I'll start with this one. 47-year-old Shirley Ratliff works at a Bruegger's Bagels in North Raleigh, N.C. She's worked there since 2006. She has never driven, though knows how to drive, and didn't have enough money to buy a car, so she has taken three buses every day to get to her job. And another three to get home. She opens the shop at 5 a.m. so you can imagine at what hour she needs to get up to get there on time. She had been saving up for a car, but then was hit with cervical cancer a few years back, so there went her plans to purchase an auto.
Step in a bunch of customers, and Shirley now has a car. Nothing extravagant. An old car with 88,000 miles, but it's wheels.
A group of loyal customers – they call themselves “Shirley’s Fan Club” – gave Ratliff a 1992 Buick LeSabre on Monday. They said they wanted to show their appreciation for the countless bagels and cups of coffee she has served them over the years and to ease her burden a bit.
Ratliff, 47, has has been working at Bruegger’s since 2006. She had tried to save money for a car, but she was diagnosed with cervical cancer a few years ago and experienced a financial setback. She had insurance, but treatment was still expensive.
“I’ve never had a whole lot of money anyway, and every now and then something happens,” she said.
At Thanksgiving, she had to spend time in the hospital because of complications from diabetes.
“This is the best Christmas present ever,” Ratliff said to the group of about 20 people who gathered to present her with the car. “All my friends are here, and I see that now. I knew it before, but now I really know.”
The idea for the gift was spearheaded by David Burton, a local dentist and regular customer who managed to get it together in 2 days.. They also gave her a gasoline gift card, along with the bow-wrapped vehicle.
He bought the car for $1,500 from a co-worker Friday, then collected money from fellow customers over the weekend. They gave him more than enough to cover the cost of the vehicle.
“When I asked for people to contribute, they didn’t even blink,” Burton said.
Most of Ratliff’s customers knew about her daily bus journey. After her shift ends, she takes three buses to get home.
To avoid taking multiple buses, she walks a mile from Bruegger’s to Creedmoor Road. The longer route means she has to take a bus to downtown Raleigh, then get on another bus to go home, which is on Duraleigh and Edwards Mill roads.
Ratliff, is one of those people who just seems grateful to be alive.
“I just love people, and I’ve been here so long,” Ratliff said of her job. “It’s just like ‘Cheers.’ I’m so happy to be at work.”
“I really didn’t mind riding the bus, I met a lot of people on the bus." “It never bothered me except when it rained or when it was really cold outside.”And obviously has a wonderful effect on those she encounters daily, that make them willing to help out.
When she was getting treatment for her cancer, Ratliff said friends took care of getting her to and from UNC-Chapel Hill. They also made sure she got to WakeMed for surgery. On days with bad weather, some of the same customers who helped buy her car will drive her from Bruegger’s to the bus stop on Creedmoor Road.Good things happen to good people. I might take a little time, but happy for Shirley.
Customer Craig Boyd said Ratliff is special to so many people who see her every day.
“She’s Shirley,” Boyd said. “She takes care of us and always has a smile.”
Here's the video of Shirley's reaction to receiving her new car on December 22, 2014.
Source: News Observer