Most people who have suffered from serious illnesses strive to return to a sense of normalcy. Whether or not it makes them feel better physically, being able to do the same things they used to may provide some solace.

In a small way, it does help. That’s why so many people try to get back to their old day-to-day activities as part of their natural healing process.

When one woman developed a severe problem with her esophagus, her daughter thought that it would be nice to have a meal at Denny’s like they used to. What happened next, though, was enough to infuriate just about anybody.

Sarah Saba’s elderly mother suffered from severe health problems that required surgery on her esophagus. Like with every serious illness, her mother’s health problems put a strain not just on herself, but on the entire family’s spirits. 

The surgery that Sarah’s mother had was successful, but it did cause her to cough and sometimes choke as she ate. Because of this, her mother became shy and nervous about eating in public; it’s not hard to understand her anxieties about it.


It was for this reason that Sarah wanted to encourage her mother to leave the house for a meal. Sarah wanted to treat her mother to a meal at Denny’s near their Minnesota home one day so that she could have a relatively normal dining experience like she used to. Sadly, what she got was far from that.

It was a bit embarrassing that Sarah’s mother kept coughing, but otherwise, everything was fine. The two women enjoyed their meal and Sarah’s mother started to feel like her happy self again! That’s why what happened next was so deeply upsetting.


When the two women finished their meal, they asked their server for the check. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But when their server returned and left their bill, neither of the women expected what they saw on the receipt…

Curtis Perry / Flickr

This note—”Add $15 for life alert button”—was written by the manager, Bob Quigley. At first, Sarah couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Why on Earth would someone write a note like that, let alone charge them for her mother’s coughing?

1-dennys-waitressSarah spoke to the owner of the Denny’s restaurant and was promised that Bob would be reprimanded, written-up, and given special training. However, because of his tenure with the company, he could not be fired.


Sarah said that she was given an apology in the form of a reimbursement for her meal and a gift card toward her next meal. While these were kind gestures, they hardly made up for the embarrassment her mother felt that day.

Bob also apologized over the phone, claiming it was a joke about the 60-year-old waitress. Bob claimed that the joke was aimed at the waitress who was starting to have a hard time getting around herself. Either way, the joke fell flat. 


Whatever Bob’s reason was for including this nasty note at the bottom of the receipt, it wasn’t a kind thing for him to do. Comedy that drags other people down and makes them feel bad isn’t very good at all, and it certainly didn’t make Sarah and her mother feel very welcome.

When you’re in the business of customer service you have to treat everyone with respect and kindness, period. This guy is lucky that he got to keep his job.

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