Staking out a random act of kindness

When I found out, thanks to a helpful colleague, that Seth Collins’ country-wide mission to fulfill his deceased brother’s last request was coming to Chicago this week, I knew it would make a great, heartwarming story.

Seth Collins, 33, is leaving $500 tips for unsuspecting waiters and waitresses – at least one in every state-- to honor his younger brother, Aaron, who died last year and requested the gesture, verbatim, in his will.

I went with a cameraman and reporter from WGN to join Collins and a friend at Pequod’s on Thursday night to watch the deed go down. The WGN folks had gained permission -- and circumvented suspicion -- by telling the restaurant owner they were there doing a story about Seth Collins himself, and just wanted to interview him at his favorite pizza spot.

We watched Collins enjoy his deep dish pizza, served by waitress Vanessa Goldschmidt, who studiously avoided walking in front of the camera, to the reporters’ chagrin, when she could.

She had no idea that she, in fact, was the focus of the evening.

We watched her refill water glasses, carry away dirty plates, bring Collins and his guest their pitcher of beer.

When the time came for her to receive her stack of $20s, she shook. She clutched her chest. She hugged Collins.

“I want to cry,” she said, calling the gesture “amazing,” and thanking Collins repeatedly.

Will Seth Collins be in your city next? His whole itinerary is listed on his Facebook page chronicling his travels.

-- Michelle Manchir

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