A waitress at a North Carolina Waffle House got the surprise of her life last month when a customer on her overnight shift left her a $1,000 tip, but her joy quickly turned to disappointment when Waffle House forced her to return the money.

At 3 a.m. on Mother's Day, one of Shaina Brown's customers told her she had a "good spirit" and he was going to "bless her" by tipping $1,500 for his patty melt. He asked her to give $500 to a woman at another table, but $1,000 was hers to keep.

Unfortunately for Brown, the generous man left the tip on a credit card. Waffle House claims it has a policy of only accepting tips that large by cash or check, and that "regular procedure" is to refund the money to the customer to avoid chargebacks. The restaurant didn't let Brown keep the $1,000.

"I feel like they stole from me," Brown told the Charlotte Observer. "They did exactly what they teach us not to do."

All was not lost, though. Observer reporter Josh Shaffer tracked down the "angel" who left the tip, a Raleigh businessman who didn't want to be named, and told him what happened.

The man is now writing Brown a personal check, making sure she gets her tip after all—no thanks to Waffle House.

[H/T Thinkprogress, Photo: atmtx/Flickr]