Little Words

Her boyfriend didn’t stick around during pregnancy. She was forced to work. Her job was in a hotel laundromat. She was promoted to a maid last year.

Colatta is her name. She and I are in the elevator together. She is pushing a large cart of cleaning supplies and mini shampoos.

Colatta is short, black, cheery. She’s wearing scrubs. She is pure Alabama. She has an accent that won’t quit, and wears a War Eagle headband.

“Went to Auburn,” she says. “Wanted to be a vet, but didn’t even come close to finishing ‘cause I had my son.

“Man, I thought my life was over, it was just beginning.”

Her boyfriend didn’t stick around during pregnancy. She was forced to work. Her job was in a hotel laundromat. She was promoted to a maid last year.

“Have a good day,” she says to me, rolling her cart down a corridor.

“You, too,” I say.

“Me?” She laughs. “Already HAVING me a good day. I’m so blessed it ain’t funny.”

Colatta. I love that name.

Later that day, I drive two hours east. I stop at a cafe inside a gas station. It’s a hole-in-the-wall.

After eating, I pay at the register. The cashier is older, very skinny. She places a handheld vibrating box to her throat to speak. Her voice is robotic.

She hands me a receipt. Then, she presses the device to her neck again and says: “Have a good day. Enjoy this nice weather.”

There is a gnarled scar beneath her jaw.

And she’s wishing ME a nice day.

7:09 P.M.—I’ve driven all day. I’m eating in a locals-only beer joint. People in this room are looking at me funny. I’m an out-of-towner and they smell it.

There’s an old man with a service dog—a brown Lab named Hershey.

The man wears a ball cap with a battleship on it. He shows me a tattoo on his forearm which reads: “Albert, Daniel, Adam.”

“My three brothers,” he says. “Killed in Europe. I was too young for the Big War, they sent me to Korea.”

That’s all he says about it.

When he stands to leave, it’s hard for him to move. He limps. The dog walks close beside him.

The bartender explains that this man is one of America’s finest—who still suffers from a forgotten war.

Before the man leaves, he says, “Y’all be good.”

Everyone inside waves goodbye.

Right now, I’m writing from a hotel room. I’ve had a busy day. I’ve driven far. I’ve talked with people.

And I’ve heard words. Nice words. Kind words.

I believe in words, you see. I believe they do things. I don’t know how they work, and I don’t care. Saying simple words can make the sick feel a little better, make the sad smile, and make old men remember.

I believe in using them to glorify those who work hard, those who have lost voiceboxes, and those who suffer.

I’m a nobody from nowhere. But I believe in little, trivial letters, strung together to make sounds which form words. Words that help. Words that may or may not mean a damn thing to you.

Words like: you’re beautiful.

And: nothing bad lasts forever.

And: you are more exceptional than you will ever know.

And: God bless you, Colatta.

23 comments

  1. Scott Gardner - October 19, 2017 1:12 pm

    I rarely comment on posts and try to never read the comments, but I felt compelled to say “Thanks” today for your posts. You find the nobility in everyone and that’s important today. I fight the urge daily to be judgmental and your posts remind me that there’s a story behind those faces. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. teachenglish67 - October 19, 2017 1:28 pm

    “May you give a smile and have a blessing today”, is what I usually say to someone at the end of a conversation or meeting.
    Thank you, Sean, for your insight.

    Reply
  3. Toni Gerdes - October 19, 2017 1:35 pm

    I make it a point to wave at delivery drivers and mail men when I am out and about. They are invisible except for the moment they leave something at your house. And I love seeing the UPS guy’s face light up when he gets that big wave and a smile.

    Reply
  4. Patricia Schmaltz - October 19, 2017 1:39 pm

    You certainly bring a connection to the human race with every note you write. Thank you, and have a GREAT day!
    HUGS! (That’s my favorite letter finisher!)

    Reply
  5. Lauren Ulrich - October 19, 2017 2:12 pm

    Thank you the reminder that we should speak the good even if we think it won’t make any difference. It will~

    Reply
  6. Joan Dake - October 19, 2017 2:14 pm

    I pray that God continues to bless you, Sean, and Colatta, too

    Reply
  7. Janet Mary Lee - October 19, 2017 2:25 pm

    Your words are especially beautiful today! Bless you and all you write about! And bless your readers lucky enough to experience your words….

    Reply
  8. Pat Byers - October 19, 2017 2:46 pm

    yes. those words. sometimes from an unlikely source. one you don’t expect. one never knows how much a smile and a simple greeting can mean to another. YOUR words never fail to lift me up. thank you.

    Reply
  9. Anne Godwin - October 19, 2017 3:32 pm

    Another of your posts shared on Facebook. Your writing is so refreshing. Love is really all we need. That and respect among people who may disagree. Thanks for sharing your perspectives on life and individual people. You have a gift!

    Reply
  10. Jack Quanstrum - October 19, 2017 4:10 pm

    Absolutely agree with you Sean. It’s the true way to a rich life. Be kind with your words and let them be authentic and they will enrich another more then you will ever know. Peace brother.

    Reply
  11. Howard Humphreys - October 19, 2017 4:37 pm

    They get better with each post!! Thanks …ahbhump@aol.com

    Reply
  12. Linda Chipman - October 19, 2017 5:22 pm

    Your words matter to me Sean. Beautiful.

    Reply
  13. Virginia Liles - October 19, 2017 6:27 pm

    I like words, too. Comforting words, encouraging words, words of peace and hope. Thank you for words. Thank you for teachers who taught me to put them together. Thank you for Colattas of the world.
    Thank you for your words, Sean.

    Reply
  14. Lynda - October 19, 2017 7:22 pm

    Thank you, Sean. My sweet grandmother told me many times, negative words live forever, but thankfully the same is true for those sweet words.

    Reply
  15. Sarah - October 19, 2017 8:38 pm

    Love this as usual. I beleive in the same. A little kind talk and go a long way.

    Reply
  16. Karen - October 19, 2017 8:54 pm

    Awesome Sean, you just made my day! Every word true to the heart!
    Thank you for writing from your heart!

    Reply
  17. Molly Pinkston - October 19, 2017 10:24 pm

    Your words make me smile! Thank you for sharing! Molly

    Reply
  18. Sue Cronkite - October 19, 2017 11:18 pm

    Another great one!

    Reply
  19. Marion - October 20, 2017 1:16 am

    Words are so very special and important. They can make or break us. Your words help make me! I hope to pass them on! Hugs and love to you!

    Reply
  20. Laura Boyd - October 20, 2017 2:53 am

    Sean, I love everything that you write and the feelings you evoke with the letters that you “string together” so eloquently. Thank you so for sharing your talent…..I look very forward to every one of your post and I have not read one to which I did not relate in some way. Love your writings! Laura Boyd

    Reply
  21. Mary Ellen Hall - October 20, 2017 2:54 am

    LOVE THIS!!! SO TRUE!!
    Words can say it ALL!!

    Reply
  22. Jody - October 20, 2017 11:31 pm

    Kindness. In words or actions are blessings

    Reply
  23. Sam Hunneman - November 3, 2017 2:01 am

    Words do matter. Would that those in high and public places would remember that.

    Reply

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