Good

Here is a woman, I’m thinking, who’s got a room bursting at the rafters with folks. There are wrong orders to fix, grumpy customers to pacify, and employees who want to bend her ear.

The Cracker Barrel in Prattville is busy. And loud. Inside, there isn’t much in the way of elbow room. There are heaps of people eating dangerous amounts of biscuits.

And I am trying master the wooden Triangle Peg game.

The object of the game, of course, is simple. Leave the fewest pegs remaining on the triangle as possible.

Let’s say, for instance, you finish a game and only one peg is left. This means you are a NASA-level genius. Two pegs; you are moderately clever. Four pegs; your parents are first cousins.

Whenever I play the Triangle game, it’s not pretty.

I love it here. But then, I have a long history with Cracker Barrel. I’ve eaten at Cracker Barrels from Junction City to Gainesville. The food suits me.

The overhead music always has steel guitar in it.

Today, an elderly couple is sitting next to me. The man is skinny. She is frail. They are shoulder to shoulder.

The man is wearing a hospital bracelet. His entire lower leg is in a brace. His face is bruised purple. He is resting his head onto the old woman’s shoulder.

“I love you, Judy,” he says.

She just pats his head and scans the menu.

On the other side of the dining room is a table of paramedics. They wear radios on their shoulders. Their eyes are drooping. It looks like they’ve had a long night.

I eavesdrop on their conversation, but can’t make out much. All I hear is: “I’m ready to go home.”

These men are modern-day saints.

Behind me is a young family with five kids. Four boys are tall and thick. One is not.

One child is small and slight. He has a device in his ear and a device mounted on his head. He stares at his older brother’s plate and says, “Can I have some of YOUR pancakes, J.D.?”

The older boy answers: “You mean, you already finished your pancakes?”

“I was hungry, J.D.”

J.D. relinquishes his pancakes. The little boy’s face glows like an aircraft landing strip.

“Thanks J.D! You’re a SUCH a nice guy!”

J.D. is the poster child of nice guys.

The manager comes to my table. Her name is Kami. She’s tall, friendly. Nothing but smiles. Today, she’s busier than jumper cables at a country funeral.

She’s here because she noticed me, struggling with the Triangle Peg game.

“You want some help with that puzzle?” she says. “I actually know how to beat it.”

She squats onto her heels and walks me through the game toward an imminent victory. Move by move. One peg is left.

“CONGRATULATIONS!” she says, and we high-five. It’s a real high five, not a half-hearted one.

Here is a woman, I’m thinking, who’s got a room bursting at the rafters with folks. There are wrong orders to fix, grumpy customers to pacify, and employees who want to bend her ear.

And she’s helping an overgrown redhead with a wooden toy.

Before she leaves she says, “Isn’t today a good day?”

A good day.

I don’t know. Before I left our hotel this morning, I saw a news program that lasted a full hour—I remember when they only lasted thirty minutes. I guess they need an hour to tell you about all the bad news.

But I think Kami’s right, today isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. You ought to see this old couple beside me. The elderly woman is feeding her husband with a fork.

They are interrupted by a beeping noise. The paramedics receive a radio call. They stand. They leave before they finish coffee. Genuine heroes, I tell you.

I’m not smart enough to conquer the Peg game without help, but I know a few things. I know that people are beautiful. Life is a treat. I know a manager who deserves a big raise.

And above all…

I know that J.D. is a good brother.

27 comments

  1. Edna B. - April 15, 2018 6:18 am

    You learned all the important things. That makes it a super good day. I hope today is another awesome day for you. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  2. Beth Reed - April 15, 2018 7:46 am

    Good folks come in all forms. The elderly, the over whelmed waitress who sees the good in the day and enjoys a minute to play a puzzle game, the exhausted paramedics that never finished their coffee and a boy who shares his pancakes with his brother who is still hungry, and a man who might not know how to win a game of pegs on a wooden board but knows how to recognize good people and how to write about them.
    Yes I would say the day is pretty dang Good.

    Reply
  3. Gary - April 15, 2018 11:11 am

    Beth R. said it all. I agree with her. It’s gonna be a great day! And a good one, too.

    Reply
  4. Lynn - April 15, 2018 11:47 am

    Thank you for seeing the good. It helps all of us to see it too

    Reply
  5. Sue Cronkite - April 15, 2018 12:38 pm

    It is a great day!

    Reply
  6. theholtgirls - April 15, 2018 1:02 pm

    Good morning, Sean. Really good! Thanks for noticing and for telling us about it!

    Reply
  7. Jan - April 15, 2018 1:07 pm

    Amen and Amen!

    Reply
  8. Connie Havard Ryland - April 15, 2018 1:22 pm

    Thank you. I need your point of view everyday. You remind us all that life really is good, if we let it be.

    Reply
  9. GRACE A QUALLS - April 15, 2018 1:26 pm

    Starting a day with you makes my day, Sean.

