Diner Leaves $1,000 Tip, Waiter Shares Unexpected Gift With Entire Staff

07/22/2014 07:07 pm ET | Updated Jul 28, 2014

A patron at an upstate New York restaurant left his server a generous tip -- and also offered his two cents in the form of a life lesson.

A diner who was celebrating his birthday at The Ginger Man in Albany, N.Y., last week tipped server Michael Shafts $1,000, along with the message, "Pay it forward. My birthday present to me!" ABC News reported. The tip was 10 times the amount of the entire bill.

And pay it forward he did. Shafts shared his gratuity with all the staff members who had worked that night.

The gift had come as a complete surprise. Shafts had just finished serving a couple celebrating the husband's 47th birthday when, on her way out, the woman stopped to talk to him. She told Shafts that her husband had done something very nice for him, according to Times Union.

"I shook his hand, I hugged him twice, and I said it was too much, twice," Shafts told the outlet. "He insisted, twice, that he wanted to do it, that it was legitimate."

The couple had dined at the restaurant before, but were not regulars. Shafts had never been their waiter before receiving the incredible tip.

"It was surreal. I was shaking." he told ABC. "I couldn't feel my legs."

Julie Byron, The Ginger Man's manager, told ABC that Shafts divvied up more than half of the money.

"When he returned to work on Saturday night, he had envelopes of money for all of the staff, both front-of-house and back-of-house that had been working with him on Wednesday night," she told the news outlet.

She said Shafts is a very hardworking person and that the decision to share the reward was not out of character for her employee.

"He’s honestly a great guy and it couldn’t have happened to a better person."

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