I was lucky enough to attend this year’s annual Hirst Hospitality Awards, which honor excellence in the hospitality industry. We’re not talking about restaurateurs or head chefs. No, this dinner sponsored by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation honors exemplary employees in the industry. As Walter Gaylord of Tulsa was honored for his 30 years as a dishwasher for the Tulsa Country Club, it reminded me how lucky we are to have folks willing to feed us, wash our dishes and put up with any guff we might impart. Hospitality, not just food, is a living for a legion of people. Think about that the next time you have the urge to be rude to a server at a restaurant. A true professional has no recourse to defend himself or herself against a rude customer. That would be stepping beyond the bounds of the profession. If your order is slow, wrong or below standard, it’s not rude to point that out. Rude is in one’s tone or manner. No one in the profession wants a customer to walk away from a meal dissatisfied. Repeat customers and word of mouth are the foundation of success in the industry. And we’re talking about an industry that demands work be done morning, noon, night, weekends and holidays. Having people willing to sacrifice any semblance of what the rest of us might consider a normal life is a blessing and worthy of gratitude. So, if you’re eating out this Turkey Day, show some thanks by starting the Christmas season a little early — perhaps by giving at least a 25 percent tip.