    Reply
  10. Carol ann ROTHWELL - April 15, 2018 2:01 pm

    Your a good man,Sean!
    For you seem to only see the good in other’s! !
    Thank You!!
    Love ya.👼!

    Reply
  11. Jack Quanstrum - April 15, 2018 2:36 pm

    Life is good and full of opportunities to experience it. Good story Sean!

    Reply
  12. Fran Decker - April 15, 2018 2:54 pm

    Yep, the world is a cracked and broken place but thete is still light within that shines out through those cracks

    Reply
  13. Ronald Burch - April 15, 2018 4:09 pm

    Read ’em every one, Sean … ! really loved this one! We need you to replace L-e-s-t-e-r Holt’s bad news with some of your good news.

    Reply
  14. rosiegene1 - April 15, 2018 4:39 pm

    Wonderful to look for the good ! enjoyed and thanks for the smiles.

    Reply
  15. Linda Chipman - April 15, 2018 5:03 pm

    Thank for reminding me once again that there are good people in this messed-up world. I too love Cracker Barrel. One of the few places where you can still get good veggies.

    Reply
  16. Pat - April 15, 2018 7:38 pm

    Thanks for writing about the Prattville Cracker Barrel. We loved having you at the Robinson Springs Methodist Church this past Thursday night. Thanks again for your wisdom, it makes my day good!

    Reply
  17. Otis Reeves - April 15, 2018 9:36 pm

    My hometown!

    Reply
  18. Wendy Franks - April 15, 2018 11:28 pm

    Wow!

    Reply
  19. Nancy Rogers - April 16, 2018 12:44 am

    It is a good day.

    Reply
  20. wgarysmith - April 16, 2018 4:45 am

    Thanks Sean for another thought provoking article. You encourage me to look at the more the more meaningful moments in life (instead of complaining about the biscuits being cold, gravy too thick and my coffee cup being empty even when it is a packed restaurant). I am trying to see life through a different lens thanks to your insight and inspiration. I am sure that many of my not so good days would be a a lot better if I do.
    Thanks again and I am so glad that I finally got to meet you in person the other night
    God Bless you!
    Gary

    Reply
  21. Carl, another pilgrim - April 16, 2018 10:41 am

    Thumbs up!

    Reply
  22. Summer - April 16, 2018 1:56 pm

    Your “Good” columns are my favorite. I had a friend quote one of them last night and tell me she planned to share it with her son. She said, “You sent me that, didn’t you?” and I may have. I share a lot of them 🙂 Prattville’s my hometown, by the way, and many a morning we’ve hovered over the peg game at Cracker Barrell on Hwy. 14. Our 12yo will be THRILLED to know there’s a nice lady named Cami who can show him how to beat it!

    Reply
  23. Sharon Dodd - April 16, 2018 11:48 pm

    Keep writing, Sean. I love Cracker Barrel, probably because my Mom loves it. I love your take on the day. I think I need to borrow your glasses!

    Reply
  24. Diana Williams - May 3, 2018 8:11 pm

    A Really Great Story!!! You can learn a lot by watching others.

    Reply
  25. Annette H. Bailey - June 21, 2018 1:26 pm

    Sean….what a wonderful way to greet my morning. My husband and I love the Cracker Barrel. The first one I ate in was in Tenneesse on my way to Fan Fair with a group of girls. We hadn’t sat down long before I noticed my first country music singer! It was Jim Ed Brown! He wasn’t Vince Gill or Conway Twitty but I knew his music and loved his mellow voice! I asked the girls if they’d like to meet him with me. Their eyes got big and said you aren’t suppose to bother a star. I told them I didn’t know that rule and walked over to get his autograph. Well, better than that, he asked me to sit with him and have some coffee! We had a great talk and I was invited to the Grand Ole Opry backstage as his guest! I told him I’d try but we were only there for a week. We parted as friends and I never stopped meeting stars that week. I even got a kiss from Steve Warner at the Stockyard Lounge! I’ve been eating at the Cracker Barrell ever since! And you’re right as always…paramedics are saints, indeed! (I usually make it down to two legs but have made it to one a few times! God bless you and your wife…and of course, Ellie Mae!

    Reply
  26. Carl Hopson - June 21, 2018 3:09 pm

    Sean, I follow you on FB and every time I read the post, I drop down and then read the oldest shown. Well today is a reminder to me. My wife and I married one month after high school and will have our 60th anniversary July 1,2018. What your stories like this always reminds me of is; inside of EVERY old person there is a young person. I try to look at older people as just like everyone else, just different looking. I love all your stories of life and as I age, I like even more the ones that show devotion between a husband and wife. My wife is one of those jewels.

    Reply
  27. Sherry Zan - June 22, 2018 3:07 am

    I just saw a new TV crime drama in which one of the characters said. “I hate people.” And as I was watching, I thought, “Yes, so do I at times.” Then I read this. And your words make the tears flow and I know I really don’t hate people at all. Good people are everywhere. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply

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