"You've got to be kidding me ... I can't believe it, oh my God."
That's how Cindi Grady, a Cracker Barrel waitress in Branson, Missouri, reacted recently after two restaurant patrons gave her an unexpectedly hefty tip: a car.
According to KARK-TV, Gary Tackett and his wife, Roxann -- an Arkansas couple that, since this summer, has been frequenting the Cracker Barrel restaurant where Grady works -- decided to buy a car for the waitress after they spotted her old and battered vehicle in the restaurant's parking lot.
"I thought it was abandoned actually, it was in such bad shape," Tackett told KOLR of Grady's old car, which had been badly dinged and dented after several accidents involving deer. "I talked with my wife about it, and I said, 'Something has to be done.'"
And so, over Thanksgiving weekend, Tackett and his wife organized a wonderful Christmas surprise for Grady. After eating at Cracker Barrel on Saturday morning, where Grady herself was their waitress again, the couple headed outside to the parking lot and waited for the waitress to emerge.
"My boss had told me to have someone else deliver the drinks on my tray and follow her. She never does this during breakfast rush on a Saturday morning so I thought I was in trouble," Grady told The Huffington Post in an email Monday. "When she led me outside instead of to the office, I was thinking, 'Oh boy, it must be really bad if she can't even do it in the restaurant.'"
When she got outside, however, Grady spotted Tackett and his wife standing near a silver 2008 Ford Fusion which had "a big red bow on it." It began dawning on her then that perhaps she wasn't in trouble after all.
"We've been watching you drive that [old] car all summer," Tackett told Grady in a video posted to Facebook by his daughter of the big reveal. "We decided that you needed something better ... Merry Christmas."
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Grady, who has a son with disabilities, told The Huffington Post that she was "totally surprised" by the Tacketts' gift -- which she told KARK-TV was "the best tip ever, bar none."
"I hadn't the faintest clue" the gift was coming, she said.
The waitress added that she'd been meaning to replace her old car, but money had been a barrier. "I never dreamed I would own something this nice," Grady wrote in her email.
"God says we are supposed to love one another and help each other out, but I have never experienced that love from total strangers," she added. "I hope someday to 'pay it forward' and maybe I can show someone else, who is feeling all alone, what it's like to feel a stranger's love."