Good starts, holiday travels and coincidences

What happens early in the morning seems to set the tone for the day.

If someone asks you, “What side of the bed did you get out of this morning?” you know you probably are a little grumpy or maybe it’s that you’re more grumpy than usual. On the other hand, some days start out so perfectly.

Not so long ago I had one of those perfect starts. When I pulled out of the garage on Travis Road near the Marshall Golf Club, I needed to make a stop on East College Drive on the other side of town. There are basically two options: One is to get on the bypass and go around. Number two is to drive straight through along Country Club Drive and continue on College Drive.

The first choice can be faster because of fewer traffic lights and higher speed limits, but I chose going through the middle of town. My choice meant going through SEVEN traffic lights and those traffic lights are not timed to expedite that west to east (nor east to west) travel. However, my day started really well when I maintained the different speed limits and yet did not have to stop at any of the seven. Not only that, but after my errand in the east I needed to go to the YMCA and again got back through three of the lights and only had to slow down a little to make the last light at Main Street!

My day continued to be a good one in that later I won one of the afternoon card games at the senior center.


The Christmas/New Year holidays provided some more good starts to the day especially finding that on three occasions I drove round trips to Minneapolis and one trip to Worthington on roads without a single snow flake. On New Year’s Day itself we went to a Minnesota Orchestra performance that started at 2 in the afternoon.

That meant not being able to eat lunch before leaving Marshall, but finding a place that would be open in Minneapolis on New Year’s Day. Orchestra Hall is in the downtown area just kitty-corner to the Hilton Hotel so I decided that the hotel would definitely have a restaurant open.

Now that hotel is a classy sort of place with prices on the spendy side. Ordinarily, being a cheap sort of fellow, I might have opted for a fast food place, but what the heck? Why not splurge for the new year?

Parking cost in Minneapolis can very depending on events. For example, one place where I used to park that was closer, but not terribly close to some of the sporting event sites, had a sign that listed ordinary days at $6 per event, Twins days at $12, and Vikings days at $20. I can’t even begin to guess what the costs of parking will be for the Super Bowl.

On Jan. 1, 2018, though, parking in the Hilton garage was the normal $8 for the MN Orchestra event, which is the same for the other nearby venues to Orchestra Hall.

Our arrival was early enough that I could have parked below the Hilton on P1, but opted for a spot on P2 that was close to the elevator — the parking garage is not heated, but is a little warmer than being totally outside and thanks to the skyway system, we would not have to be outside once we were in the Hilton.


At the lobby restaurant, we were asked if we had reservations. Of course we didn’t but there were at least 30 empty tables. The hostess seated us and a waiter arrived with the menus. We ordered our beverages which were brought by a different person. Our waiter returned and we ordered our lunch — a cup of soup and a dinner salad (watercress with green goddess dressing — it was great by the way and just the right amount).

We also opted for the advertised add-on of grilled chicken breast for the salad. Yet a different waiter brought our soup and salad, but he disappeared before I noticed that we had not received our add-on grilled chicken.

I waved down our original waiter and pointed out that the chicken was missing. Apologies followed by a return to the kitchen and eventually the chicken was provided.

While we were eating, the waiter returned to say that because of the error, “You will not be charged for your luncheon.” Wow! How is that for the setting up of a great day? Indeed, no check (bill) was presented to us.

Hmmm? That presented me with a conundrum — love that word even if I don’t often use it. Or as King Monkut (Yul Brynner) sang (and talked) in The King and I: “…World have changed a lot, Some things nearly so, Others nearly not…Is a puzzlement.” The question for my situation was, “Do I leave a tip?”

I did end up leaving about what I estimated to be a 15 percent tip — fortunately having cash for that when ordinarily I would add it to the bill paying by credit card. It does seem a bit strange to me to leave a tip for the waiter who made the mistake and yet the hotel received nothing for what was a very good luncheon.


The MN Orchestra concert was a sell out with only a few empty seats probably due to season subscribers who were absent. The two seats to our left in what is an excellent location, were empty for the first part.

We had met the couple whose seats they were at many previous performances. However, when we came back from intermission, we were greatly surprised and pleased that we knew the couple who had upgraded from a far away, partial-view location to those two previously empty seats.

The husband was (is) a longtime faculty member at Southwest Minnesota State University. What a great, eventful day!

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!