A waiter at an IHOP in Springfield, Illinois, is earning praise from thousands of strangers after a photo of him serving up an act of kindness earned national attention.
Keisha Dotson, 26, was eating at the restaurant on Saturday when she spotted her server sitting with a woman in a wheelchair, helping her eat.
“The lady was a couple of seats away from us. I’m not sure what her disability was, but she was coughing really loud,” Dotson told NBC News, adding, “The entire restaurant was dead quiet. The waiter cracked a joke about it, and it made her smile.”
“My mom noticed it. We watched. As he was feeding, I decided to snap the picture,” Dotson said. She posted the photo on IHOP’s Facebook page, where it was shared more than 4,000 times by Tuesday night.
“My faith in humanity has been restored a little today,” she wrote in the post about what she called “a very touching moment.”
Dotson, an adult programs coordinator at a library in nearby Rochester, said she is a regular customer at the Springfield IHOP but this was the first time she had encountered the server, whose name is Joe Thomas.
Thomas told NBC affiliate WAND that he was raised to practice compassion, and was simply doing what he could for a regular customer.
“My mother and father always told me to treat everybody as equals, no matter what race, creed, color, whatever,” Thomas said. “Treat everybody equal.”
"I just love helping people," he added. "Every Saturday they'll come in and they don't even need menus or anything. I know exactly what they want."
His co-workers praised his work ethic, with one saying “Joe has been doing it for a long time with these customers, and they are really great.”
“Ever since I started working here every weekend that couple comes in and he feeds her every single weekend,” said another.
Dotson, along with hundreds of people commenting on her photo, was in awe of the gesture.
“I’m completely blown away. I shared it because I worked in retail and in the service industry, no one takes the time to give positive feedback,” she explained.
“I wanted the company to know they have an amazing employee that is doing service to their patrons,” Dotson added.