Nurse Unwittingly Starts 46-Table Pay-It-Forward Chain at Local Diner

Kathleen Connors did a good deed on a whim, starting a chain.

— -- Kathleen Connors thought she was doing a simple good deed when she paid for a stranger’s breakfast at her local Vermont diner Saturday morning.

She continued with her day, taking a trip to Massachusetts to attend the memorial for her father’s passing and spending the night there before returning to Vermont in time for her nursing shift on Sunday night.

“Everyone was giving me kudos and high fives, and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Connors, 49, told ABC News. “They’re like, ‘We saw you on the news!’ I had no idea what they were talking about.”

Turns out Connors’ act of kindness was replicated another 45 times that day at L&M Diner in Barre, Vermont, causing fervor in the community and inspiring over 5,000 shares of the story on Facebook.

“It’s crazy! I didn’t think all this would happen,” Connors said.

It all started when she was having breakfast after winning $500 at bingo and decided to pick up a father and son’s tab on a whim.

“I just wanted to make someone’s day. I was having a feel-good moment,” she said. “I went up to the father and son to tell them and when I said it to the father he kind of looked around like, ‘Okay, is there a trick to this?’”

Connors left thinking that was the end of it, but it turns out the father and son decided to pay it forward to another table.

“They were in shock and they were like, ‘Well, we want to pay for somebody else then,’ and they picked another father and son in the corner,” Tayler Merriam, a server at the diner, told ABC News. “It started a huge chain of people from 7:30 in the morning until 2:10 in the afternoon.”

Thirty-nine tables kept it going for a total of 46 tables participating, with some people even paying for checks that would have been larger than their own.

“I had one table that it was a two-top and they said, ‘Here’s $50. Pay for however many tables you can cover and the rest is on the table,’” Merriam, 22, said. “Their tab would have been no more than $22, and they left a $10 tip. A lot of people ended up tipping for themselves and the table they were paying for.”

The inspiration has come full circle, making Connors feel “euphoric” after a tough year in which she lost her job and moved to Vermont to find work again as a nurse.

“One thing led to another to another. It’s a dominos effect,” she said. “Everyone’s calling and talking to each other. It’s just been nothing but euphoric. I was extremely euphoric.”