OPINION: Of tips and teeth, my life in a nutshell
One of my favorite stories is about my 5-year-old son Camden Lee – and about good food service, which took place at a Chili’s restaurant in Corsicana.
I’ve told this story to many people and written it for at least two other publications.
It starts like this: Any hungry or thirsty patron can tell you, good restaurant service – getting your food, sodas, ice tea and water in a timely manner – is a definite virtue for any waiter. Just ask my 5-year-old son.
Camden Lee and I were sharing a meal one day at the Chili’s in the 2200 block of South Highway 45 in Corsicana with my lovely wife, Amy Sims Tinsley, and my stepson, Trent Woodall. Amy is Camden’s mom; Trent is his brother.
Having driven to this location in a separate vehicle, I was waiting for the three of them in the parking lot when they arrived.
Cam was asleep in his car seat at the time. Amy said he had nodded off playing a new game on her iPhone.
As I unfastened Cam’s seatbelt and started to remove him from the car, he blinked a few times and quickly woke up.
At this point, I probably should note that Camden has been playing “Pokémon GO,” a game that allows people to hunt in both “the real world” and the Pokémon virtual world using iPhone and Android devices.
If negative feedback on Facebook is any indication, these Pokémon GO officianadoes were driving a lot of their parents batty with their fevered pursuit of the game.
An apt player on this game can pursue as many as a hundred species of Pokémon at a time. Camden is quickly working his way up to becoming apt.
So, back to Chili’s. We all took our seats at the table. We waited for our menus while Camden resumed playing Pokémon GO.
Our waiter, a bearded young man, really went out of his way to make sure we all had quick refills of drinks and our food on the table after only a short wait. He was friendly and helpful. Very good at his job.
Not that Camden appeared to notice it.
No, our adorable 5-year-old hero appeared to be lost in that strange other Pokémon GO world, hunting and capturing at-large fictional creatures using my wife’s cell phone. He spoke few words.
I offered Camden a bite or two of my corn on the cob. Camden nodded, moved his head over in my direction, not taking his eyes away from the screen.
But instead of biting it, he only licked the corn, laughed at his gag and resumed his game.
Although he didn’t eat that much, Camden did chug a lot of his Dr Pepper. And some of mine, too. Which meant more trips to the table for our waiter.
At one point, Camden took the stick out of a corn dog he had ordered, grabbed a tortilla from my wife’s plate, wrapped it around his corn dog, shoved it in his mouth and took a bite – sort of. Food isn’t really Cam’s thing. Between a delicious pizza and a new toy, he’s always going to take the new toy.
Time passed. Camden kept playing.
Eventually, it was time for us to leave.
Although I remain certain Cam never made any eye contact with the waiter before this point, he suddenly appeared to be very familiar with the waiter and extremely grateful for the service.
So much so, that on his way out, Camden gave the waiter two “fist bumps,” transitioned to a hearty handshake and ultimately finished his “Thank You, Mr. Waiter!” world tour with a huge, sweet, side hug.
Watching this, my wife and stepson looked on and smiled. I kind of cocked an eyebrow.
I read somewhere that “tips” is not a word per se, as much as an acronym for “To Insure Prompt Service.”
Judging from the reaction of everyone who saw this, Camden really made the waiter’s day.
As we prepared to walk to the parking lot, my wife turned around and offered a quick word of explanation for Cam’s enthusiasm.
“He’s a hugger,” Amy said.
And, I thought to myself, “A GREAT tipper!”
Old age equals false teeth?
PS: I was talking to a children's book author today, a nice lady, and she told me her work was something "my grandkids would like."
The author didn't say "kids."
No, she jumped straight to assuming I'm – you know – a grandfather. Apparently, I look old enough to make an author I've never met before comfortable assuming I am a grandpa.
Which I'm not. After all, I have a 5-year-old son.
But, yes. I also have a nearly 23-year-old son who is going to get married – soon.
* Exhale *
I suppose I should just go ahead and get fitted for false teeth.
PPS: After I posted the aforementioned thought on Facebook, my new boss, David Martin, responded, “Is false teeth the only sign of a grandfather?”
Ben Tinsley is the Burleson Star’s managing editor and senior reporter. He and his false teeth can be reached by cell phone at (702) 524-3773 or by email, email@example.com. He can also be followed on Twitter, @BenTinsley, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12