As 2017 comes to an end, we looked back at the year to see what stories were the most popular online. In past years, the top stories were a mix of tragedies or weather events that affected the islands.
However, this year, our top story online by a large margin was the story of a young waitress working two jobs to pay off her debt to complete her education. As most who live in Hawaii know, the cost of living can be daunting.
Here’s the story of how a hard working Cayla Chandara’s heartfelt thank you for a tip became much more.
A waitress at a popular Waikiki restaurant got a very big surprise during her shift.
Cayla Chandara had been pulling double-duty at two different restaurants in Waikiki.
She was waiting on a couple from Australia at Noi Thai Cuisine last week.
She says they hit it off, and they talked quite a bit as the couple dined at the restaurant.
“They asked me where I was from, and I told them I moved here for school but I was kind of in a little bit of debt and I couldn’t go back to school, because I couldn’t afford it and the cost of living here,” Chandara said.
The visitors rang up a $200 bill, paid their tab and left.
Chandara says she was shocked to see the tip was double the bill at $400.
“I just thought it was so generous of them. I never get tipped that big. I had to say thank you,” she said. “During dinner, they told me where they were staying, so I ran there after work to see if they’d still be there.”
They were, and Chandara was able to give them a thank-you card and flowers.
The next day, they gave her even more. The couple returned to the restaurant and offered to help pay off her student loans and debt, which totaled more than $10,000.
“I was like, ‘No way, you don’t have to do that for me. I just wanted to say thank you,'” Chandara said. “I still don’t feel like it’s real. I want to run around in the streets.”
The couple wanted to remain anonymous, but told Chandara the best way to thank them was to be her best possible self.
“I want to make them proud. I will take this opportunity with an open heart and be a better person that I can be every day,” Chandara said.
Chandara plans to study liberal arts and business when she returns to school.