So since our move to California last September, we’ve found a nearby restaurant that serves as our favorite family spot. It’s one of those all-you-can-eat soup-and-salad joints that, with coupons, costs about $7 a person. It’s clean, it’s tasty, it’s healthy, it’s affordable. Perfect.
The four of us have probably gone to this eatery, oh, 10 times, and whenever we’re there the same short, 55ish man seems to be working. His name is Lupe, he’s bald and squat, he’s from South America, he speaks fluent Spanish and broken English and he’s incredibly nice. He always recognizes us, and inevitably stops by with a pep in his step and ceaseless enthusiasm. Why, the wife has repeatedly been so dazzled by his kindness and attention that, just recently, she suggested we buy him a gift. Some chocolates, perhaps. Maybe a book.
And I agreed. I mean, he’s really friendly. Why, when we ate at the restaurant last month, he brought the wife a fresh cup of coffee and a free bag of cookies. Then, maybe three weeks ago, he quickly clearer her tray and made her another fresh cup of coffee. Then, just yesterday, he not only brought her coffee, but first warmed the cup with hot water, so that it’d be perfect for her. “He’s just the nicest man,” she said. “Don’t you think?”
I nodded. Just the nicest man.
“We should find out what he likes and get him a gift. Don’t you think?”
Again, a nod. Why not? Let’s buy that gift.
So the wife approached Lupe while he was working (and I was at the table with our kids), and asked what he does with his free time.
“Oh,” he said, “I like to go to Tijuana.”
“Ah,” said the wife, “I’ve never been there.”
“Well,” said Lupe, “you and I should go—together.”
I’ve changed my mind. No gift.