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Chick-fil-A employee happily climbs down storm drain to save customer's phone

TODAY logo TODAY 4 days ago Erica Chayes Wida
a sign on the side of a building: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © Shauna Hall/ Facebook / Getty Images TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site

There's nothing that could possibly soften the blow of dropping a phone down a storm drain. That is, unless a brave Chick-fil-A employee climbs underground to retrieve it ... and then gives you a hug.

In addition to being a source of crispy chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A also has a reputation for employees that go above and beyond. From a manager going above and beyond his call of duty to fix a WWII veteran's flat tire to the staff member manning the drive-thru window holding onto a customer's forgotten change, the good deeds are as excessive as the lines at lunch. It's no wonder it's earned the title of America's favorite fast-food chain.

The most recent instance of exceeding customers' expectations occurred at a Chick-fil-A in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Oct. 1 when Shauna Hall entered the restaurant in a panic after dropping her phone. Hall, who posted her experience on Facebook later that day, said she'd dropped her phone taking her son out of the van, only to watch it bounce right into the storm drain. After failing to see or reach it herself, Hall went into the restaurant to request help.

Turns out, she came to the right place.

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"She was nearly in tears when she came in and she was asking for a manager to help," Seth Ratliffe, the employee who rescued Hall's phone from a manhole, told TODAY Food. "Compassion just took over and I just wanted to help."

Ratliff got on the ground by the grate and used a grab-stick mirror to look for the phone. He quickly realized the phone had gone through the drainage gate and down into the "dark abyss" under the street. Meanwhile, Hall and her son went to eat in the restaurant (they were hungry!). Going far beyond his job requirements, Seth reimbursed family for their meal and called the county for help getting the phone; according to Hall, they hung up.

Hall began accepting defeat, but not Ratliff.

"I wasn't going to stop until I got her phone back. She was so upset seeing as her whole life was on that phone," Ratliffe told TODAY. "I'm a follower of Christ and I just wanted to do the right thing."

That's when Ratliff and Hall noticed the manhole cover was not bolted down. Perhaps it was a way in!

"After trying to reach it with his grab-stick, then dropping his stick, he tells me it’s a manhole for a reason and he is going down," Hall said.

Ratliff, who has worked with Chick-fil-A since 2012, on and off through college, and now handles the franchise's digital marketing and events, said it wasn't scary.

"[The manhole] wasn't even six feet deep. In the photo, I was standing on a concrete floor on bottom and the hole to the side was so small, not even my Yorkie Poo would have fit through. There was no perceived danger. It all just happened in the moment," Ratliff told TODAY.

a man holding a sign posing for the camera: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © Seth Ratliff TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site

After braving the underworld beneath the streets of Fredericksburg, Ratliff emerged victorious, returning Hall's phone to her unharmed.

"I was so thankful I freaking hugged him," Hall said. "Not only did he slice his finger and was filthy from laying on the ground and climbing in the hole, I find out he had actually just gotten off shift and was still willing to help me," Hall said.

Now that's some next-level customer service.


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