When we want to show our gratitude to those serving our communities, a thank-you is often appreciated.
But when a thank-you comes in the form of a needed service or item, the gratitude is felt much more deeply. It doesn’t even have to be anything monumental, it’s all about timing and resources.
On March 23, trucker Justin Martin from Ontario, Canada, was passing through Ohio. When he stopped that evening in Circleville, the normally buzzing stop was a ghost town. Only a few other trucks were parked, and all the restaurants looked dead — except for one.
There was a Wendy’s with a few cars in the parking lot, so, left with no other choice, Martin decided to walk over and see if it was still open.
The dining room was closed. However, an employee did open the drive-thru window to talk to him and let him know they were closed and had just tossed all the leftover food.
Martin said thanks, and was most likely facing a night with no hot food. But the employee had a thought and told him to hang on a moment.
She went and got the manager, 19-year-old Zach Meadows. When Meadows heard about Martin’s plight, he went to speak to the trucker himself.
“We had actually been closed for about 5-10 minutes,” Meadows said, according to a blog post on the Ohio University, Chillicothe, website. “When I approached the window and began talking to the man, I found out that he was a truck driver. He asked if it was a problem because he hadn’t really eaten all day. I told him to give me a second and asked if he wanted something to drink.”
“He told me he wanted a small root beer, but I [gave] him a large since he’s on the road eight to nine hours a day,” he said. “I just wanted to do what I could to help. He tried to pay me, but I refused. I told him, ‘It’s free for us, so it should be free to you.'”
There was only one problem: Meadows was breaking the rules by giving Martin the food free of charge. But in that moment, he decided that helping out a trucker in these turbulent times was more important than following general rules. As he stated in one interview, “rules are rules, but sometimes being a good person just outweighs the consequences.”
Martin ended up with a variety of food and a large soda. Touched by the kindness of the Circleville Wendy’s, he filmed a video once he got back to his truck, explaining what had happened and publicly thanking the young manager and two employees.
“To me, Zach is the perfect example of an Ohioan — the bread and butter, blue collar people, who love their state and have a lot of pride in who they are when they represent their state,” Martin told Chillicothe. “Once this video got out, Ohioans were really proud of Zach. They were so proud that a truck driver got treated that way by one of their own and that’s exactly what Zach is — he is an Ohioan.”
“It’s all about Zach and his staff that night. The girl working the window went to get Zach [even] after she told me that she was sorry because they had already thrown out all the extra food. I was ready to walk away, but she told me to hold on a minute.”
“Even the other kid working the drink dispenser was adamant that I was going to have a soda, and I don’t even really drink soda,” he said. “It was just the fact that they wouldn’t let me go without one.”
The video started circulating, and it wasn’t long before it got back to Meadows. That meant his superiors saw it, too — but he didn’t get in trouble for his actions.
“When I woke up the next morning, I had all these text messages; people trying to call me, including the vice president of Wendy’s; all my fellow managers congratulating me,” he said. “It was humbling for sure. At noon the next day the video had about 75,000 views.”
“Truck drivers are working their tails off right now with the situation we’re dealing with,” he added. “It was just a little token of appreciation that went a long way, something I could do to make sure he was fed that night.”
“I don’t want to turn anyone away from not eating — no matter who they are or what they do — it’s something I would’ve done regardless of our situation.”
Martin hopes that all the attention his video is getting benefits Meadows, and Meadows hopes that more people will be inspired “to do nice things for the people around them.”
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