Good Days

..the woman whose father once molested her, and scarred her face with a razor blade... Claims, "I don't have bad days when I'm busy making sure others have good ones."

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.”

“Really?”

“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.

12 comments

  1. Sam Hunneman - February 25, 2017 3:27 pm

    Sean, you just gave my day such a lift. You ever get to Maine, you look us up. Time for our redbone and b&t should be exposed to a Southern bloodhound.

    Reply
  2. Regina - February 25, 2017 3:27 pm

    Your writing and the subjects you write about help make my days good. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Sheron Johnson - February 25, 2017 3:37 pm

    I love everything you write!!!!

    Reply
  4. Judy - February 25, 2017 3:50 pm

    Thanks. I needed this today. Right now life is making me very tired.

    Reply
  5. Susie Munz - February 25, 2017 3:50 pm

    Great story!

    Reply
  6. Sandra Marrar - February 25, 2017 5:43 pm

    Wonderful!

    Reply
  7. Leon Salter - February 25, 2017 5:47 pm

    Thank you for your uplifting stories. Makes my day brighter. I grew up in Greenville. I only return for funerals and an occasional class reunion.

    Reply
  8. Avery Sloan - February 25, 2017 5:51 pm

    Alabama does not sell lottery tickets. Does this story take place there or in Tennessee?

    Reply
    • Jay - February 26, 2017 7:32 am

      Mr. Dietrich lives if Florida. We in Alabama are fortunate to have him visit and have been raised here. In Florida, they do sell lottery tickets.

      Reply
      • Avery Sloan - February 27, 2017 4:31 pm

        Yes, I understand he lives in Florida, but US 31 ends in Alabama and the story implied, as I read it, that the lottery ticket was purchased on a trip through Alabama. Therefore, I assumed the ticket must have been purchased along US 31 in Tennessee or elsewhere before entering Alabama.

        Since my comment was posted, the author replied to me that he purchased the ticket in Florida.

        Reply
  9. Mary Ellen Hall - February 26, 2017 7:24 pm

    ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS!!!

    Reply
  10. Carol DeLater - February 26, 2017 8:41 pm

    My aunt had a home restaurant in the front of her house…out in the country just off the toll road exit in Michigan City Indiana. One summer I had to stay at her house because my mom was recovering from surgery. I worked at the restaurant taking orders and washing dishes. I remember once she asked me what kind of cake to make. I told her chocolate with green mint icing (all of it totally from scratch like everything that was served). This story brought that memory back to me. That was probably one of the best summers I ever had. I also ate so many tomatoes from the farmer’s garden next door I got the hives.

    Bet you still have that Indian.

    Reply

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