Originally Published: February 5, 2014 9:08 p.m.
On September 10, 2013 a blind man walked into the Dairy Queen restaurant in Hopkins, Minnesota unaware that he was about to robbed.
Behind the counter was 19-year-old Joey Prusak. Joey was not a typical fast-food employee. He started working at the Dairy Queen when he was 13 years old. He was now a manager and going to college studying business. Joey had seen this customer before. The blind man was young and usually paid with a debit card. But this day he used cash.
It was lunchtime and the restaurant was busy. A line formed behind the man, but Joey had a reputation for being patient, helpful and efficient. He gave the blind man his food but noticed him struggling with his wallet. As the blind customer turned to make his way to a table he dropped a $20 bill.
Before Joey could say anything a woman, in her 50s or 60s, standing in line behind the man reached down and picked it up. Joey thought she would give the money back, but she stuffed it in her purse instead.
"I was kind of in shock," Joey said. "I was appalled by the situation."
Joey immediately told her to return the money, but she boldly pretended she had just dropped it.
"She looked at me and said, 'That's my money,'" Joey said.
Joey then did something that he did not report to the owner - -but the owner learned of his actions a few days later when another woman in the store that day sent an anonymous email. Here is the text of that email:
I was at your store on Sept 10th at around 1pm during lunch time. I was standing in line as one of your employees was serving a gentleman. I noticed that the man being served was blinded or at least partially blinded. As he turned away after being served by your employee, I noticed that he had dropped a $20 bill on the ground. He kept walking because he did not see that he had dropped it. An older lady in front of me picked up the bill and instead of telling the gentleman that he dropped it, she put it in her purse. She, as well as everyone else in the store, knew that it was dropped by the gentleman when he was struggling to find his pocket and put his change away. Before I could say something to her, your employee stepped in. He politely asked her to give the $20 bill back to the young man who was blind. She told your employee that it was her money and she dropped it. Your employee asked her again to return the money to its rightful owner. She declined to do so. He then asked her to leave the store as he would not serve someone as disrespectful as her. She got extremely angry and began to swear at your employee, he stayed calm and never gave her any attitude. He calmly asked her to leave the store again as he would not serve her if she wouldn't return the money to its rightful owner. The older woman then left the store, without returning the money. It was now my turn to order, your employee kept his cool and greeted me politely and apologized for the incident that had just taken place. I told him that he did the right thing and that I saw the blind man drop the money and it was not hers. After I received my order, I went and sat in the lobby, on the same side as the young man who dropped the money. Your employee then came into the lobby. What happened next I would have never expected. Your employee approached the young man and took out his wallet, and said "Sir on behalf of Dairy Queen, I would like to give you the $20 that you happened to drop on the ground as you walked away from the counter. I realize this is not the $20 bill you dropped because the older woman stole it, but it has the same face value." The gentleman began to thank your employee for taking his own personal money and giving it to the blind man. I was in shock by the generosity that your employee had, taking his own money out of his own wallet to give to the customer because some other lady decided to steal something that wasn't hers. As I was leaving, I went up and asked for your employee's name he told me it was Joey. So from a customer of your store and customer of DQ, I would proudly like to say that Joey has forever sealed my fate as a life long customer of the Main Street Dairy Queen. Thank you for outstanding customer service and for an even better experience.
Joey later explained that he had not told anyone what he had done, including the restaurant owner, because he just thought it was the right thing to do. But the owner wanted to do something to recognize Joey for his kind act, so he printed the email and taped it to a wall in the Dairy Queen. A customer shot a photo of the letter and posted it on social media. The letter went viral, being posted to Reddit and shared by bloggers across the country. Then local, state and national news agencies started reporting on Joey's act of kindness. Joey, who is normally very quiet and shy was overwhelmed by the response. He did not expect any attention nor did he want it, but millions of people were touched by what Joey did. He quietly took a stand for goodness with no other motive than his desire to right a wrong.
There is much evil in this world. Headlines of violence, thievery, scams and hate abound. But amidst all the dark actions of some people I believe there is still a great yearning for the light of virtue and integrity. I am grateful for the Joey Prusaks of the world who have the courage to take a stand for what is right.
Thank you Joey.