COLUMBUS, Ind. — Carey Likens can strike up a conversation with just about anyone.
Last week, she was working as a bartender at the Holiday Inn in Columbus when a man passing through on business sat down for a drink. The drink led to conversation and a big surprise.
“I was completely caught off guard,” Likens said. “(I) never thought that would happen to me.”
After the man paid his check and went on his way, Likens picked up the receipt and noticed the $64 dollar bill came with a $2,020 tip.
Lately, the 2020 tip challenge has become a popular trend, in which patrons tip their servers a bit extra to mark the New Year.
Celebrities, including Donnie Wahlberg, have left behind the massive tip and encouraged others to do the same.
“I kind of gasped,” Likens said. “I just never thought in a million years that I would get that in Columbus, Indiana, serving drinks at the Holiday Inn.”
Seeing the tears on Likens’ face as he walked away, the man turned around with a smile.
“It was my first day back, so it was a nice surprise,” Likens said.
Likens had been out sick recently, so the money was much appreciated. Her manager inputting the receipts the next day did a double-take.
“Yes and I was like what? No way,” said Holiday Inn General Manager Jessica Mettin. “I couldn’t believe it, but it’s true!”
The viral challenge has spread not only wealth, but also kindness.
“There are good people out there. They’re all over,” Likens said. “They’re walking among us, and you never know who’s going to do a huge gesture for you. So pay it forward and make sure to just be a good person.”
Likens said that if she ever sees the man again, she’d give him a big hug. Right now, she plans to save the money.