Hurricane Stories: Picking Up the Tab
A regular customer at Skip One Seafood treated visiting lineman to dinner.
Power trucks fill the parking lot of Skip One Seafood on Wednesday night.
Skip One Seafood in Fort Myers is divided up into three dining rooms. The regular and his wife watched a steady stream of linemen trek past their table in the front Wednesday night and disappear into the back.
The restaurant, founded by a local fisherman, had won favor among traveling power crews who’d been coming in in trios and quads for the past couple of days. This night, however, they entered en masse—27 of them in all, according to Beth Brodd, a manager who was working that shift.
The regular, a retired gentleman, pulled a server aside to ask what was going on. They were workers from Kentucky and Illinois, she told them, dispatched to Florida to turn the lights back on.
A copy of the receipt from the linemen's bill
Brodd, in her 12 years at the restaurant, has seen a lot of acts of generosity—people picking up other people’s tabs for one reason or another—but the regular’s offer floored her and everyone else that night. He insisted on paying for the linemen’s entire bill, plus tip.
“There’s almost 30 people, are you sure?” managers asked him. “Yes, I’m absolutely sure,” he responded.
The food bill: $845.51.
The tip: $211
The total: $1,056.51
The gentleman insisted on remaining anonymous. However, a server ultimately caved to the linemen’s nonstop cajoling to know their benefactor.
“They kept saying, ‘We’re gonna turn the power off and hold everyone hostage until someone confesses,’” Brodd said.
And when they learned his identity, they rushed his table to offer their thanks and to take pictures with the couple. “They treated him like a celebrity,” Brodd said.