Sometimes coworkers can turn out to be the best of friends. Hokule’a Taniguchi, who works at a Grand Chute, Wisconsin, Chick-fil-A restaurant, found this to be very true when her coworker Hailey Bridges made her a significant promise and kept it.
Taniguchi moved from Hawaii, where she was born and raised, to stay with her sister in Neenah, Wisconsin, last October. She began working at Chick-fil-A but had to ride a bike to and from work. Sometimes, it took her two hours to get there in the cold weather.
“It was fine in the beginning, because it wasn’t as cold,” Taniguchi told the Appleton Post Crescent. “But once it started snowing, it was really hard, because I’d easily slip. When the wind would hit and I was biking, my face was just not happy with me.”
Bridges, her coworker, was amazed by her new friend’s perseverance.
“I couldn’t do it, myself,” Bridges, 17, told Fox 11 News. “I just — I can’t imagine how she does it.”
As part of the employee holiday party, the company held a raffle with prizes like a Crock-Pot and a Nintendo Switch game console. But it was the 2008 Hyundai Elantra among the prizes that excited Taniguchi and her coworkers, with whom she had become fast friends.
“We all put one in,” Bridges told Fox 11 News of the car raffle tickets, “and we’re like, ‘If one of us gets it, it’s gonna go to her, like no matter what.’ It was not a second thought.”
“Seeing our team care for each other was our favorite highlight,” Chick-fil-A Appleton posted on Facebook, along with photos from the night. “We were able to give away A CAR this year! Haley won the car but immediately decided to give it to Hokule’a so she doesn’t have to bike to work anymore!”
When they called her name, both of the young women were floored.
“We looked at each other, and just like the moment felt like everyone wasn’t there, it was just like us two,” Bridges told Fox 11 News.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked,” Taniguchi told WFRV. “I screamed and I ran to her and I was just like… My heart felt so full, and I was so excited, and then obviously I was so happy, I just started crying my eyes out.”
Taniguchi says that the car has given her freedom and allows her to help others, as well.
“Being able to have a car and that freedom, and giving someone else a ride — helping someone else out, that just warms my soul, and I’m just so excited and happy and I can’t believe it,” she told WFRV.
Even though she is a high school junior who is paying for her own car, Bridges said her decision was an easy one.
“She’s one of the people here that has made me be myself more, and I just feel so happy being around her, and it was just an immediate decision to give her a car, because she probably needs it more than anyone I know,” Bridges told WFRV.
She says her friendship with Taniguchi has helped her come out of her shell.
“She’s changed my life so much,” Bridges told the Appleton Post Crescent, “and I’m so glad I was the one who could change her life, too.”