There's a French word that's used frequently in this part of Louisiana: lagniappe (LAN-yap). It means "a little something extra." Actually, it's more than a word. It's an attitude.
On the first night of my recent houseguests' visit, we went for dinner at a popular seafood restaurant. It was early in the evening, so our wait for a table was no longer than ten minutes. As it turned out, that first available table was not the best one. Not that any of us noticed that in the beginning.
I sat across from my stepsister, Donna. Her husband, C.O., sat between us. Service was good, and in a matter of moments our attention was focused on good conversation and the excellent food in front of us. We paid so little attention to other diners and to usual restaurant noises that we might as well have had the room all to ourselves.
A sudden crash caused all three of us to jump, shattering the illusion of dining in a bubble. We were instantly aware that the kitchen door was only a few feet away from C.O.'s back and that a busboy with his tray of dirty dishes had accidentally bumped the edge of that door, causing the load of dishes and leftovers to crash to the floor.
Restaurant staff surrounded the spill immediately, cleaning up the mess with as little disruption as possible, and we returned to enjoying our dinner. We were now aware of people coming and going through the kitchen door, but they were so unobtrusive about it that we paid them little attention.
Several minutes later, after we were no longer thinking about that interruption, a member of the restaurant staff stepped quietly up to C.O.'s shoulder. She was dressed in uniform, dark pants and white shirt, and she held a small towel in her hand. With a friendly smile she leaned in and quietly informed C.O. that there was a splash of tartar sauce on his shirt and, with his permission, she would wipe it off. He readily agreed, and we all laughed as she leaned in and rubbed the spot off his shirt. She seemed relieved that we had responded with humor, and, her black eyes dancing as she finished with C.O.'s shirt, she motioned to his rear end. "And that ain't all," she said, flashing an even bigger smile.
By then we were nearly rolling with laughter. I saw another staff member leaning in the kitchen doorway, smiling and shaking her head at the nerve of her co-worker, who was bent over, busily scrubbing the seat of C.O.'s pants.
I get so tickled when I think of the conversation they must have had in that kitchen beforehand, trying to decide what was the right thing to do and who would be brave enough to do it. The meal was good enough that we'd probably remember it anyway, but the decision those restaurant workers made ensured we won't forget the night C.O. got a little something extra with his seafood platter.