Acts Of Kindness: Spontaneous ‘Pay It Forward’ in N.Y. Diner Astounds Waitress

In the 1999 American drama film Pay it Forward, Haley Joel Osment plays a boy named Trevor McKinney who starts a movement based on the idea of networking good deeds. The concept behind the movement is that the recipient of an act of kindness must “pay it forward” by performing another act of kindness (one they cannot complete themselves) for three others rather than simply paying it back to the original individual.

Maa’s Diner in Webster is a classic-style diner mainly known for its plate-sized pancakes, but patrons at the New York establishment demonstrated that generosity is not dead. In a series of events seemingly out of a children’s storybook, a long pay-it-forward chain was started the day after Christmas. 13WMAZ‘s website reported on the beginning of the story.

“On Saturday, Patricia Rabetoy was working as a waitress at Maa’s Diner in Webster, N.Y. Her shift started at 7:30 a.m. with a mother and daughter eating breakfast. While they were eating, an unknown man walked to the cash register and paid for the mother and daughter’s meal.”

Rabetoy had been working as a waitress at the diner for the past two years and witnessed the events firsthand. When the mother, Danielle Short, and her daughter, Gianna, went to the register to pay the bill, Rabetoy informed them an anonymous person had already paid for their breakfast.

Acts Of Kindness: Spontaneous 'Pay It Forward' in N.Y. Diner Astounds Waitress
Haley Joel Osment as Trevor McKinney in the Warner Bros. Pictures movie"Pay It Forward." (Photo by David James/2000 Warner Bros. & Bel Air Pictures, LLC/Newsmakers)

“Oh my God, that’s so awesome,” Short was quoted as saying. “Well, I think I need to do the same.”

They picked out another couple from the restaurant and paid for their breakfast, as well. Short was quoted by 13WHAM ABC Rochester about how being the lucky recipient made her feel.

“It felt good. You go up and [someone’s] paid for your meal. It was a nice feeling,” Short said. “We just had a morning after Christmas breakfast, and just decided to come in. It just shows that people are in the giving spirit.”

This simple gesture repeated itself for the next six hours straight. Customers continued paying each other’s tabs for Rabetoy’s entire shift, which started at 7:30 a.m. and concluded at 1:15 p.m. By the end of her shift, the customers at Maa’s had “paid it forward” 23 times in a row.

“The amazing part was every person who had their breakfast paid for reciprocated. At the end of the day, 23 people had participated, very willingly,” Rabetoy further said to ABC. “It just got to be so much fun just to see: oh, I’ll take their check, and I’ll take their check.”

Acts Of Kindness: Spontaneous 'Pay It Forward' in N.Y. Diner Astounds Waitress
Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment in the drama film, "Pay It Forward." (Photo by David James/2000 Warner Bros. & Bel Air Pictures, LLC/Newsmakers)

Rabetoy stressed that everyone who participated did so willingly. Customers in the pay-it-forward chain also randomly picked out people and tables to pay their bills, no matter how many people were at the table in question or how sizable the bill was. Ashlee Grann, who also works at the diner, noted to 13WMAZ that customers did not even ask how high the bills were before paying, adding that while some were rather low in price, others were as high as $50.

“Two-person tables were paying for four-person tables,” Grann said. “I was not expecting it to go up that high. They didn’t care how much it was. They weren’t even asking.”

There was no consistent pattern in the patrons chosen, either: some were regulars while others were new. The staff of the diner eventually started saying a “secret Santa” had paid for each patron’s meal at Rabetoy’s suggestion. Rabetoy was quoted by ABC as saying she had never experienced such generosity in her entire working career.

“I’ve been a waitress for 40 years and that was by far the best shift I’ve ever waitressed.”

This is not the first time such spontaneous acts of kindness have been passed on in such a consistent and inspiring manner. The Inquisitr reported a story earlier this year about a man who left a $3,000 tip on a $43.50 check in the name of paying it forward.

[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]