A customer at a McDonalds in suburban Atlanta stepped in to help an employee after she saw the employee being attacked at the drive-thru window.
Feroza Syed, a real estate broker in the Atlanta area, first shared the story of the incident, which happened on Dec. 4, on Facebook, writing, "At drive-thru, guy in front of me threw a soda at the woman b/c it wasn't what he wanted."
Syed told TODAY she couldn't believe her eyes when she saw that the man had "flung" his drink at the employee, whose name is Bryanna. "She was crying and covered in ice and soda and syrup. It was so obnoxious to me that I couldn't even figure out what was happening," she said.
"I've never seen anyone behave that way, and I used to work in food services, but especially to do that with everything that's going on was just awful," she added.
When Syed pulled up to the drive-thru, she gave a cash tip to Bryanna, and offered to contact police. When Syed later returned to McDonald's to share the angry man's license plate number, she noticed Bryanna was pregnant. Before long, Syed had set up an online fundraiser and a baby registry for Bryanna.
"I thought, let me do something nice for her. When I walked in the first time, she was covered in syrup all over her shoes, pants, and shirt, so I assumed maybe I could raise $300 or $400 for her to buy something nice or get her hair done or something, but by 24 hours later people had donated $1,700," she said.
Syed shared several photos of herself and her "new friend B." on Facebook after donations began pouring in from all over.
"She's just obviously going crazy with joy. We've become friends through this, and it's just insane to see such love and joy and happiness," said Syed, who noted that Bryanna has been forced to take time off from work as the incident is being investigated.
In one photo, Bryanna is seen holding a wad of $100 dollar bills.
"I joked with her that hopefully one day you'll own the McDonald's," quipped Syed.
In another photo, an emotional Bryanna holds her head in her hands after reading a card emblazoned with the message "We care about you."
In her Facebook post, Syed wrote, "When we talk about how to give back to our essential workers who put their lives on the line, feeding, housing, shopping, and providing healthcare for us remember that anyone can do what I did. A majority of our donations were under $25, $10 and $5. Every bit adds up and COVID has stressed many of our essential workers to a breaking point."
Though many feel-good comments on Syed's post congratulate her for her good deed, Syed said the focus shouldn't be on her.
"It's a complicated issue because you're trying to help somebody. A lot of the comments were problematic, saying 'you changed this person's life.' I did not. It's a couple months' worth of rent in Atlanta, it's not changing someone's life," she told TODAY.
"The purpose was to shift the focus to Bryanna and make sure she was taken care of," she continued.
At the end of the day, Syed and other donors were simply trying to add a little cheer to Bryanna's life.
"I don't want the misconception that she needed it. It was something we did out of the kindness of our heart to make somebody have a good day after a bad situation."