Dear Mr. Neely

I am a poor orphan boy. (Well temporarily orphaned at least. That is to say, my mean, mean boss — think Ebenezer Scrooge as a sorority sister — has dragged me away from my family and is making me go to the work house in Orlando. Oh sure, Disney World you say. Not a chance of that. I’m more likely to see Hurricane Karen than I am Disney World.) So, uh, yeah, orphan.

I was wandering tired and hungry. (I mean you’d be tired and hungry too if the airline had scheduled your flight not only at dinnertime, but at the furthest gate in the longest terminal as well.) So anyway, wandering. And hungry.

There I was, desolate in my hunger when I saw my salvation. There it was on the terminal wall, your face, smiling down at me, your countenance, a bright, beautiful, beatific beacon of barbecue. (Note to self: find “B” synonym for countenance. Might as well do this thing right.)

As I queued for cue, I began to feel a sense of comfort washing over me. I believe my fellow travelers, each journeying to their own Canterbury, felt the same.

Looking at our queue, then looking at the sad little lines at the “Famiglia” pizza place and the Backyard Burgers, I have no doubt that you can provide for me in the custom to which I have become accustomed. Or better even. Better is good. Yeah, better. I mean, come on, there were over three times as many paying customers at your place as at those other two places combined. Talk about a license to print money.

And I know that you are the one to provide me with guidance and wisdom. As I stood on queue, I repeatedly heard the lady at the register say “fill out those three lines for me” as she handed credit card slips to customers. I will admit that I began to doubt the wholesome image that you put forth. What information were you collecting from weary travelers? What nefarious schemes were you hatching? Ah, but when it was my turn to fill in the three little lines, I saw immediately not only your wisdom but the thoughtfulness you show your employees as well. One line was, of course, the signature line. The other two lines? The tip and total lines. What a quaint (and no doubt effective) way to remind folks to tip. And when you’re ordering at the counter and waiting for your number to be called a tip is not usually the first thing on your mind. I didn’t hesitate to tip. I think you have to reward that kind of crafty behavior. The kind of behavior that I am sure you will instill in me.

Thank you for your consideration. When I return to Memphis, I will visit your airport outpost again to seek your answer. And should the answer be no, then I still want to thank you for the barbecue spaghetti dinner. It was excellent. In fact, the only thing missing was being able to read about you in the People magazine laminated to the tables in your main place.

Very truly yours,

Papa Squirrel

Harmoni Artisan Meal Market, Orlando
My father and my friends