All Courtney Pedigo wanted was a nice meal with her family at Olive Garden, but her 18-month-old daughter, Harlynn, was doing everything she could to make sure that wouldn’t happen. “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,” Courtney recalled. Exasperated, Courtney finally decided that she and Harlynn would finish their meals in the car while her father, stepmother, and some of her parents’ friends continued to eat in the restaurant.
But when Courtney flagged down their server, 22-year-old Nianni Rudder, to ask for a to-go box, she couldn’t believe the waitress’s response.
“She really said NO,” Courtney said.
Shocked, the tired single mom sat there in stunned silence while Nianni continued. “You’re going to go sit down and enjoy your dinner and I will be there to sit with her!” Nianni told her.
The kind-hearted waitress then fed Harlynn caramel ice cream while Courtney finished her meal in peace. Courtney was so touched by Nianni’s kindness that she wrote a heartfelt post about the experience on Facebook.
“Girl, you will never truly know how appreciative I am for tonight,” she wrote. “I seriously admire you.”
As for Nianni, she insists that what she did wasn’t that big of a deal. “I just didn’t want her to leave,” she told TODAY. “She came out to enjoy a meal with her family, and she should be able to do that. 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,” she added, “that’s just what they do.”
But for Courtney, that simple act of kindness is one she won’t soon forget. “[Nianni] is just an awesome person,” she 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.”
Nianni said she has a 3-year-old niece so she understands how difficult dealing with toddlers can be. When Courtney and Harlynn came in it was near the end of her shift and the restaurant wasn’t crowded, so she had time to sit and help.
“My managers are great,” Nianni said. “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.”