Melina Salazar has worked at the Luby’s in Brownsville, Texas, for over 16 years. However, one customer, with whom she regularly interacted, just changed her life forever.
Walter ‘Buck’ Swords, a World War II veteran, was a regular customer at Luby’s and was notorious for being grumpy and bristly, especially when his food was not served at a steaming hot temperature. As Melina Salazar says, “He wanted the food very hot, it didn’t matter if he burned himself.”
Melina served him every day for seven years and was known as the only server in the restaurant who had the patience to deal with his picky habits and otherwise negative attitude. She says her patience enabled her to take care of him like any other customer, though his antics were dreaded by the other wait staff.
This summer, Walter passed away and Melina learned of his passing in the local obituary section of the paper. She grieved quietly, and moved on. Until a few days before Thanksgiving, she learned that she was the recipient of 50,000 dollars and a 2000 Buick – from Walter’s will.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m so nervous. I still can’t believe it,” she says. During his last days, Melina was the only person who interacted with Walter. She says to fellow servers out there, “Just smile and be nice.”
This story shows up that not only do we never know what someone else is going through, but we can also never truly know the heart of someone.
Follow Melina’s example every day and try to spread as much kindness and patience at every turn.
This post was originally published in November 2016.