When Cindi Grady’s boss told her to put down her tray and follow her outside, the waitress thought that she was in big trouble. That was far from the case, however; instead, Grady was led into the parking lot, where a kind couple were waiting to give her the Christmas gift of a lifetime.
Grady is a waitress at Cracker Barrel in Branson, Missouri, and it was during a shift at the restaurant that she received her huge surprise. Given the nature of the gift, too, it’s perhaps no surprise that a video of the incident has gone totally viral.
The story begins way back in 2014, however. That summer, a couple from Arkansas began eating at the same Cracker Barrel where Grady was an employee. And there was something that the pair couldn’t help but notice about the place.
The customers in question, Gary and Roxann Tackett, also came to know Grady a little. Indeed, the duo discovered that not only was the waitress great at her job, but they also came to find out a bit about Grady’s personal life. The Tacketts learned, for instance, that Grady had a son with disabilities.
Then, during the couple’s trips to the restaurant that summer, they unearthed another piece of information about Grady. It was all to do with a rather depressing object that sat in the parking lot – something that, as it happens, belonged to the Cracker Barrel employee herself.
The item was Grady’s car, a blue Hyundai that was badly beat up. And the vehicle had clearly been through a lot: it was covered in dents and scratches, and there was even a window missing altogether. In fact, the Tacketts actually assumed that the car had just been abandoned.
And while speaking to Missouri-based CBS affiliate KOLR in 2014, Gary Tackett said that he and his wife had had a discussion about the car. “I talked with my wife about it, and I said, ‘Something has to be done,’” he said.
Meanwhile, Grady, who had hit several deer with the Hyundai, admitted that cosmetically the car was “falling apart.” Even so, she said, it still ran okay. To everyone else, though, it just looked like a neglected wreck. But what happened next to Grady, she never saw coming.
Indeed, on one Saturday morning, Grady got the shock of her life. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and she was working her shift at Cracker Barrel when the Tacketts turned up to eat. Suffice to say, though, that that wasn’t all the couple were there to do.
Then, as the Tacketts finished their meal and went outside, Grady’s boss asked her for a word. It was a busy time in the restaurant, so in that moment, Grady was convinced that she had done something wrong. But the manager didn’t lead Grady into the office.
Instead, Grady’s boss then took her out to where the Tacketts were standing in the parking lot. It was then that the waitress figured out that something was going on – and what happened next was caught on camera.
After that, Gary Tackett walked over to Grady. “We’ve been watching you drive that car all summer,” he said, referring to the battered Hyundai. His next sentence was a truly heartwarming one, though, and what it revealed would change the waitress’ life.
Grady continued, “We decided that you needed something better… Merry Christmas.” Then he gestured towards something in the parking lot. That something was a brand new car that he and his wife had bought for Grady.
Sitting in the parking lot was a Ford car with a red bow on it. Grady herself clearly couldn’t believe her eyes, however, and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” as they strolled over to admire her Christmas gift.
The car was in great condition, and although it was not new, it was far more presentable than the waitress’ old model. Now it was time for Grady to get inside and check out her new vehicle, which had set the Tacketts back $2,500.
And speaking to The Huffington Post after the reveal, Grady said that she had never seen the surprise coming. “I never dreamed I would own something this nice,” she explained. What’s more, it seemed as if the gift had come at an ideal time.
Grady told KOLR, “I was in a spot where I was depressed, driving that car there, just feeling like nobody cares.” She added, “It’s very different now.” And, unsurprisingly, Grady wasn’t the only one who was touched by the Tacketts’ generosity.
The Tacketts’ daughter, Chelsea Todd, was full of praise for the couple too. She uploaded the video showing Grady receiving the car, and that post would soon go viral, collecting over 600,000 likes on Facebook. Todd also wrote alongside the clip, “My parents are the most generous, kind-hearted, loving people I know. I’m so proud to be their daughter!”
And Grady seemed to appreciate the gesture as well. “I have never experienced that love from total strangers,” she told The Huffington Post. Perhaps, then, the Tacketts’ kindness at Thanksgiving made Grady herself count her own blessings.
During an interview with ABC News, the waitress would also describe the couple as “nice, God-fearing people,” adding that it was a relief not to worry whether her car would start or not every morning. And, perhaps best of all, Grady was so touched by the love the “strangers” showed her that she has vowed to pay that kindness forward when the time comes.