At Crazy Jose's Mexican restaurant recently, a friend and I did a fine job of scarfing down respectable portions of our meals. But the gut-busting CJ's Special — two cheese enchiladas, a tamale, beef taco, bean chalupa, chile con queso, chips and guacamole served with Spanish rice and refried beans — was a bit much for either of us. So we wound up requesting doggie bags.
When we requested tiny containers to accommodate the yummy salsa that came along with fresh-made chips as a complimentary appetizer, our waitress said, "Oh, sorry, we don't have those. But I can get you an extra order of salsa. Would you like a pint or a half pint?"
I hadn't planned on buying a container of the salsa, but it was undeniably good, and I had to credit the girl for her smooth upsell. We agreed to a half-pint container and bag of chips each. When I paid the bill, I noticed that the chips and salsa weren't on it — and I mentioned it to the waitress. She just beamed and said, "They're free with the meal. You coulda got refills all day. Why would we charge you to take some home?"
I was dumbfounded. City living and eating in restaurants where pre-dinner breads are served individually and on request have left me unprepared for a dose of small-town generosity. I thanked her and explained how unexpected the freebies were. Her face lit up, and she said with a giggle, "I LOVE doing that. It makes people so happy."
It was a little thing, and it certainly made me happy — more so for the gesture than for the actual food. And I couldn't help but notice how happy it made her. She genuinely enjoyed giving away those chips and salsa, bringing smiles to customers' faces, being a little bit of a bright spot in an otherwise ordinary day.