A couple at IHOP were minding their own business when a waiter marched over and motioned for the husband to stop what he was doing. The man had only been feeding his disabled wife, but he put down his silverware. When the waiter then sat down at their table, another guest took out her phone to record the full exchange.
The woman at the diner was battling Huntington's Disease, a progressive neurological disorder that affects brain cells.
When she and her husband made their weekly visit to IHOP, the two would order their usual, but when the food arrived, the husband's breakfast--two eggs over easy, sausage, and a pancake with an egg on top--would grow cold. That's because the man would eat only after he slowly and carefully fed his wife first.
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After witnessing the same thing every time the couple came in, Joe Thomas, the IHOP waiter, had had enough. Joe, an 11-year IHOP veteran, and a man who treats the little kiddos when they come in because he has no children of his own, sat down at the table and shooed the husband away. He grabbed a fork and knife and started cutting up the woman's eggs so he could feed her.
“I didn’t really offer. I just started doing it,” Thomas told CBS News. “I told the gentleman to ‘Sit down, eat your food. I got her.’”
And that became their new routine.
“I really treat people like I want to be treated,” Thomas said. “If I get to be that age and something happened to me I would want someone to help me out.”
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It was during one such breakfast that Keshia Dotson, another customer seated just a few tables away, snapped the photo that's gone viral.
“She was coughing and then would gag really loud almost like she was choking,” Dotson told CBS News. “The first time she did it almost the entire restaurant went silent and he cracked a joke and reduced the tension. It wasn’t long after that that we noticed him sitting down with her and helping feed her and once she was done get her all cleaned up.”
The best part? Joe's coworkers say it's no big deal--he does this kind of stuff all the time because that's just who he is.
“I have a soft heart,” Thomas said. “Everything I do is honestly just natural, besides the way my parents raised me. I don’t think about it. I just do it.”
Joe's own parents both suffered from health conditions that required extra help. His mom battled diabetes and his father got prostate cancer, so Joe is used to taking care of others.
Now that thousands of people have seen his photo and heard about his act of kindness he hopes others are inspired to lend a helping hand.
“Remember that movie, ‘Pay It Foward’? That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said.
What an inspirational story! More of this, please!