Red Lobster restaurant server Toni Christina Jenkins never knew that a happy ending awaited her after suffering from a racial incident. The African American student was working at the seafood eatery in Tennessee on a Saturday afternoon in September when she received a rude message from two customers.
According to Ms Jenkins, she was serving a couple of customers during her shift at the restaurant when the customers left her an offensive message on their receipt.
The couple, whom she described as a man and woman in their 20s, racked almost USD45 on their bill. They paid through credit card, and not only did they refused to give Ms Jenkins a tip, they also insulted her by writing the slur "nig***" on the receipt.t
"This is what I got as a tip last night... so happy to live in the proud southern states... God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee," the 19-year-old server captioned the photo of the receipt on her Facebook page.
While there are those who doubt her story, the nursing student denied that she faked the receipt simply for not receiving a tip.
"I don't get tips all the time. I really don't care 'cause God is my provider I don't worry about tips," she told MailOnline exclusively.
She described the incident to the UK paper, saying that the couple were "extremely rude."
"I introduced myself to them and they didn't respond. When I came to take their order, they simply told me they wanted their food and to put everything in a to-go box. I offered them dessert, but they told me abruptly that they just wanted the check.
"When I went back to the table they had gone and left the receipt and had written the comments."
She has showed the receipt to her manager, who assured her that she did nothing wrong and did not deserve the abuse.
However, she was suspended with full pay by the Red Lobster Franklin, TN branch after she posted the receipt online as it is against company policy to do so.
The photo of the receipt showed the customer's name, but Devin Barnes denied writing the word "nig***" on the receipt. He admitted that he wrote "none" on the tip line, but he left the total line blank.
"He's just not that type of individual," his attorney Richard Dugger told WCSH6.com. "He doesn't speak that way."
Mr Barnes has maintained his innocence over the incident, claiming that he has received threats after Ms Jenkins posted the receipt.
"I do not approve of the use of that type of talk, not now or ever," Mr Barnes' handwritten note, which his lawyer provided, reads.
His attorney was reportedly planning to hire a handwriting expert to prove his client's innocence, though there has been no update of the cause.
Whether he did write the racial slur as Ms Jenkins claimed or not as he maintained, the nursing student still got her happy ending.
After her story got viral, a man in California took the initiative and posted the details on the online fundraising Web site YouCaring.com. And after a few days, "Tips for Toni" gathered over USD10,000 from concerned Netizens.
She received the check earlier in October.
"Words cannot go forth on how thankful, how genuine, and how blessed I feel that those people had a heart to give to me when they didn't even know me," Ms Jenkins told thegrio.com.
Asked what she had done with the money, she said, "The first thing that came to me was, 'God just bought my car.' So, and that's exactly what I did with it. I paid some loans back at school. I got me a great, reliable car. And I'm overjoyed and blessed."
She added that she plans to keep her waitressing job at the Red Lobster.
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