Late last Saturday night, Ethan Crispo had just left a friend's birthday party in Birmingham, Alabama, and went into a waffle house around midnight to grab a snack.
Crispo told CNN that only a single employee worked in the restaurant.
He described the chef's face as "engrossed in confusion" when he found out that he himself controlled the night shift.
More than 30 people were there eating, and there was only one man left to "stave off the incoming audience of hungry, highly impressed customers," Crispo said.
He was terminated to go home on an empty stomach.
But one customer finished the meal, asked for an apron and went behind the counter to wash the dishes.
"It was a smooth transition," said Crispo, 24. "He just brushed his butt and helped."
& # 39; It was one of my most memorable experiences & # 39;
Crispo said he asked Ben, the lone colleague who worked, who the man who washes the dishes.
Shows that he didn't work at the restaurant, nor did he work at a waffle house anywhere.
Another woman, who was wearing a dress and heels, also went up. She went behind the counter to get a coffee pot.
"At first, I thought it was necessary, like she just wanted coffee," Crispo said. But she enlisted as another member of the volunteer staff.
The two worked together in a team, busing tables, stacking cups and washing the dishes. Meanwhile, Ben, the actual staff, staffed the cash register and cooked at the grill.
The man who washes dishes sometimes "had to ask Ben where things were going," Crispo said, but otherwise it was as if two strangers, without talking to each other, had spontaneously learned to run a restaurant in tandem.
Pat Warner, a spokesman for Waffle House, told CNN that the store had miscommunicated the watchlist that night, and it had created "a little gap" in staffing.
"We are very grateful and grateful, but we prefer to have our colleagues behind the counter," Warner said.
He added that restaurants in Waffle House have a special sense of community. He recalled a similar time in 2014 when the gangs volunteered to keep a restaurant operational when paid staff couldn't get to work during Atlanta's infamous Snowmageddon storm.
But for Crispo it was the first time, and it will stick to him for many years to come, as an example of humanity at its best.
"I've never seen anything like it ever happen, nor will I again," Crispo said. "It was one of my most memorable experiences."