I met my parents at Penn Station yesterday. After several remarks about person density compared to their East Coast origin D.C., we got into a hotel-bound cab. After paying for what my mom later referred to as a "wild cab ride" (too bad she missed out on the one through the Costa Rican bananna farm with the beer-drinking driver), my dad gave the driver an encouraging, "Great job!" for safely navigating the "traffic jammed streets" and waved goodbye to his new friend from the curb. Later, my mom insisted that we tip the apathetic 30-something server more than 20% for barely passable service because he might, in fact, be working two jobs to support two babies at home. Clearly, my sister's insistence that they see the play Nickel and Dimed paid off.
The entire afternoon was peppered with such exchanges. It makes sense for earnest, friendly people like my parents to live in a small town. They'd never get anything done around here for all the sincerity they exuberate.