Not Going Anywhere
She just wanted to have a nice dinner out, but her daughter would have a tantrum and create an embarrassing spectacle in front of the entire restaurant.
What should have been an easy request for a meal to-go became a trending Facebook post. How could they refuse a single mother trying her best to make ends meet?
Courtney Pedigo didn’t know what she was going to do. She was in two minds about it. She felt like the family should be able to enjoy a dinner out, but she was worried about how her young daughter would act.
She didn’t want to dwell on a “what if.” Instead, she decided to take her family out to Olive Garden, but she didn’t know how the restaurant would act towards her and her daughter.
Being a mother was always something on the table for Courtney. She loved interacting with her little nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She never had to deal with their tantrums though, she’d just hand them back to their mother when that happened. She really loved kids but wasn’t ready for such a commitment yet. Then something surprising happened to her.
From the first time seeing her baby girl, she knew she would put everything into raising this child. She knew that whatever life had in store for her or her baby, she would succeed.
She didn’t need a man. All that made her happy was her daughter. She struggled for the first few months especially when her daughter was out of sight. But as she kept spending all her time with her baby, she realized she needed to go and hang out with some other people in her life.
Courtney arrived at the restaurant in North Carolina with her father, stepmother, their friends, and her baby daughter, who was already couldn’t sit still.
Courtney felt like she deserved to be able to enjoy a night out without having to worry about people staring at her daughter’s tantrums. She bravely walked inside the restaurant and was immediately greeted by a waitress. She thought their night would be a regular dinner. But she didn’t know that the night would bring a stir and would involve an employee at the restaurant.
As soon as Harlynn sat down in the high chair at the restaurant, she began screaming. Other patrons sitting around them cringed as they tried to finish their starters, while Harlynn’s screaming made Courtney very embarrassed.
She didn’t want to eat the food nor did she even want to sit still. Courtney decided to approach the waitress and ask for their food-to-go. This proved quite difficult with how busy the restaurant was at this time in the evening.
She eventually managed to get the waitress’s attention and asked for the food-to-go. She knew that her daughter was ruining the night for everyone.
She asked politely and thought it would be an easy request. But she was met with a reaction she never expected. How could she say that?
That’s A No
The waitress refused, simply saying “No.” How could she refuse the request of a struggling mother to get the food she paid for?
Courtney tried to be polite and understood the restaurant was quite busy and it might take a while for the waitress to get to her request. But to be told no in such a prestigious restaurant was beyond surprising. The server even had the nerve to say: “You’re going to go sit down and enjoy your dinner.”
Courtney tried to think of solutions and thought that maybe they could finish up their meals inside her car and if her daughter had any other tantrums, at least no other patrons would be worse off for it.
But if they were refused the right to take their food with them, they would go hungry. Why was it such an issue for the waitress to put their paid for meals in some boxes for them?
Should I Leave?
Courtney returned to the table astounded. She understood that bringing her daughter to the restaurant had caused a bit of a ruckus for the other patrons trying to enjoy their meals.
But at least let her take her food with her so they wouldn’t go hungry. She thought of speaking to the manager in charge, but how much longer did she want to linger in this restaurant.
Just then, Harlynn started to kick her heels against the table. Courtney knew something terrible was about to happen. Her face flushed with mortification as the other diners began to complain. She was all too aware that all eyes were firmly on the spectacle her daughter was making.
But now, she was also becoming angry. This wasn’t the first time she had endured terrible service because she had a disruptive child, but this was really just too much.
But before she could decide what to do next, their waitress finally made it over to the table. Courtney thought she might have changed her mind and had come to the table to collect their plates to pack their food up.
But the waitress once again refused them a to-go box so they could calm the baby down. And the frazzled mom was getting dangerously fed up with being treated so rudely.
Without batting an eye, 24-year-old Nianni Rudder restated: “You’re going to go sit down and enjoy your dinner.” Courtney’s eyes widened in disbelief. Was the waitress refusing to help her? This was completely unacceptable.
With Harlynn’s screeching scraping her nerves, she opened her mouth to give the waitress a piece of her mind. But Nianni wasn’t finished.
“You’re going to go sit down and enjoy your dinner and I will be there to sit with her!” Nianni told the frazzled mother. Courtney was lost for words. Harlynn wouldn’t sit for her mother, she was hardly going to do it for a complete stranger.
Courtney wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. She was sick of people staring and whispering. But Harlynn was smitten. She sat giggling away with Nianni. Courtney couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“I actually got to eat my food while it was still hot!” exclaimed Courtney in a now-viral Facebook post. And that’s not all she had to say.
“[Nianni] is just an awesome person,” Courtney said. “I was just in complete shock because nothing has ever happened to me like that. I just wanted to shine some light on the person she is.” How could someone who is already under so much stress from rush hour take the time to sit with her baby girl?
Nianni is no stranger to the mood swings of young children. Her niece has just graduated from the terrible-twos and has now been accepted into the terrifying-threes.
She knows how irritable children can get when they’re hungry, tired, grumpy, sad, happy, afraid, or confused. Her shift was nearly over anyway. And there was plenty of other staff on to help bustle tables. But what would her manager think of her taking a break?
“My managers are great,” Nianni explained.
“Our motto at Olive Garden is, ‘When you’re here, you’re family.’ If that’s all I had to do was sit down and take a couple moments to help this young lady with her baby, I’d do it every day if I could.” And Nianni’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
Courtney was so touched by Nianni’s gesture that she dedicated a Facebook post to the server and her kindness – accompanied by a sweet photo of Rudder feeding Harlynn ice-cream.
And after outlining the incident, Courtney went on to give Niannni considerable praise for her actions.
Courtney’s post on Facebook has gained thousands of likes and comments. The online community has raved about Nianni’s kind gesture.
Mothers, sisters, and aunts have shared their appreciation for understanding a mother’s plight. But was everyone in the restaurant that night as understanding?
“Girl, you will never truly know how appreciative I am for tonight,” gushed Courtney of her experience. “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!”
But as far as Nianni is concerned, she was just doing her job.
Nianni, who has a three-year-old niece, understood what Courtney was going through and felt like she deserved to stay where she was.
“She came out to enjoy a meal with her family, and she should be able to do that,” she told Today. “I didn’t think she had to leave or go sit in the car to eat the food because her baby was fussy. They’re little kids, that’s just what they do.” A little compassion can go a long way.