Chili's of Kilgore bartender Justin Dykes was floored when a patron put a $1,000 tip on his ticket – then doubled it.

A tall, draft Bud Light with a shot of Jameson – it’s an order bartender Justin Dykes will never forget, thanks to the $2,000 tip his customer left behind.

“It’s one of those random things that just pops up in the movies. It’s one of those things you see on Facebook that just never happen,” the 35-year-old Chili’s barkeep says, still gobsmacked by the man’s generosity: “He said, ‘Just make sure you pass the good energy forward.’”

It hadn’t been a great day. Dykes’ spirit was a bit heavy, burdened by worries about making ends meet.

“I was getting a little behind on bills and things,” he said, putting in the hours to make a good life for his kids, a 4-year-old and 10-month-old. “I talked to my mom that day and she said, ‘It’ll be OK, God takes care of things.’”

He went to work that Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Kilgore’s Chili’s franchise where he’s worked just shy of 10 years.

“Toward the end of my shift that day, there was a guy that came in, ordered a beer and a shot.”

The bartender was straightening things up and visiting with his patron, Travis, between filling orders. Just casual conversation, he says, “Just some random guy from California, you know? He tipped me $100 on the first ticket – he wrote ‘Unexpected blessing, pay it forward – then started talking to me about things.”

Dykes opened up, giving the man insight into life, his joys and struggles. Travis, probably in his 30s, listened closely as he sipped his beer.

When Travis asked for the second ticket – another draft Bud, another shot of whiskey – the business traveler put $1,000 on the tip line.

“After he talked to me some more, he changed the $1,000 to $2,000. He was gone the next day. He was already headed back home. Just kind of passing through.”

Yeah, Dykes says, it helps, a lot – a whole lot.

He’s never see anything like it, and the bartender says he’s taking the man’s words to heart.

“Keep giving that good energy to other people,” he said Tuesday. “You never know how it’s going to affect somebody. I probably agree with that.”


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