In 2014, Cindi Grady was working as a waitress at the Cracker Barrel in Branson, Missouri. She had a good reputation in the restaurant and got to know many of the regular patrons—enough that they knew Grady wasn’t in the greatest place in life.
In addition to the long waitressing shifts, she was raising a young disabled child at home. Despite her friendly demeanor with her customers, deep down Grady was beginning to feel hopeless.
“I was in a spot where I was depressed,” Grady told KOLR. “Just feeling like nobody cares.”
It didn’t help that Grady was driving around in a laughably decrepit Hyundai Accent.
Getting a replacement car was understandably not a high priority for Grady. For her, the car was just enough to get where she needed to.
“It runs pretty good,” Grady told KOLR. “The cosmetic stuff is falling apart. The deer really got to it.”
But her customers were shocked to find out that she—or anyone, really—was actually driving that car.
“It was almost like someone had abandoned the car,” a customer named Roxann Tackett told ABC News. “You just notice things like that.”
Roxann and her husband Gary would visit the Cracker Barrel from Arkansas. They were surprised that, trip after trip, the same car was always there.
They finally asked the manager about the car—and were shocked to hear it belonged to Grady. They knew they had to help.
“I talked with my wife about it,” Gary Tackett recalled to KOLR.
“And I said, ‘something has to be done.'”
Later in early December of that year, the Tacketts returned with some other regulars, and Grady was happy to serve them when they requested her specifically.
“I had a great time waiting on them,” Grady wrote in a Facebook post, according to KARK.
When they were finished, she was pleasantly surprised to find they had left her a 30% tip.
But her good mood didn’t last long: Her manager asked to see her immediately. Grady was concerned.
“I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what I had done to warrant a conference with management,” she wrote.
She stepped outside—and was surprised to see her customers there waiting for her.
Grady didn’t know why the Tacketts wanted to see her.
“We’ve been watching you drive that car all summer,” Gary Tackett tells her, getting a laugh from Grady.
“And we decided you needed something a little bit better.”
Tackett walked Grady over to the parking lot—where she suddenly realized what was happening.
They bought her a car!
The Tacketts had spent $2,500 out of their own pockets to buy Grady, almost a stranger, a 2008 Ford Fusion.
“It’s not new, but it’s new to you,” Tackett tells her in a video recorded by his daughter.
Grady wasn’t complaining.
“I was totally shocked,” she told ABC News. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that someone would ever give me a car that nice.”
It was a true random act of kindness. But the Tacketts knew they had to help—they knew everything Grady had been through and couldn’t stand to see her driving that old car anymore. And, with Christmas approaching, they were in the giving spirit.
“It’s all about what’s in your heart,” Tackett told KOLR.
“I know Cindi said it was her best Christmas ever, and I can assure you it’s ours.”
And it was a life-changing experience for Grady: not only did she finally have a dependable car, she knew that people cared about her, after all.
“It restored my faith in humanity,” Grady told KOLR.
“There are good people in this world that are watching. And you may not even know them.”
Good people who made sure Grady gets around in style.
“It’s nice knowing when I wake up that I don’t need to worry about my car not starting,” she told ABC News.