After a night of drinking, South Carolina man Alex Bowen couldn't sleep and decided to get something to eat early Thursday. The Waffle House in West Columbia, S.C., fit the bill, so he stepped inside and waited 10 minutes at the register, but nobody attended to him, he tells local news station WIS-TV.
That was when he realized there was an employee there, the worker just happened to be fast asleep in a corner booth. And Bowen didn't waffle.
"They looked tired," Bowen tells WOLO-TV, an ABC affiliate in Columbia. "I was like, 'go ahead and rest fam, I got this.' "
A series of selfies posted to his Facebook page chronicle what Bowen did next: He went behind the counter and got to work on his own meal.
Apparently a Waffle House regular, he knew just what he wanted and what went into it.
"Got hot on the grill with a double Texas bacon cheesesteak melt with extra pickles," Bowen tells WIS-TV. "When I was done I cleaned the grill, collected my ill-gotten sandwich and rolled on out."
Bowen admits he wouldn't have been so brazen if not for the vodka. And while he didn't initially leave money for the food, he returned later that day to deliver $5, WIS-TV reports.
Waffle House released a statement to the station saying the sleeping employee has been suspended for one week.
Waffle House, a popular chain throughout the southern United States, prides itself on remaining open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its service is, in fact, so reliable that emergency officials have reportedly developed something called The Waffle House Index, which measures the severity of a storm based on whether Waffle House stays open; if one shuts down — that's when you know things are bad.
Bowen, an Army veteran who now works as a flooring installer, tells WOLO-TV he never expected the Facebook post of his escapade to go viral (it had more than 5,000 shares on Tuesday).
"I'm a bit overwhelmed with calls, and emails and messages," he says.
Even Waffle House is reaching out.
While the company did say customers should never go behind the counter for safety reasons, it's not holding it against Bowen.
"Obviously Alex has some cooking skills, and we'd like to talk to him about a job since we may have something for him," Waffle House said.