SUMTER, S.C. — One little girl in Sumter lost a tooth during lunch and got a special surprise. When Waffle House employees noticed she was nervous, they called on the tooth fairy to help out.
"I was kind of, like, crying in the bathroom 'cuz I was like a little bit scared," 7-year-old Millie James tells me. "Like I was scared if it was gonna hurt when I pulled it out."
When the first grader ordered a grilled cheese at lunch with her mom, brother and grandma, she didn’t expect to lose a tooth.
"I was like eating and then the back of the tooth wasn’t hanging on so I went in the bathroom with Mom and then I pulled it straight out," James explains.
James says she was scared it was going to hurt, but as soon as she came out of the bathroom, her server noticed — and made sure everyone else did too.
"I think I remember how it feels to be her age and lose teeth and like you want to show everybody like 'Oh my gosh,' you know?" server Virginia Joyce shares. "So I just wanted her to feel hyped up about it like I used to be."
Joyce, a high school senior, told her coworker Ricky, who put in a special call to the tooth fairy.
"We had no idea what he was doing but he just picks up his phone and he just starts talking to the tooth fairy like telling her all the information he could about Millie and explaining in detail how it happened, where it happened. What time it happened," Joyce remembers.
James’ mom, Anna, caught it all on video.
"It’s just refreshing, honestly, because I mean, you just don't see that very often these days. And so they were just so nice and they took time out of their day just to make a little 7-year-old's day which was so great," Anna says. "Just to show that there are still really good people in the world and good customer service here in Sumter."
"When she started smiling and stuff, it was really amazing for us here to have done that for her with help from the tooth fairy of course," Joyce smiles.
The tooth fairy instructed employees to help her out by giving James some money. With hundreds of likes, comments and shares, Sumter residents are taking notice.
"It took us totally by surprise. It wasn't something Ricky was doing for the attention. He's just being himself," manager Vanessa Clark details. "So I think that it went that viral that quick, it made him feel good but nervous at the same time. Like you don't plan to be Facebook, you know? But it was just Ricky being Ricky like at the end of the day, that's just his personality."
A personality that’s left James determined to come back.
"I felt so happy and I want to eat here again," James tells me. "If I have a wiggly tooth, I'll come straight here and eat!"
The celebration didn't only brighten James' mood, though.
"It really makes your day for sure," Joyce says. "Actually that day I had been having a hard day and she came in and just immediately brightened the whole place up and like sometimes that does happen more than once and it's really heartwarming to have somebody come in and just make your day or somebody tell you you're doing a good job so it's really nice to have the interaction."
Interactions with customers and between coworkers, building rapport through positivity, Clark shares.
"I think just having we're almost like a family here. We kind of…everyone you know you bump heads but you get along you work together and with just having that team feel encourages them all to kind of be themselves you know and want to do the extra because they want to do a good job," Clark says.