A hairstylist at a Denver barbershop received a $2,500 tip and $3,300 more for her coworkers from a new customer hoping to do his part amid the coronavirus crisis.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, stopped by a Floyd's 99 Barbershop Saturday afternoon, just as Ilisia Novotny was about to put her clippers away after a long day.
"I had 15 minutes left in my shift, and he walked up and asked if I could squeeze him in," Novotny said. "I know how many people are desperate for a haircut right now so I didn't mind."
Novotny, 32, began snipping away when the man asked how she and the other hairstylists were getting by amid state-mandated business shutdowns due to COVID-19. Floyd's 99 had been closed for business since March 18. Saturday was the first day the barbershop was allowed to reopen as Colorado begins to ease its social distancing restrictions.
"I finished up and he goes, 'Just so you know, the tip is not a mistake," Novotny said. "I didn't know what he was talking about until I went over to find the receipt."
When Novotny looked down, she could hardly believe her eyes: $2,500, in addition to the $27 haircut.
"I was just in complete shock. This came at a crucial time for me," the single mom explained. "He didn't want to make a big show of it, but it's truly a blessing, and I have so much appreciation. I still can't believe it."
But the generous tipster didn't stop there. He handed the barbershop's receptionist $500 and $1,000 to the general manager on his way out, before doubling back to ask how many people worked at the shop. He then doled out an additional $1,800 -- $100 for each of the shop's 18 other employees.
"For him to come back and give out such generous tips to all my colleagues really just left me speechless," Novotny said. "I can't even tell you how much this means to us all."
It's a welcome gesture as workers in the service industry continue to face furloughs and layoffs across the country. According to the latest jobs report from business analytics firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. at least 73,000 service sector workers have lost their jobs in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
For Novotny, she plans to use the tip to pay rent and help her hearing-impaired son get the treatment he needs.