(Newser) – It’s not every day you get a 200% tip. For Hawaiian waitress Cayla Chandara, that was only the beginning. Chandara, 22, struck up a conversation with a friendly Australian couple last week at the Thai restaurant where she works in Waikiki. They got to talking and she mentioned her 80-hour work weeks, student loan, and how she could barely make ends meet. “I told them I moved here for school, but I was kind of in a little bit of debt and I couldn’t go back to school, because I couldn’t afford it,” Chandara tells KHON. The couple paid their $200 tab and left. Then Chandara got the surprise of her life: a $400 tip. Stunned, Chandara set out to find the generous customers.
“I never get tipped that big,” she says. “I had to say thank you.” The pair had mentioned where they were staying, so Chandara raced to their hotel. She followed up with a thank-you card, dessert, and flowers, and figured that was the end of it. Then the next day she got an even bigger surprise: the Aussies returned to the restaurant with an offer to pay off Chandara’s loans of more than $10,000. She declined at first but eventually accepted, reports the Honolulu Civil Beat. When she asked how she could ever thank them, they texted her, “be your best possible self dream big and strive for your goals.” That’s what Chandara plans to do when she goes back to study liberal arts and business. “I want to make them proud,” she says. “I will take this opportunity with an open heart.” (These dine-and-dashers owe $13,000.)