Lisa Mollet has received generous tips in her 15-plus years as a restaurant server, but never one of the four-wheel variety.
That changed last month when, instead of putting a few dollars under their soup bowl, a pair of Mollet's customers at the Empire Diner in Brooklawn, N.J., left her the keys to a car.
Mollet has been waiting tables at Empire for the past four years. Two of her regulars - Elizabeth "Lisa" Ayala and her boyfriend, Yeisont "Jason" Medina - have enjoyed her service so much, they decided to give her a 2006 Nissan Altima that they no longer need.
Now that is some tip.
"I had a lot of emotions going through at the time," Mollet said. "I was shocked and never had something like that happen. It was crazy."
Mollet, 37, lives with her son, Kingston, 8, and daughter, Brooklynn, 7, in nearby Gloucester City. She had been having major car troubles before the pandemic started, and she found herself having to walk or take a taxi to work.
"She was talking to my boyfriend one day that her car broke down, and that is when we came up with the idea of surprising her with a car," Ayala said. "We had an extra car and thought she could use it."
Could she ever.
The coronavirus led to Mollet losing her job for about three months, and she said it has been difficult to keep up with the bills.
"Being out of work, I was trying to make it day by day, and then something like this happens and it is a real blessing," she said.