A gas station. I buy one sweet tea, two scratch-off lotto tickets. The first ticket is a loser. The second: I win a hundred stinking bucks.
I almost hyperventilate. This has only happened one other time in my life—the hundred bucks, not the hyperventilating.
The cashier hands me a hundred-dollar-bill. I don’t usually carry paper money anymore. This represents all the cash I have. And it’s enough to buy breakfast.
So, I drive a few miles down the road.
My waitress is a nine-year-old. She’s all smiles, and her yellow apron is too big.
“Two eggs over medium, please,” I tell her.
“Two. Eggs. Oh. Ver. Mee. Dee. Yum,” says Tiny, writing on a notepad.
I order a biscuit, too. She needs help spelling.
Tiny runs to the kitchen. I see her older sister at the grill—twelve, maybe thirteen years old. They’re discussing the confusing nuances of my order.
Tiny’s mother brings her to my table. “Sir,” says Tiny. “What exactly does ‘over medium’ mean?”
I explain—soft yellow, hard white. She yessirs me and I feel like Methusela’s uncle.
But I’m in a good mood. Just yesterday, I stopped at an antique store near Greenville, Alabama. They had everything from old Jimmy Carter campaign posters, to Depression-era fishing reels.
The lady behind the counter asked me, “You like Indians?” Then she showed me a collection of miniature hand-carved wooden chiefs.
She handed me one. The brave wore Sunday feathers and held a tomahawk.
“My granddaddy carved this,” she said. “You can have it.”
“Yeah, I got a million of’em. I give’em away sometimes. It’s what he would’ve wanted.”
I had a granddaddy who carved.
A few minutes later: my friend called. He said he’s expecting his first child. This is big news. Five years ago, the doc told his wife she was barren. He cried on the phone.
Then, this morning: a hundred-dollar bill for a man who never has cash.
I’m not going to lie, good days get harder to come by the older I get. This world seems meaner than it once was. Suffering abounds. Politics this. Politics that.
But even though the weight of life is enough to break your damn ribs, I know some folks who still manage good days.
People like the third-grader who is undergoing chemo, who smiles at his nurses. Or the boy in a wheelchair, who plays baseball anyway.
Or the woman whose father once molested her, and scarred her face with a razor blade. She started a non-profit. She claims, “I don’t have bad days when I’m busy making sure others have good ones.”
Tiny brings my eggs. The yellows are hard. The hash browns just came out of the freezer. My biscuit could be used for sanding offshore oil tankers. I eat every bite.
“Was breakfast okay?” asks Tiny at the cash register, her mother standing beside her.
Breakfast was exquisite, darling. Service was superb. I left cash on the table.
Be sure to split that big bill with your sister.