A recent TikTok trend has users sharing their “nice” experiences with celebrities — and one woman’s contribution centering on the late Robin Williams has people feeling pretty emotional.
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In a clip that has since been viewed over 790,000 times, the 46-year-old former waitress detailed how she ended up sharing an inside joke with beloved actor Robin Williams, who died by suicide in August 2014.
McDonald told In The Know that she used to work at a burger place called Darla’s in San Fransisco’s Sunset District between 2004 and 2005 when, during one fateful shift, Williams and a woman who appeared to be a business colleague came into the restaurant to eat.
“The woman is, like, talking to me, but the guy wouldn’t even look at me,” McDonald said in her TikTok, noting that the man was using his arm to block his face from view. “He was asking me about the menu and he was like, ‘How’s the club sandwich? And I was like, ‘It’s really good.’ And then he peeked out and he’s like, ‘How good is it?’ And then I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Robin Williams.'”
Trying her best to stay calm, McDonald said she did not vocalize that she knew who the comedian was, adding that he could probably “see on my face that I knew it was Robin Williams.”
Moments later, the two shared a moment over a simple club sandwich that she would never forget.
“We were like looking at each other and then he goes, ‘How good is [the sandwich]?'” she recalled. “And I said, ‘It’s the best f****** club sandwich you’re ever going to have.’ And he said, ‘Get me that f****** club sandwich!'”
McDonald said that Williams ended up leaving her $20 under his plate that day, and proceeded to return to Darla’s periodically to order the same meal.
“I would sit him at this table in the back and he would always be like, ‘Give me the best f****** club sandwich ever!’ or say, ‘You know what I f****** want?’ and I would say, ‘You want that f****** club, don’t you?'” she said.
During one of his visits to the restaurant, however, McDonald actually flipped the script on the famed actor and pretended for a moment she was oblivious to the bit for a “gotcha!” moment for the ages.
“This one time he came in and he was like, ‘You know what I f****** want?'” she explained. “And I was like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about…’ He had this look on his face, and I was like, ‘HA HA!'”
TikTokers were in awe of the friendly exchange, with many expressing regret over the loss of the notoriously kind actor.
“Omg you had a running joke with the king of comedy!” one wrote.
“I love this so much,” said another. “It is so sweet but makes me so so so sad.”
“We didn’t deserve him,” commented a third.
McDonald told In The Know that the wording on Darla’s menu may have been a factor in the ongoing bit she shared with Williams.
“The club sandwich on Darla’s menu was listed as ‘The Best Club Sandwich in the City’ and I think that is what sparked the interaction between Robin and me,” she said. “He asked me if it really was that good. I told him it was really good and when he saw that he could talk to me and I wasn’t going to scream his name and out him to the rest of the diners, he pushed me on it a bit.”
Eventually, McDonald quit her job at Darla’s and moved back home to Santa Cruz. She never saw the actor again after that, and is not sure whether he returned back to the restaurant after her departure.
“I never told [other staffers] that Robin Williams was coming in to the restaurant because I didn’t want to make a thing of it,” she explained. “I loved him as an actor and comedian and I felt like the best way I could show my gratitude was to just let him coming in to the restaurant be sweet and normal.”
“Robin Williams was a sweet, energetic, playful person with an edge,” she added. “My favorite kind of person. It didn’t matter that he was famous when I was serving him his club sandwich. It mattered most that he saw me as a whole person worthy of connection. That connection thing he did was a huge part of his genius.”
Unsurprisingly, McDonald’s wasn’t the only nice celebrity experience involving Williams to go viral on TikTok.
Actor Josh Flitter, who starred as a child actor in License to Wed alongside Williams, shared that the legend taught him “everything I know about comedy and professionalism and being kind to people on set.”
“He was the sweetest person on the planet … a genius and the kindest man,” Flitter recalled.
“[Williams] worked really hard to make everybody else laugh all the time. He was a sweetheart,” he explained. “I miss him, he was a great man.”
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If you found this story insightful, check out these adorable photos of Robin Williams and his daughter, Zelda.
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