— -- It’s becoming more and more common to leave at least a 20 percent tip when dining out, but one man left his waitress a pretty unheard of gratuity: nearly 7,000 percent.
Mike from New York City left his server $3,000 on a bill for $43.50 last week.
“This woman had been serving us for almost a year now. She’s a lovely individual, and she talked about how she was served an eviction notice last month,” Mike, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News. "I just had also been constantly thinking about for quite some time my teacher’s project and this foundation, and I thought it was an appropriate time.”
The foundation he is referring to is “ReesSpecht Life,” a pay-it-forward movement started by his eighth grade science teacher Rich Specht after Specht’s 22-month-old son died in a tragic drowning accident.
In response to his death, Specht and his wife started a pay-it-forward foundation to thank everyone who helped them after their son Richard Edwin-Ehmer Specht’s (nicknamed Rees) funeral.
"We wanted to pay them back, and no one would take anything in return. We thought, ‘if no one will let us pay it back, we’ll pay it forward,’” Specht told ABC News.
He and his wife printed up business cards that encouraged others to pay it forward, initially ordering 5,000 cards. They’ve since distributed more than 100,000 cards worldwide.
"It keeps growing. People keep doing these things. We made our website and we get people to share their stories of what they’ve done,” he explained. “We unofficially call people who do things ‘Rees’ Pieces,’ and I get excited even when someone buys a coffee for someone else and shares it with us.”
Mike took his act a little further to honor his former teacher.
“I met Mr. Specht in eighth grade -- I was his science student – and he’s an incredible human being. To see something so horrible happen to him ... it doesn’t surprise me that he would start a foundation out of something so horrible that would juts continue to keep good around and to keep wonderful things going,” Mike said. “It was heartwrenching for me to see it happen. I had been trying to pay it forward and this was just a big opportunity for me to be able to honor someone that’s so wonderful.”
To help the waitress with her rent, Mike settled on $3,000 since Manhattan rents are so high.
“She really needed it and has been so happy since then, so I feel I did the right thing,” he said. “She said she was going to devote herself to the foundation and continue to pay it forward.”
It’s a scenario Specht and his wife never imagined when they started the foundation.
“All we ever want is to make a difference in the world. My son only had 22 months and didn’t really have a chance, and that’s all I wanted for him: to know he inspired someone he never met to do something,” Specht said. “I don’t know if there is a word that fits it because I can’t describe the feeling. It restores something that was missing."