“When I saw them laughing, it really hurt me,” Perry recounted.
They wouldn't let him sit down.
“I wasn’t expecting it all,” Perry added. “It was a pretty big shock from people I thought I could trust.”
Then, something else unexpected happened.
Total strangers -- customers and workers -- came to his defense.
“The worker said ‘you can either get out of my restaurant or pay for that man's tip,’” Perry said.
Perry ended up sitting alone.
“He looked depressed, a little sad,” server Lavon Etheridge remembered.
When Etheridge found out Perry was being bullied, it hit home for him.
“I was bullied in high school as well,” Etheridge said.
Without hesitation, Etheridge, another coworker and a customer bought Perry’s meal.
“It was so remarkable for the kindness of strangers to step in,” mother Annette Perry said.
She even called IHOP corporate to share her appreciation.
Even more unexpected, one of Perry’s bullies had a change of heart that day.
He sat down and apologized to Perry.
“He said ‘if that’s what fitting in feels like, I don’t want to fit in,’” Perry explained.
It was a life lesson he won't soon forget.
“Although there might be some kids picking on you, and some kids that are just the worst of humanity -- there will always be the greatness of humanity,” said Perry.