IHOP waiter hand feeds disabled, longtime patron who can no longer feed herself
Johann Thomas just plain likes people — of all kinds and all types.
The Illinois IHOP waiter also likes his customers and prides himself on remembering their orders and their limitations.
The couple from Rochester is no exception. She has been battling Huntington's disease for about the last seven years, Thomas says. He's witnessed her physical and mental declines.
She can no longer speak or chew very well.
So Thomas sits with her, mashes up her food, and spoons it into her mouth so her husband can eat his own meal without it getting cold.
Over the weekend, a diner at another table snapped a photo of 43-year-old Thomas doing what he regularly does, and posted it on Facebook.
Now he's internet famous.
"I didn't even know it happened," Thomas told InsideEdition.com Tuesday. "One of my co-workers said, 'Uh, have you looked on Facebook lately?'"
The post has garnered nearly 9,000 likes and the attention of media outlets across the country.
"My faith in humanity has been restored a little today," customer Keshia Dotson wrote in her message.
But for Thomas, it's all in a day's work.
"I've been serving them for years," he says of the husband and wife. He knows the husband's name is Dale, but doesn't know their last name. "The wife... I always call her 'mom' or 'baby.'"
He helps out, if he has time, whenever they come in, he said.
"She can't use a spoon and she really can't chew. What if that was my mom or my sister or my niece and they couldn't eat and everyone was just sitting around watching?"
The husband is always extremely grateful.
"I tell him it's nothing," Thomas said. "I tell him, 'Don't even worry about it.' It's just something I do."
He knows their orders by heart. He has two eggs over easy with two sausage links and a single pancake topped by another egg.
"He likes the egg on top of the butter on the pancake," Thomas says.
She enjoys two medium eggs, a bowl of fruit and applesauce.
"He drinks coffee, she drinks Pepsi. I put a top on her container so it doesn't spill when she picks it up," Thomas said.
He also remembers when they first came in — when she could walk and talk. "As the days and years went... the disease just started taking over more and more," Thomas said.
He enjoys helping her and her husband.
"I like it because I'm a people person," he said, laughing. "There are some people you want to choke, but you keep it to yourself."