks just to get by.
She also told them how she’d had to give up her dream. “I told them I moved here for school, but I was kind of in a little bit of debt and I couldn’t go back to school, because I couldn’t afford it,” Chandara told KHON.
The couple listened carefully to Chandara as she spoke. Then when Chandara got back to work, they continued on with their meal. And the waitress didn’t think anything of the encounter until she came to collect the pair’s bill.
The couple had of course settled their $200 bill before leaving the restaurant – but when Chandara looked closer at their check, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The generous pair had left a tip of $400.
“There were tears streaming, no words at all. Just hugs,” Chandara told Honolulu Civil Beat. “I went back to work in tears and all my tables were crying because I told them what happened. We were all crying and hugging. It was a cool experience.”
“I just thought it was so generous of them. I never get tipped that big. I had to say thank you,” the waitress told KHON2. “During dinner, they told me where they were staying, so I ran there after work to see if they’d still be there.”
Chandara arrived at the couple’s hotel bearing a card and a bunch of flowers as a token of her appreciation. The thrilled waitress then thought that would be the end of the matter, but what happened next was truly amazing.
The next day, the couple returned to see Chandara at work once more. It seemed that they had one last act of generosity up their sleeves: they wanted to help the waitress pay off her loans so that she could return to school.
To do so, they were offering to hand over more than $10,000. At first, Chandara declined; it was simply too much to accept. But after more discussions, she eventually agreed to take the money, as the couple wished.
“I told them they couldn’t do that for me but they really wanted to,” she told Honolulu Civil Beat. “They said it would be just as good for them to do it for me. Then they took care of my current loans and balances and they’re going to pay for the rest of college.”
“I was like, ‘No way, you don’t have to do that for me. I just wanted to say thank you,’” Chandara told KTLA. She admitted that the reality of what they’d done hadn’t yet sunk in. “I still don’t feel like it’s real. I want to run around in the streets.”
And unbelievably, the generous couple wanted absolutely nothing in return. Chandara said she was keen to know how she could ever repay their kindness, but they simply told her, “Be your best possible self, dream big and strive for your goals.” And so that’s exactly what she aims to do.
Chandara now hopes to return to studying liberal arts and business, and she’s determined to succeed in honor of the couple. “I want to make them proud,” she told KTLA. “I will take this opportunity with an open heart.”
The two strangers who helped Chandara wished to remain anonymous. For them, it’s enough just knowing that they have given one young woman a second shot at life. And thanks to their generosity, Chandara can hopefully achieve all of her dreams.