Dear Tej,

Even on my worst day or worst work week, every time I hear you say, “Hello, my friend,” I am lifted right back up. I find myself anticipating your greeting before I walk into the store.

Without failure, whenever I step foot into The City (Route 1) to pick up my weekend craft four-pack, you greet me with a “Hello, my friend."

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When Gary’s Beverage (above) was bought out by The City, I was nervous.

I knew Gary’s – not The City. I liked supporting small businesses, not a branch of a major beer store. If I said that to you now, you would laugh and shrug your shoulders.

The size of the store and the bright red paint does not make The City successful, you do. You are a Portsmouth man who has embraced Portsmouth as your home. I have never seen you grumpy.

Perhaps it is because you smile with your whole face and it is clear you love what you do - provide our town with good, local beer.

The “Hello, my friend" greeting was quickly transformed into a real friendship, and I am forever thankful for that. When I look lost and in awe at the variety of local IPAs, judging what I was drinking solely based on the can’s logo, you are always fast to point out your best sellers for the week. You know I like my IPAs “extra juicy – extra hazy.”

My first time in The City, I asked you if you had any milkshake IPAs. You brought me back into the beer cave. Way back.

Eventually, you looked at me with your soft yet full-faced smile and handed me a local milkshake IPA from Smuttynose: “Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya, IPA.” You became my best friend at that moment – what a beer.

The second time I went in, you greeted me as usual, but then you asked what breweries I liked. I told you Definitive Brewing Company. A soft smile and a quick head flick told me to follow you. You proudly showed me to your Definitive section; however, I was less than impressed. Yet again, I was craving a milkshake IPA.

The next week, the third time I went in, I did not see you at first. I went over to the Definitive section of the store and there they were. Three different kinds of Milkshake IPA’s. You checked me out at the register and said, "There you go, my friend. That is what you like right?”

I’m not sure if you will remember these specific interactions, but I do. They are engraved in my memory along with your gentile, full-faced smile.

You really put the icing on the cake for me when you met my fiancé. You likely had no idea she was with me. You had never met. It was Thanksgiving morning. I was shocked you were working. You should have been home with your kids.

With baggy eyes, tired from the holiday rush, you saw my fiancé struggling to hold numerous four packs. You ran outside, grabbed a cart, and loaded it for her. You proceeded to walk around with her, helping get the family only the best local IPAs… “extra juicy – extra hazy.”

One thing you do not know is how much your community and coworkers appreciate you Tej.

Just recently I went in for my weekend craft four-pack. You had a day off, finally. I asked, “Where’s my man, Tej?” to the two people at the register.

I never got an answer. Instead, my question was immediately answered by laughter and small anecdotes of interactions with you.

So, my friend, thank you.

Thanks for making me smile every time I pick up my weekend craft four-pack. Thanks for spreading your positivity to me, your coworkers, and anyone who comes into The City.

Your warm welcomes and meaningful gestures remind me why I love this town; because of good people like you.

Cheers my friend.

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