July 12, 2001 -- It's a dream come true for anyone who has ever waited on tables.
Colleen Gallagher, a Chicago cocktail waitress, received an $11,000 tip from a Massachusetts businessman after she had bared her soul to him about life's travails.
"This is a miracle, it's really a blessing," said the 26-year-old single mother of two. "I'm so thankful for him … [he] changed my life."
Callagher's guardian angel is John Boc, chief executive officer of Meridian Investments Inc. of Quincy, Mass., who struck up a conversation with the waitress at the Excaliber dance club in April. Gallagher told him she was struggling to make ends meet and find decent housing
Boc, who had gone to Chicago on business, initially told Gallagher to add a $1,000 tip as he paid his $60 bill with a credit card. Boc offered Gallagher the additional money, according to accounts, by pulling out a thick wad of credit cards and fanning them before her and telling her to "pick a card."
"I reached in and picked one," Gallagher told one newspaper. "It was a platinum Visa and he said, 'take that card and go give yourself $10,000. … Life's too short to be feeling blue.'"
Colleagues of Boc told the Boston Herald that he is known for his charity donations and has given large tips before, but the $11,000 tip was uncommon even by his standards.
Gallagher said she's put the money in the bank and that she intends to use it to take care of her sons, 6-year-old Daniel and 2-year-old Dillon.
It's not the first time a Chicago waitress has gotten an outsized gratuity. Last year, Melanie Uczen, a waitress at another of the city's night spots owned by Ala Carte Entertainment, took in a $10,000 tip on a $9 drink tab.
That time, the waitress almost lost the bonus when the English doctor who left it turned out to have exceeded his credit limit. The owner of the bar stepped in and offered to cover the amount.
ABCNEWS Radio contributed to this report.