Sunday 15 March 2015

Waiter gets $28,000 dental makeover, thanks to diner

Lawyer offers to foot bill to fix smiley waiter's rotting teeth just minutes after meeting him
By Melissa Sim, U.S. Correspondent In Washington, The Sunday Times, 15 Mar 2015

Four days before his 43rd birthday in January, waiter Brian Maixner received the largest tip of his life - US$20,000 (S$28,000) for a dental makeover to fix his rotting teeth.

Lawyer Fred Boettcher, 75, was having breakfast with his family at the Doo-Dah Diner in Wichita, Kansas where Mr Maixner works when he noticed his server's bad teeth.

"He smiled from ear to ear despite his teeth, but I can't describe how awful they were," said Mr Boettcher.

Within 10 minutes, he offered to pick up the tab to fix Mr Maixner's teeth.

Mr Maixner told The Sunday Times he had been struggling with dental problems for the last seven years and did not have the money or insurance to get them fixed.

Every three weeks or so, the pain from his infected teeth and gums would be so bad, he would have to stay home.

Then he would head back to work, putting on a brave smile for his customers.

Mr Boettcher recalled what happened the day he was at the restaurant and went up to owner Timirie Shibley and said: "I'd like to fix his teeth."

"She just started crying," said Mr Boettcher, who was visiting his daughters in the area.

Mrs Shibley hugged him, well aware of her employee's financial situation.

"I was so happy for him; he has such an infectious personality and is so hard-working," she said.

When she told Mr Maixner, he could hardly believe that a total stranger had offered to help him.

"I ran over and thanked him and I was all teary-eyed," said the divorced father of a 16-year-old boy.

Mr Boettcher said he had some idea of what Mr Maixner was going through because he had suffered a bad front tooth for many years.

"The cavity got larger and I would hold my mouth shut all the time. When I got it fixed, I was a different person," he said.

Mr Boettcher said he has helped other people with similar problems, sending them to his dentist and picking up the tab.

"I have a weakness for people with dental problems," he said, estimating that Mr Maixner's treatment would cost at least US$20,000.

Two weeks ago, Mr Maixner was fitted with a set of dentures and he will get implants in about nine months.

Mr Boettcher, who returned to the restaurant to see him, said: "He looks 20 years younger!"

The story of the waiter and his dental benefactor has been making news in the United States and abroad in recent days, after the restaurant reported what happened in a Facebook post.

Mr Maixner is smiling more than ever, now that he has a new set of pearly whites.

"It's pretty awesome," he said.

"It happened right before my birthday, I don't think I need any gifts for the next 10 years."

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