Waiting tables can be tough – low on pay and high on stress. Not only are you on your feet all shift following orders, but you have to do so with a smile on your face. Chances are that the average server depends on their gratuities just to get by, and so they have to keep their customers happy. But in early 2018, Californian waitress Chelsea Roff had the best shift ever. It started with a tip of a lifetime, when a stranger left her $1,000. But the gratuities over the day kept growing, with each customer leaving the server an offering that outdid the last. These bonuses continued until the last gift brought Roff to her knees and left her in floods of tears.
Chelsea Roff is a 28-year-old waitress who lives in Venice, Los Angeles. She serves customers at the Spring Street Smokehouse bar and restaurant down town, but that is just one of her jobs. Roff also teaches yoga and is the founding director of a very special non-profit organization called Eat Breathe Thrive.
Indeed, Roff has integrated her love of yoga into the charity’s works in its efforts to support sufferers recovering from eating disorders. This cause is particularly meaningful for Roff, with her having battled with behavioral issues concerning food in the past. And it is fair to say that the server’s illness, combined with the task of raising her little sister from an early age, has meant that Roff has not enjoyed the smoothest ride in life.
However, hopefully all that changed one day in late March 2018, when Roff was on the staff rota at the Spring Street Smokehouse. Over the duration of a single shift, the server had the course of her life altered – all thanks to a group of strangers. It all started when Roff went to retrieve the paid bill from one of her tables and got the most amazing surprise.
And everything that went down was caught on film, which subsequently got uploaded to the internet and became a viral sensation. In the footage, we see that Roff can clearly not believe the thick wad of notes left for her on the table. When the waitress counts it all up, she realizes that her tip totals $1,000.
Consequently, she consults her boss, manager Chris Patterson. He tells the gobsmacked employee to simply pocket the cash. Nevertheless, the server shows her true colors by selflessly saying that she wants to split it among the team. Following this exchange, we see a somewhat flustered Roff get back to work waiting her tables.
Next up is a couple on a table who tell Roff that unfortunately they do not have enough spare change to leave her a gratuity. However, what the departing man and woman do have to spare proves so much better than a pile of coins. The diners inform their waitress that they own a travel agency and have an extra voucher for a Hawaii vacation for two left over. Rather than a cash tip, they offer the gift token to Roff.
The employee is visibly taken aback by the generous offer, and we see her decline. But evidently the couple have been delighted by the service they had received and insist that Roff takes the voucher. At this point, it looked like this shift was shaping up to be the best the server had ever had. But then something even bigger and better comes her way.
We see that Roff’s next customer is a lone female diner who has a yoga book out at her table. This sparks up a conversation about the practice, which we know is the waitress’ passion. When the woman asks Roff if she indulges in the discipline, the server proudly states, “I do do yoga. I do a lot of yoga.”
On being questioned further, we hear Roff explain all about her prior eating disorder and how yoga helped her through. This is when the woman turns to Roff and tells her that they share something in common. It turns out that the lone diner also runs a non-profit eating-disorder program. But if this coincidence was not enough, what the woman says next blows Roff clean away.
The diner announces that she is in fact a clinical psychologist, and asks Roff if she might be interested in bringing her yoga skills to the charitable organization. Effectively, instead of a couple of bucks, this stranger is offering Roff a dream job as a gratuity. “Wow. That’s not what I was expecting today,” the server exclaims in total disbelief.
The waitress would have been well advised to hold on to her sense of incredulity, because there were still more surprises to be served up. When she collects money from another solo female diner, Roff notices something attached to the bill. Thinking it was a mistake, the server hands back a set of car keys to the woman. But then the customer puts the brakes on.
We hear the woman explain, “That’s your car key,” to a completely confused Roff. The waitress says, “I don’t understand.” But even as she us talking, we see the diner getting to her feet. “Let’s go outside,” she says to Roff, beckoning the restaurant employee to follow her out on to the street.
Outside in the sunshine, the camera picks up a shiny silver Nissan with a giant red bow on top pulling up outside the Spring Street Smokehouse. “See that car?” the stranger asks Roff, before clarifying, “That’s your car.” All the shaken server can say is, “Why are you doing this?” But the new Nissan contained the final surprise.
As the generous diner leads Roff towards the car, we hear her say to the waitress, “Let’s go, let’s see who’s inside!” At that moment, we see another woman step out of the car. And Roff’s joyous reaction is utterly priceless. She jumps up and down in excitement and then falls to her knees overwhelmed by emotion.
It appears that the server is ecstatic to see who emerges from the car. Indeed, it turns out that the woman in question, Diana Roehl, is an old friend of Roff’s that she never expected to see that day. In fact, Roehl was Roff’s first ever yoga teacher and so was intrinsically involved in the waitress’ recovery from her eating disorder. And the heartwarming way that the two women embrace shows just how much they still mean to one another.
As they hug, cameras surround them, and the woman who gifted the car keys steps forward with something to say to Roff. Apparently, the amazing strokes of good fortune visited on the waitress that day had not been just down to fate. The karma had not come about by coincidence, and the woman explains that Roff has become the latest star of entertainment website Break.com’s online TV show, Prank it FWD.
The actress continues by needlessly telling Roff, “You just got the best shift ever!” Because it was all beginning to make sense to the server now. Prank it FWD targets subjects who deserve a little treat in life. The makers pull only positive pranks on their selected unwitting participants in order to uplift and inspire others.
Consequently, Roff’s experience of Prank it FWD was uploaded to YouTube so vast amounts of viewers could share in her delightful day. Since the footage was uploaded, in early April, 2018, the clip has gone super-viral, garnering more than 14 million views. Many who witnessed it online were extremely touched by Roff’s story, and more than a few left comments saying that the video had brought tears to their eyes.
Furthermore, there was another thing that the online community could not get over. Many commenters noted that although Roff was overwhelmed by the amazing gifts – money, vacation, dream job offer and new car – her biggest reaction came when she saw her friend, Roehl. As one YouTube user summed up, “That is truly someone who deserves everything she got.”