So every holiday season Earl and I like to reward a server in a restaurant with a larger than normal tip. It’s our way of saying “thank you” to those that are squarely unappreciated by the public as a whole. The folks that strive to bring us a pleasant dining experience should be appreciated. We’ve seen too many well-intentioned folks get hollered at by surly customers, though on the flip side we’ve had a few that have rubbed us the wrong way but in even the worst of situations we’ve tried to keep it classy.

I think I’m digressing.

With the events and subsequent traveling that has taken place during the month of December, Earl and I have been eating out more than normal. I think it was when we were down in Bucks County, Pa. that I started asking him “Is this the one?”, referring to the server that we would reward with our holiday tip. I guess we weren’t feeling it because we kept our tipping at our standard approximately 20%, though we did give a slight bit extra to the lovely server that helped us out at that bistro that sits in the middle of Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Today Earl and I went shopping with the rest of the world, per our usual custom of buying ourselves something on the 26th of December, which is the anniversary of our original commitment ceremony. (Our wedding rings have been worn for 15 years as of today!) Since tomorrow is work day, I wanted to get home from the shopping excursion at a reasonable time, so we headed home from Albany around 4:30 p.m. Now I have mentioned a hundred or more times that I don’t really like driving the Thruway anymore, it’s wicked boring and since I could potentially drive the road everyday for work, I don’t really get my kicks on the toll road anymore. So I started heading home on Route 20. As we made our way to the outskirts of Albany, I asked Earl what he was in the mood for in the way of a meal on the way home. He said he didn’t care as long as he didn’t cook, and then he rattled off a few suggestions.

One of the cool things about US Route 20 in the eastern part of the Empire State is that it’s rural. Really rural. Like, there’s nothing but farm land rural. When he began mentioning a few places like a diner, or a Panera or a locally owned family restaurant, I suddenly realized that the best I would be able to drum up on our way home was the McDonalds attached to a gas station in the small village of Richfield Springs.

I turned north and headed to my stomping grounds around work. I instantly knew where I wanted to go; an Italian bistro that is creatively named “Plaza’s Italian Bistro” in the small city of Gloversville.

Our server’s name was Isaiah. A young lad in his 20s or so, he was very courteous, very efficient and more importantly, very charismatic and friendly without forcing it or being obnoxious about it. We often compare the friendliness of the server to a woman named Linda who worked at a place named Jack Appleseed’s back in the day; she would put her head up in the lamp that hung over the table and say she was wearing a hat. Then she would snort with laughter, somewhat like Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company”.

That wasn’t our thing.

Since Isaiah went out of our way to make our dining experience comfortable, pleasant and not too rushed or not too long, he was dubbed the “holiday recipient of the week” where we tipped him generously and added a happy face and a hearty, handwritten “Happy New Year”. We left the restaurant right after signing the bill. As we walked outside, I saw Earl look in one of the windows, where Isaiah was picking up the bill, saw the note and the tip and looked around (presumably for us) and then smiled.

We hope he had a great night. We certainly did.

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