A Missouri teen has reaped the rewards of working hard and delivering quality service to his customers. While working his job at a local pizza shop in Independence, Missouri, the student received a $2,500 tip from a stranger who appreciated his strong work ethic.
Managers at the Independence Pizza Ranch hired Ryheem Lumpkins, 16, in the past month, and since being employed, he has done everything from manning the register, sweeping floors, and cleaning up the buffet area.
What makes the teen even more extraordinary is that he is differently abled. The one-man service machine, despite having physical challenges that his other co-workers don’t, works hard and maintains a courteous disposition, which impressed one customer.
One day, shortly after Lumpkins was hired, a customer named Robert Samay came in and made an order.
Samay marveled at how well-mannered and good-tempered the young pizza shop worker was. He said the William Chrisman High School student has a disposition that many people no longer have. After his order was complete, he slid the kid a $5 tip.
Reports note that the teen was so grateful for the tip that he could not help but express it.
According to KCTV, Samay and a friend returned to the Pizza Ranch on Tuesday, May 30, a month later, hoping to see the young man.
Without explanation, Samay’s friend started to peel off $2,500 in $50 bills. Reports say the unexpected gift caused Lumpkins to be moved to tears.
“To be honest, I was speechless. I never had anything in my life that had happened to me like that before,” the teen reflected.
Adding, “That right there showed me that there are more people in the world who really care for me.”
Samay had cameras come with him to deliver the surprise to Lumpkins and shared the reason why he came back to honor the student.
“I appreciate your hard work, your good smile, your good attitude. We don’t get that nowadays, especially with young kids,” Samay said to the teen.
He added, “You’re a good, good young man. I love you very much.”
These words of encouragement and the gesture were significant to the young man, born with a birth defect where his hands and arms never fully developed.
“I don’t describe it as a condition. God made me like this for a reason. I’m a regular person. I don’t think of it as a disability,” Lumpkins said when asked about his appendages. “It doesn’t prevent me from anything. If I feel like I can do it, I can do it.”
While Lumpkins does not need additional support and can do many tasks, including driving a car on his own, some differently-abled people cannot.
With the extra money, Lumpkins has big plans. He had been saving up his money since 2022 when he worked at a cleaning job. While he is not quite at the total amount, the gift moved him a lot closer to the milestone goal of getting his first car.
Until then, the young man shared that he had other dreams. One day he would like to use his life experience to motivate others, particularly those uncomfortable with physical differences.
He said, “Don’t ever hide it. Embrace what you have that’s different from other people. Because a lot of people think it’s cool and a lot of people wouldn’t think it’s cool. The negative words, don’t let them get to your head.”
“Because there’s a lot of positive in the world,” he offered to those struggling. “There’s more positive than negative.”
The hefty tip might seem like a lot, but Samay said he was moved to do something dramatic because of how special Lumpkins was.
“Money comes and goes. It is very rare to find someone like Ryheem,” the good Samaritan said.
In another heartwarming turn of events, a Waffle House worker known for his infectious joy and friendly service received overwhelming support after one of his favorite 8-year-old customers started a GoFundMe campaign in March to help him buy a car. The campaign quickly surpassed its initial goal of $5,000 and has raised over $120,000, demonstrating the incredible impact the worker has had on his community and how much he is cherished by those around him.