Gary Phillips visited his local Dunkin’ Donuts enough that the employees memorized his favorite order (a Coolatta with five extra pumps of vanilla). But being a regular didn’t just save him time—it saved his life.
Phillips had gotten to know some of the workers during his daily visits. He’d shared details like when his wife passed away and the date of his birthday. In fact, the Dunkin’ employees even planned an early celebration for his 73rd birthday, with a cake two days before the big day.
When Phillips didn’t show up one week, employees Megan Schriner, 18, and Danielle Hastings, 27, took notice. But when the day of his birthday celebration rolled around and he was still nowhere to be seen, the worry set in. “We knew something was wrong,” Schriner told Salem News. “We kept telling him, ‘Remember you’ve got to be here Thursday for your birthday.’”
Hastings had the day off but was planning to stop in to Dunkin’ Donuts for the celebration. Before Hastings came in, though, Schriner called to ask if she could check in on Phillips. Hastings knew where he lived because she’d run in to him trick-or-treating with her children one Halloween, so she made her way over. Phillips answered her call through a window—he was lying on the floor and couldn’t get up.
Hastings called 911 and texted Schriner, who got permission to leave work early to help. Emergency responders removed the air conditioning unit from Phillips’ bedroom window, and Schriner crawled in. The man was on the living room floor, looking confused.
An ambulance brought Phillips to a hospital, where Schriner and Hastings visited him later that day and on his birthday. “I would do that again in a heartbeat for anybody, for any of my customers,” Schriner told Salem News.