A server at Lone Star Steakhouse rejects that idea that he’s a hero, but many people would disagree.
When Victor Ceasar got up Monday morning and prepared to head out to his shift serving customers at the Mount Airy restaurant, he had no idea that he would do something incredible in just a few hours.
Quick thinking, a cool head and proper training allowed Ceasar to save the life of a patron who began choking during his shift.
It happened at Table Six, when an elderly couple came in for lunch. Ceasar had been keeping an eye on them throughout their meal.
While in the kitchen, a coworker came to him and told him they had noticed the elderly gentleman at the table shaking. They suggested he take some bread to the table.
When he returned to the dining room, Ceasar noticed the gentleman standing up and bending over.
“He was shaking, couldn’t breathe and was making choking sounds,” the server said.
It was happening so quickly that the other workers at the restaurant momentarily froze, not knowing what to do.
Recalling the training he received during two years in the Army Reserves and four years serving in the U.S. Navy aboard an aircraft carrier, Ceasar sprang into action.
“I learned a lot of first aid stuff in the Army when I received infantry training,” he said, noting that instincts took over and he reacted before thinking.
“Suddenly I was behind him. He was a pretty big guy but I managed to wrap my arms around him, feel his ribcage and find his diaphragm,” the former soldier said. “I was yelling for my general manager while at the same time performing the Heimlich maneuver.”
After several thrusts, a piece of food dislodged and the customer was fine. They paid for their meal, thanked him profusely and left.
To hear Ceasar tell it, what he did was no big deal. He was just doing his job.
“I don’t know whether I saved his life or not, but it was a natural reaction due to my military training. I just did what I was trained to do.
“I didn’t want anything bad to happen to a customer on my watch,” he said. “They were at my table so I was responsible for them while they were there. Even though I’m waiting tables, I’m a professional when I walk through these doors. Some people may think waiting tables is a nothing, play job, but I’ve been doing it for over seven years and consider myself a professional.”
It is only natural to try to help others, the server added.
“You may not think you’re going to have to save someone’s life, but you’re supposed to do what you can to help them out,” he said quietly. “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and maybe that’s why they sat at my table Monday.”
Soft-spoken and somewhat quiet, Ceasar rejects that idea that he is a hero.
“I feel like my life has been touched by what happened,” he said softly, shuffling in his seat. “We talk about karma and maybe at some point some blessing will come because of what I did. That’s how I try to live my life every day.”
Ceasar, who’s son has just been through a major medical procedure, said as he was racing to the customer’s aid he recalled how he felt when his loved one was in the hospital.
“Seeing (what his son went through) and knowing what could have happened if I hadn’t received and remembered the training…” his voice trailed off.
Lowering his eyes, Ceasar spoke quietly.
“To know that I may have helped save that man’s life, deep down, I’m both proud and humbled,” he said.
As for the customer?
“I didn’t get his name,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.