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Waitress given $2,500 tip from couple inspired by her story

| December 15, 2020 1:00 AM

An Idaho couple gave their waitress the tip of a lifetime after hearing her story and rallying friends on social media to donate.

“We are at Pho Le 1, a new restaurant in [Coeur d’Alene],” Michael Wolsten posted on Facebook, tagging his wife, Kelly Wolsten. “Our waitress tonight is a single mother of two small kiddos (5 and 4). She is working 3 jobs and we want to bless her big time.”

Wolsten then asked his 910 Facebook friends if they wanted to help leave her a tip. More than 100 people from around the state and the country responded with donations within two hours, Michael Wolsten told McClatchy News in a message.

“I spent the whole meal getting messages and tracking,” Michael Wolsten said.

The combined amount of tips came out to nearly $2,500, Michael Wolsten wrote. He posted a video of their waitress’s reaction in a comment on his original post, which got 171 reactions, 373 comments and 63 shares as of Dec. 8.

“We just wanted to bless you, and over 100 people wanted to bless you,” Kelly Wolsten said in the video.

The waitress posted a comment on Wolsten’s Facebook page, saying, “I am truly SO GRATEFUL to have [crossed] paths with you guys tonight. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I had no idea ... So I seriously thought when she asked me to come over, I thought she was going to complain about the food or service so I was thinking in my head if I said something I shouldn’t have or if I was being awkward because I’m exhausted today. Lol But it was absolutely a BLESSING. THANK YOU ALL AGAIN FOR YOUR KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY.”

Michael Wolsten told McClatchy their “only goal was to bless our waitress … but we are excited to see the hope [is] spreading.”

“This has inspired us to keep listening to others,” Michael Wolsten said. “We love that this story has given lots of people hope in humanity. We are in awe that over 100 of our friends would jump in and help someone they did not even know. It’s an example of what people can do when we unite in love. Sometimes good people just need an opportunity to do good things.”

The minimum wage in Idaho is $7.25 — the federal minimum — but employers only need to pay tipped employees a direct wage of $3.35 an hour, according to Idaho Statute Title 44. If the direct wages combined with tips does not reach $7.25 an hour, the employer is obligated to make up the difference, the statute states.