Kolbie Sanders was at her local Whataburger restaurant when she noticed some kind of scene unfolding at the counter. The cashier was struggling to understand what a woman was ordering. But when he handed her a note, he realized what she was after.
Sanders lives in Denton, Texas. And in 2016 the then 21-year-old was earning a living by bartending and waiting tables. Her shifts ended late, and one night that spring, Sanders had worked up quite an appetite on the job.
By the time she had finished, Sanders wanted food – and fast. With that in mind, she and her boyfriend decided that a late-night visit to their local Whataburger was in order. So they jumped in their car with the intention of hitting the drive-thru.
However, when the young couple reached the fast food restaurant, they discovered the line for the drive-thru was quite lengthy. As a result, the decided they’d take their chances inside. But when they stepped into the burger joint, the queue there exceeded their expectations too.
Sanders and her boyfriend considered going elsewhere to grab food. But by this point, it was already 1:00 a.m., and the waitress was so hungry that she decided to wait. So we can only imagine her horror when she realized the line in front of her was going down at a snail’s pace.
However, before Sanders let her impatience get the better of her, she decided to investigate instead. Later, sharing her story with the Love What Matters Facebook page in 2016, the bartender revealed, “I realize the line isn’t really moving. So I start paying attention as to why because there were several people working in the back.”
Glancing up the line, Sanders’ eyes eventually met the cashier, who was in the process of serving a customer. After exchanging a few words Sanders watched as the man handed the customer a piece of paper, which the woman dutifully began to sign.
Later, Sanders revealed the moving reason behind the note. “The girl ordered her food and the cashier just looked at her, smiled, and very faintly said, ‘I am deaf. Can you please talk slower,’” the bartender-cum-waitress revealed.
According to Sanders, the customer was more than happy to accept the cashier’s request. However, even with her slowed-down speech, her server was still unable to grasp what she was saying. So it was at that point that he handed over the pen and paper, so that she could write her order instead.
As she looked on, Sanders was impressed with the dignified way in which the customer had written down her order. “They did so without hesitation,” she explained. “Without a sign of impatience. Just pure joy and genuine kindness to be helping that young working man do his job.”
In fact, Sanders was so mesmerized that she watched the cashier’s exchanges even after placing her own order. And she was delighted to see, one by one, people slowing down in a bid to help the young man take their order.
Sanders revealed, “I watched even after I placed my own order to see how everyone would react to him. To see if anyone would lose their temper with him taking extra long, or get impatient because they were having to be hungry even longer.”
But no one showed any sign of frustration towards the cashier. “I was surprised because not one person acted rude or impatient,” Sanders said. “Every customer complied with him and wrote down their orders without any complaints, just smiling back at him.”
After her trip to Whataburger, Sanders decided to share her experience on social media. One of the reasons she did so was to celebrate more diverse workplaces. She also wanted to congratulate the fast-food chain for employing a deaf cashier.
Speaking of the young man, Sanders wrote, “He is a special person that was given a fair chance at a job and does so willingly and with a smile on his face. THAT is utterly impressive and remarkable. Kudos to Whataburger alone for allowing this young man to work.”
However, that was not Sanders’ only reason for sharing her tale. She was also full of praise for her fellow customers that night. It seemed that seeing their kind reactions towards the cashier had renewed her faith in humanity.
Sanders said, “Seeing so many people bully others on a daily basis, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see these small acts of kindness demonstrated from so many different people. Seeing people forget their pride or their problems or even their hunger is something you don’t see often. But at the end of the day, it’s about others, not ourselves.”
Given the heartwarming subject matter of Sanders’ post, it soon went viral. Before long, the young man behind the Whataburger counter was identified as 20-year-old Taylor Pope. And he was honored to have had his story celebrated by so many.
In an interview with ABC News in 2016, Pope said, “My job isn’t always so fun but the only thing that makes it worth it is my co-workers and the customers.” He added, “[It’s] so heartwarming to know there are so many good people in the world that lets me be their inspiration.”
After their brush with fame, Sanders and Pope were reunited and soon struck up a friendship. Later, Pope’s mom Jennifer Pope revealed that Sanders’ post had helped to boost her son’s confidence. “It gave him a sense of pride that the hard work he’s done is paying off for him. He’s struggled in the past to fit in, so it’s great,” she said.