It’s not just the extra crispy recipe and the flaky, buttery biscuits that keeps Toronto man Jason Schweitzer, 39, returning to his KFC restaurant year after year. He and his mother have been weekly regulars at the franchise since he was five-years-old, where he befriended a KFC worker named Emilia.
Emilia, 70, has been working with the company for close to 50 years, starting in 1975, reports the Toronto Sun.
“When you grow up, and you recognize a face, it becomes a part of your mind-space…
I would always ask my mom ‘Is the funny lady there? Is the funny lady there?’”Jason Schweitzer
Emilia would give extra fries to her young friend, always being in a friendly, funny, hospitable demeanor. He shared that Emilia has no family or children of her own, and that she is originally from Portugal and didn’t speak English when she immigrated to the United States. She always encouraged him to get an education.
When Schweitzer recently witnessed an upset customer verbally berating his friend, he realized how difficult it must have been for her to work in the service industry for all the years she has.
“He was quite rude to her… I stepped back and minded my business, but I thought, ‘How could someone still be here working after all these years?’ You have to deal with the good people, the bad people and grumpy people…
She still stood there and smiled and wished the person a great day.”Jason Schweitzer
Witnessing this encounter motivated Schweitzer to give Emilia the recognition he felt she deserves. He started a GoFundMe fundraiser for her, hoping to offset the costs of transportation, PPE, and medical costs during COVID-19, as she has been working on the front lines. The fund has raised over $25,000, and Schweitzer can’t wait to surprise Emilia, planning to knock on her front door with the money.