Waiter returns $424,000 check left behind by diner who didn’t tip

NEW YORK (WPIX/CNN) - A waiter was cleaning one of his tables when he found a cashier’s check containing the life savings of a customer who had stiffed him out of a tip.

The waiter could have chalked it up to karma, but he decided to do the right thing.

Armando Markaj has been a waiter at Patsy's Pizzeria in East Harlem for nine years.

Last Saturday, he was working when a woman came in for lunch. She seemed to enjoy the food, but when the bill came, she suddenly had an issue.

The woman was upset that the pizzeria’s photo wall didn’t have enough women on it, according to her.

Markaj didn’t quite know how to react, saying: “’Well, maybe women don’t eat pizza, summer is coming,' as a joke. I walked away, and she left a note saying, ‘Women don’t tip either.’”

The longtime waiter who was stiffed out of a tip just brushed it off and began cleaning the woman’s table when he noticed she left an envelope behind:

Inside was a cashier’s check for nearly a half a million dollars.

“...When I opened it, it said Citibank, and I figured it was something important,” Markaj said.

He brought the check to the store owner.

They, at first, waited for the woman to return to Patsy’s. When she didn’t, they tracked her down.

It took a few days, but eventually they were able to call her and let her know they had her check.

The sizable amount of money was her life savings that she was using to buy a home.

“She got here within 10, 15, 20 minutes. She was crying. She was like, like nervous,” said Frank Brija, owner of Patsy’s Pizzeria.

She apologized. The apology was accepted.

“She offered to tip me, but you know, what I did it for the sake of myself, so I’m not taking the tip now,” Markaj said.

The woman who lost the check said she regrets not tipping the waiter, but she is very grateful he did the right thing.

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