One of the perks of working at a place where customer interactions are part of the daily grind is developing special relationships. Not everyone is the type to go out of their way to get to know you, but there are always those special few who can make a day better with one short conversation. These people are the reason you go to work every day.
Minnesota resident Angela Nyguyen enjoyed her job as a Domino’s delivery driver for the frequent and friendly interactions it offered. She took a special interest in an elderly gentleman named Lee, but the more she learned about him, the more she realized he was in serious need of help.
Angela Nguyen of Anoka County, Minnesota, worked as a delivery driver for a Domino’s pizzeria near her home. Although the shifts were long and strenuous sometimes, she loved the constant customer interaction it offered her.
Before Angela worked as a delivery driver, she was a traveling nurse for the Minnesota Visiting Nurses. There, she performed housekeeping for people living with HIV and AIDS. She loved the everyday interactions and human connections.
Angela’s daughter, Sarah, turned her onto the idea of delivering for Domino’s after the housekeeping job. Sarah had children of her own, so she and Angela, she figured, could work opposite shifts so one of them was always home to babysit. The lifestyle worked well for everyone.
As delivery drivers, both got to know plenty of people around Anoka County, but there was one 76-year-old man both women developed an extra-special bond with over time.
His name was Lee Haase. Like clockwork, every Saturday morning, he’d call and place an order, and either Angela or Sarah would bring the cheery man his pizza and chat for a bit. Through their conversations, they learned 2015 was a brutal year for Lee.
A horrible storm at the beginning of the year caused a massive tree to destroy much of his home. The damage was too expensive for Lee to afford, so he was forced to move into a deteriorating trailer he owned.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Lee’s son was then killed in a horrible snowmobiling accident later that year. This destroyed the elderly man, and he sank into a period of depression. However, he was always cheery when Angela and Sarah stopped by.
Even though Lee had the trailer to move into, it was a far cry from home. The same storm that destroyed Lee’s house didn’t leave the trailer in much better condition; one look made that glaringly obvious.
But the women had only ever handed Lee his pizza outside; they never saw what the living conditions were. Following an afternoon shift at Domino’s, however, Sarah returned home to tell Angela she saw inside.
Not only was the trailer lacking electricity, but Lee lived without heat and plumbing. Unable to cook, he ordered his weekly Domino’s. Since it was summer, the issue with the heat wasn’t huge, but once winter rolled around? That was a different story.
After learning of the terrible trailer conditions, Angela and Sarah went out of their way to get Lee things he might need but couldn’t get himself, like hot coffee and doughnuts for breakfast.
Angela feared for Lee’s safety. Winter was still several months away, but if he didn’t find a place with heat and electricity by the time frigid temperatures blew in, he wouldn’t survive. So, Angela and Sarah went above and beyond to help out their elderly friend.
They started a GoFundMe page in hopes other Anoka County residents would help Lee out. Angela read success stories about the site helping out those in need, and she prayed people would respond positively.
After setting up Lee’s site, Angela traveled around to nearby trailer parks in search of something affordable and comfortable for Lee to potentially move into. She found something close by, but it was all dependent on how the GoFundMe page progressed.
Miraculously, donations came pouring in from people genuinely concerned with Lee’s well-being. Angela was completely shocked it only took two months to nearly reach the goal of $35,000. Christmas was coming early for Lee this year.
Once the money was locked in, Angela secured the brand new trailer. Just a few months earlier, she feared for her elderly friend’s life, and now she was about to surprise him with a new home. Once the trailer was furnished, she invited Lee over…
Lee’s jaw dropped when he entered. Waiting for him inside were Angela, Sarah, and a few of their friends, and they greeted him with a massive hug! Lee was speechless at their act of generosity.
Now, Lee had electricity, heat, running water, and fully stocked cabinets. The upcoming winter was no longer a concern; Angela and Sarah could rest easy knowing their friend was finally safe.
Now that Lee finally had a stove and a microwave, he cut down on his Domino’s orders. That, of course, didn’t stop Sarah and Angela from popping by occasionally to make sure he was comfortable and safe. He always was.
After helping Lee, Angela realized how many other customers needed outside assistance. She even started another GoFundMe page for a woman suffering from Crohn’s disease. As long as Angela’s around, she’s willing to help anyone as best she can.
Oddly, people backed by corporate America have stepped up time and time again all over the country. A young man — who remained anonymous for his story — found this out while flipping through the TV channels one night.
Although he was used to vegging out on the couch, watching movies or doing some work on his laptop, he always wished he had people to hang out with. Spending time by himself had its advantages, but he yearned for company.
As he stared vacantly at his television screen, an overwhelming sadness suddenly came over him. His mind kept playing the words “you’re all alone” in a loop, and he couldn’t get it to stop.
Catching him completely off guard, tears began streaming down his face. He wasn’t sure why his body was having such a visceral reaction to his thoughts, but it was something he could no longer ignore.
He really didn’t have many options at that point. With no family to reach out or friends to offer any sort of comfort, he pulled out his phone and did the only thing he thought might relieve some of his internal unhappiness.
He texted Stouffer’s. The pasta company. Could he have texted a depression crisis hotline instead? Of course, and they would have been more than happy to help ease his thoughts. But he wasn’t in the mood to talk with a specialist. He wanted to chat with someone new.
He found the phone number for a Stouffer’s hotline that was ready to take calls at any hour of the day. He was nervous, unsure of how the person on the other end would respond, but it was worth a shot. He needed some sense of relief quickly.
After typing out a brief introduction, he stared down at his phone’s screen, hesitant to send the text. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and gently pressed “send.” Honestly, what was the worst that could happen?
Sure enough, it only took a minute for a text to come in from Stouffer’s. It was a woman named Sarah on the other end, and she had a pleasant demeanor. This was exactly who he was hoping for.
Sarah wanted to know how she could be of assistance. The man felt no need to skirt around the issue. He came out honestly and said, “Hey Sarah, was just lonely and depressed and looking for someone to talk to.”
At this point, there would have definitely been some people who would’ve stopped the conversation or directed him to another source for help. Sarah was surely in no way trained to handle people experiencing bouts of depression. But, she surprised him.
She informed him that although she was available to chat, the conversation had to be about the products they sold since it was a professional line they were communicating on.
Even though the man was wrought with sadness, he thought up a very clever way to keep the conversation going while also discussing Stouffer’s products.
He figured if he established an analogy using food, he could safely discuss what was on his mind without breaking any of the Stouffer’s hotline rules. So, he used lasagna to represent himself.
He described in detail a disastrous lasagna-making process, which represented his struggle with depression. He hoped Sarah would pick up on his attempted workaround.
The man told Sarah the lasagna was being “stretched way to thin with too many responsibilities and was unable to do anything well.” He prayed Sarah would play along with the analogy and offer up some much-needed comfort and advice.
Amazingly, Sarah knew exactly what the man was doing and gave him a perfect answer. Sticking with the pasta analogy, she told him it sounded like the lasagna “needed a reformulation.”
She explained that mistakes happen to everyone, but just because a lasagna doesn’t come out of the oven looking pristine, it can always be made again. Just because you fail doesn’t mean you give up.
Noodles are incredibly resilient, Sarah told him. She was sure if he was just patient with himself, he’d find that, ultimately, his lasagna would turn out stronger and tastier than ever.
The man, feeling a massive sense of relief from the advice Sarah offered, told her he would, in fact, give his lasagna-making process another go. This time around, he felt confident his recipe would turn out okay. Stouffer’s truly stepped up!