24-year-old Courtney Pedigo of Greensboro, North Carolina, was facing a particularly trying night as a parent. Like most parents of infants and toddlers, Pedigo wanted the forgotten luxury of a hot meal eaten while it was still hot.
But her toddler had other plans.
Visiting her local Olive Garden with her daughter, Harlynn, Pedigo found her 18-month-old was vastly uninterested in sitting still. After struggling to keep her child ruly, Pedigo was just about ready to throw in the towel.
But an employee from Olive Garden stepped in.
Pedigo remembered what it was like trying to contain Harlynn in a Facebook post about the evening:
“Tonight my family and I went out to Olive Garden for dinner, and per Harlynn’s usual she did everything but sit in her high chair and eat her dinner like I picture in my dreams.”
“She had me so overwhelmed from letting all of Olive Garden know she was in the house and trying her best to wiggle her way down me to run the restaurant…”
But, to Pedigo’s surprise, her waitress had other plans:
“I had went to find our waitress to ask if she could please bring my food out in a Togo box cause we were going out to sit in the car….”
“She really said NO ?”
The waitress, Nianni Rudder, went out of her way to make sure Courtney was able to enjoy her meal.
“’You’re going to go sit down and enjoy your dinner and I will be there to sit with her!’ And that’s exactly what she did!”
“She brought Harlynn a bowl of ice cream with caramel syrup and even though harlynn wouldn’t let her hold her, she sat there in my lap and let Nianni Nani Rudder feed her while I ACTUALLY GOT TO EAT MY FOOD WHILE IT WAS STILL HOTT!!!!!”
Here is Pedigo’s original post.
Tonight my family and I went out to Olive Garden for dinner, and per Harlynn’s usual she did everything but sit in her...Posted by Courtney Ruth Pedigo on Monday, October 1, 2018
People online really appreciated Rudder’s efforts.
Rudder’s helpfulness made a real difference in Pedigo’s life.
“…you will never truly know how appreciative I am for tonight. I seriously admire you, Not only because you took the time to bribe my bratty little human with sweets so I could eat but because you are so so strong!”
“I know your Mom is looking down from Heaven with the BIGGEST smile and so incredibly proud of the woman you are. I aspire to be the go getter you are and like I told my dad on our way home it has to take someone with a strong heart and mind to do what you do bc I know I couldn’t!”
“Thank you for your amazing service and for being so kind to us all!”
Rudder posted a response to Pedigo’s post, making sure people took the right message away from the story.
I didn't intend on going "viral", I didn't help my guest to go "viral." I did what I would want for someone to do for me...Posted by Nianni Nani Rudder on Thursday, October 4, 2018
People online were inspired by Rudder and Pedigo’s interaction.
Humanity is still alive....— Sudeshna (@Sudeshnasadda) October 5, 2018
That was really nice of her!— Mary Stupen (@MaryStupen) October 5, 2018
One Olive Garden slogan was “when you’re here, you’re family” and Rudder certainly demonstrated that philosophy.
I hope she got a fantastic tip!— sarah (@gryffon57) October 5, 2018
People were happy to see someone go the extra step to help someone out.
Awesome!!! Still some real decent people in this country!!!— M. E. St. T. Rogers (@Minkah7) October 5, 2018
Pedigo says she later got word from Olive Garden’s corporate office that Rudder would receive a silver star for her superior service.
She truly deserves it!