Dairy Queen employee's good deed attracts widespread attention

  • Article by: AMY FORLITI , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 19, 2013 - 6:22 PM
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In this screen grab provided by WCCO TV is Dairy Queen employee Joey Prusak in Hopkins, Minn. Prusak is winning praise for his treatment of a visually impaired customer who unwittingly dropped a $20 bill on the floor. After another customer pocketed the bill, Prusak asked her to return it, and when she didn't, told her to leave the store. He then gave the visually impaired customer $20 from his own wallet.

Joey Prusak was appalled when he saw a customer at the Hopkins Dairy Queen pick up someone else’s $20 bill and slip it into her purse.

So when the woman got up to the counter to order, Prusak refused to serve her unless she returned the money. When the woman refused, the 19-year-old store manager went a step further: He gave $20 out of his own pocket to the visually impaired customer who hadn’t realized he’d dropped the money.

“I was just doing what I thought was right,” Prusak said Thursday as he recalled the incident from earlier this month. “I did it without even really thinking about it. ... Ninety-nine out of 100 people would’ve done the same thing as me.”

Prusak has received loads of praise since a customer’s email about him to Dairy Queen was posted online.

Now, people are calling the store, thanking Prusak and even offering him jobs. Customer traffic at the store has doubled, and many people are leaving large tips — money that Prusak says he will donate to charity.

Prusak said he even got a call Thursday from billionaire Warren Buffett, whose company owns Dairy Queen. “He called and thanked me for being a role model for all the other employees and people in general,” Prusak said.

Prusak has worked at the Hopkins DQ since he was 14. He’s trying to save money to go to school for business management and has managed the store since spring.

The visually impaired customer who dropped the money during the Sept. 10 lunch rush was a regular. Prusak said he thought the woman who picked up the $20 bill would return it. Instead, she looked at the man, then put the cash in her purse.

“I was appalled,” Prusak said. “I didn’t know what to do or say.”

Prusak thought for a moment, and when the woman approached the window, he asked her to return the money. But she claimed it was hers. The conversation went back and forth. Finally, Prusak recalled, he told the woman: “Please return the $20 or get out of the store, because I’m not going to serve someone as disrespectful as you.”

Prusak said the woman stormed out. After serving the other customers, he went over to the man eating his sundae and gave him $20. Prusak didn’t tell anyone about it, other than the other employee in the store.

But a customer who saw the incident sent an email to Dairy Queen. The email was forwarded to store owner Dave Pettit, who posted it at the store.

Dean Peters, a spokesman for International Dairy Queen, said the company is figuring out how to reward Prusak.

Prusak said when he saw what happened, he just couldn’t keep quiet.“I was going to say something no matter what,” he said. “If she would have returned the money, then I would have served her.” 

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