It’s a tradition that the servers at the restaurant not only sing to people celebrating their birthday, they have the guests of honor sit in a saddle. “He loves animals so he was so excited about getting to sit on this and [have] all the attention on him,” Dixon said of her son.
A waitress named Kathryn Marasco realized it was Octavius’ birthday, and that he was hearing impaired. “I’m sitting there and I’m watching from a distance and the mom is signing to the little boy, which I noticed he had his hearing aids,” Marasco said.
She asked her fellow server, Brandie White, if she knew how to say “happy birthday,” in sign language. White didn’t, but she wanted to help Octavius too. White, who is studying Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at Middle Tennessee State University, pulled up YouTube on her phone to learn a special phrase for the birthday boy.
They looked up how to say “happy birthday” in American Sign Language, and quickly got all the steps down. Then, the servers went up to Octavius’ table to show him what they had learned.
“Happy birthday to you,” the waitresses signed. Octavius and his mom were very impressed. Not only had the waitresses acknowledged the 4-year-old’s birthday, they took the time to celebrate it in a way that was special to him.
Dixon said the surprise from Marasco and White made her very emotional. “Everybody thinks we’re crazy when we’re out talking and we’re signing. So it’s really important to me that someone noticed that and picked up on that and made that special just for him, my baby,” Dixon said.
White said it’s important to her to make restaurant patrons feel welcome. “As a server, I want you to be able to come in, I want [you] to be like, ‘Oh this is my home, I belong here,'” she told WTVF.
Octavius’ mother said this was his first time signing with people other than herself and his teacher. It was a simple phrase but an enormous gesture to Octavius. Thanks to the two kind waitresses, his fourth birthday is one he and his mom will remember for a lifetime.