Jackie Johnson-Smith was enjoying a meal out with her husband when her baby began to cry, so she nursed him in the middle of the restaurant. But when her husband asked for the bill, he couldn’t believe what the waitress had written on it. It turned out she had been watching all along.
Johnson-Smith is a mother from Des Moines, Iowa. Back in the summer of 2013, something happened to the new mom and her husband while they were out that was so remarkable the story hit local headlines. It all started when the three of them went out for a meal.
The couple, who had recently welcomed a baby boy into the world, went out for a pizza with the newest addition to the family. They headed to Fong’s pizza restaurant, never having dined there before. But it wasn’t set to be a normal night out.
First of all, the couple’s new baby wasn’t sleeping soundly. Instead, he was a little bit unhappy about something, and so, naturally, Johnson-Smith wanted to calm him down. Thinking that it might be hunger bothering him, the mom began to feed him.
Remaining at the table, Johnson-Smith started to breastfeed her baby. But when he still wasn’t settling, she decided to get up and take him elsewhere. In a Facebook post about the incident, Johnson-Smith said that she moved so as “not to disrupt the restaurant.”
Little did the new mom know that there was someone watching her every move. And that person later did something to let Johnson-Smith know exactly how they felt about her breastfeeding her baby in the middle of the restaurant.
It all came to a head when Johnson-Smith’s husband asked for the bill. But when it arrived he got a bit of a shock. He read something that the waitress had written about his wife on the receipt, and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
That’s because the bill had been tampered with. Not only that, but there was also a little handwritten note next to the final total. Johnson-Smith was so stunned by the message that she uploaded a photograph of the bill to Facebook, where it attracted plenty of attention.
And for good reason too. The note from the waitress may have been totally unexpected, but it wasn’t nasty by any means. In fact, it was an incredibly kind message. After all, the staff member had written it to explain why the bill was one pizza short.
Indeed, the waitress had written “I bought one of your pizzas.” But the reason why she did so was the most astounding part of the story. The final part of the note confirmed the waitress’s intentions. It read, “Please thank your wife for breastfeeding!”
The couple were amazed to have been treated to a discount all because of Johnson-Smith’s decision to breastfeed her baby in the restaurant. According to the new mom, she was “speechless and emotional” when she saw what the waitress had done for them.
In her Facebook post, Johnson-Smith praised the waitress for her kind actions. “Although I don’t need a pat on the back for feeding my child, it sure felt amazing. It is amazing how we women can make each other feel when we empower each other,” she wrote.
Once she uploaded the image of the receipt, the post was shared over 3,000 times, with many people taking the chance to comment on the story. “An amazing act of kindness for something so normal, yet so shunned in our society,” wrote someone who appreciated what the waitress did for Johnson-Smith.
“I have breastfed three children. I have breastfed them in countless places both pleasant and unpleasant, discreetly and out in the open. I have gotten many looks and stares,” wrote Johnson-Smith at the top of her viral Facebook post.
She then went on to say that “tonight erases any negativity I have ever received.” Given that women have been shamed in the past for breastfeeding in a public place, Johnson-Smith’s positive experience at Fong’s pizza restaurant was a breath of fresh air.
When KCCI 8 News spoke to the waitress in question, a woman named Bodi Kinney, she explained the need for people to “come together and support each other when it comes to nursing our children.” Especially given recent stories regarding the hot topic of public breastfeeding.
For example, there was one woman who went to Disneyland in November 2017, with her husband and 10-month-old child. But she received backlash for nursing her son in public. They had been waiting in line for a ride when her baby got hungry, so she did the natural thing and fed him.
Some women nearby made “snarky comments” about the breastfeeding mom rather than supporting her. So, she got her husband to take a photograph with the women in the background, and then she shared it online to turn the shame back onto her.
The perceived stigma around public breastfeeding is not just confined to the U.S. either. A recent survey in the U.K. revealed that 85 percent of moms are ashamed to nurse in public, despite it being a natural human behaviour.
Public breastfeeding is clearly not yet a fully normalized part of society. But perhaps the thoughtful pizza waitress behind Johnson-Smith’s viral story can serve to remind us all that it’s kinder to support instead of shame nursing moms.