And Then There Were Three


In my house we are still recovering from COVID-19, I am still getting over the tail end, but am feeling much better now. My wife has been great the whole way through this badness by taking care of us all. We are originally from Mississippi, but I live in Pennsylvania now.

Can you cheer me up today?


I have here a story from a man who I will call Pete. Pete wrote me a letter describing a unique wedding toast he received in 1982.

The story begins when Pete was making an all-night road trip from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, to Charleston, South Carolina. He was on his way to get married. His fiance’s family lived in Charleston.

They throw fancy weddings in Charleston. They don’t cut corners like we do here in the Florida Panhandle. At my cousin’s Florida wedding, for instance, the bride and groom wore matching camouflage and cut their wedding cake with a Buck knife.

But in Charleston they do things differently. I have visited Charleston, and frankly, I felt underdressed.

So Pete was on his way north. He would be arriving the day before his wedding. No sooner had he gotten out onto I-10 than he saw a man hitchhiking on the shoulder.

Pete faced an immediate crisis of conscience when he saw the hitchhiker. On the one hand, Pete was raised Methodist, and Methodists are required by federal law to pick up hitchhikers. On the other hand, Pete was in a hurry.

He pulled over. It was an old man with weathered skin and rags for clothes. Pete asked where he was going.

The old man said, “Don’t care. Where’re you headed?”

“South Carolina.”

The old man reached into his pocket and gave Pete all the cash he had, which wasn’t much. The guy said, “South Carolina’s good with me.”

Now, if the story stopped here, it would be a nice story about being kind to strangers, and about how Methodists kick proverbial denominational butt, etc. But remember, this story is about a wedding toast.

When Pete got to Tallahassee, he stopped at a gas station. He was filling his tank when he met a man wearing army fatigues and carrying a duffle bag. The man was unshaven and longhaired. He said he was on his way north and needed a ride.

Pete told the man to get in.

Soon, Pete and his two new friends were cutting through the Georgia night, passing peanut fields in the dark. They hadn’t traveled more than 25 miles when they saw another young man on the side of the road, sticking out his thumb. This was getting weird.

Pete was starting to wish he’d been born a Presbyterian.

The hitchhiker was young. A teenager. Pete asked the kid where he was going. The kid said he was on his way to visit family in Virginia. And anyone who is familiar with Methodism knows what happened next. Pete told him to buckle up.

Pete tells me, “I just couldn’t see how it was fair to pull over for one, but not the other guy.”

Thus, they rode across the Great American South, jetting across the low country at night. Four complete strangers. Pete says it felt like he was in a bizarre movie. A movie he sincerely hoped didn’t turn out to be a suspense thriller.

It was fun, Pete admits. The four men had a wonderful conversation on the way to Charleston. Pete says he completely lost track of time talking about music, books, movies, and all the other things people used to talk about before they got smartphones.

Then, even though these men were complete strangers—and this is where the story gets interesting—Pete got a little carried away and invited them to his wedding without first asking his wife.

When he got to Charleston, he rented the men a motel room for the night, which was no small fee. And the next day, he broke the news to his fiance about his impromptu wedding guests. As it turned out, his finance was very excited when she heard the news. And by “excited” I of course mean that her head rotated 360 degrees like the girl from the “Exorcist.”

“YOU DID WHAT?!” his future bride was saying between kidney shots.

That afternoon, Pete and his fiance arranged for the men to attend the wedding and reception. Before the ceremony, Pete took one of the men to a barbershop, and he also outfitted the men with sports jackets.

I’m running out of room here, but to make a long story even more tedious, the wedding was a smash. Pete and his wife exchanged vows while three guys in a back pew sat shoulder-to-shoulder like Larry, Moe, and Curly. And at the reception, Pete recalls that, without a doubt, these three men enjoyed the open bar more than anyone else.

The best moment of the night came just before dinner, when the city’s elite were raising glasses to toast the happy couple. One of the hitchhikers stood. He raised a champagne flute. Pete almost had a nervous breakdown waiting for the man to speak.

The old man used a loud and sincere voice. He didn’t say much, he didn’t draw much attention to himself. He simply held his goblet high and said, “Thanks for the lift, Pete.”

Pete says that there was a deep emotion in the air. He also says that nobody in the ballroom had a clue what the old man was talking about.

Except for maybe the Methodists.

Get well soon, Bulldog.


  1. Cathi Russell - June 8, 2020 9:05 am

    Thanks for the lift, Sean! 😅🤣😅🤣😅

  2. Lisa - June 8, 2020 10:13 am

    Ok. You made me cry with this one.

  3. Karen Erwin-Brown - June 8, 2020 10:37 am

    ok so that one made me well up. “Thanks for the lift on this Monday.”

  4. James Williams - June 8, 2020 11:15 am

    I can’t seem to delete your emails. I have not read one that didn’t go straight to the target. You are putting all of these in a book somewhere that I can find right?

  5. topdock - June 8, 2020 11:24 am

    The Good Samaritan.

  6. Marc Beaver - June 8, 2020 12:08 pm

    Yes…I love this! God is good.

  7. Steve Scott - June 8, 2020 12:38 pm

    Good morning Sean and Jamie. I thank you providing Me with entertainment and joy every morning. So happy I finally got to meet you guys. Your column is a daily reminder that despite the horrible news we are constantly bombarded with, there are good people in the world and there still may be hope for us. I count you two among my blessings.

  8. Penn Wells - June 8, 2020 12:58 pm

    Go Dawgs. 👍✅😄

  9. Dianne - June 8, 2020 2:47 pm

    Thanks for making my Monday a great day!!

  10. Christina - June 8, 2020 3:15 pm

    Are you a mind reader, Sean? Just read about the Good Samaritan. He must have been a Methodist!

  11. Lindy Lou - June 8, 2020 3:49 pm

    I don’t think I could love this anymore…just a superb story and told so very well! Made me laugh and cry! Thanks Sean! You are the best!

  12. Lawrence e Stirtz - June 8, 2020 3:51 pm

    must have lost something in translation, to deep for me

  13. Connie Ryland - June 8, 2020 3:59 pm

    Thanks for the smile on this wet and windy Alabama morning. Love and hugs.

  14. Linda Moon - June 8, 2020 5:00 pm

    You may have felt under dressed, Sean, but frankly I’m just glad to hear that Pete’s fiance’s family in Charleston received him and there was a wedding! A long time ago my mom and another single mom took us kids to Weeki Wachee and picked up a hitchhiker along the way. And lived to tell about it. That was during her pre-Methodist years, so I guess she was ahead of her time. She taught me that I had a smart brain that loved music, books, and movies. I’ve sometimes told my younger family members that I don’t need a smart phone, because I have a smart brain….that organ invented by God, not silicon valley. My brainful of music, books, movies and posts from Sean of the South cheer me up!

  15. Paula - June 8, 2020 5:26 pm

    What you’ve been sick? Get well ,wishes to you.

  16. janeseigel - June 8, 2020 5:48 pm

    That is an awesome story! It has made my day.😊

  17. Nancy Newby Deabler - June 8, 2020 7:29 pm

    Thanks for mentioning good Methodists. Back in the mid-90s, I was driving through the Blackwater forest in the Panhandle of Florida heading to Crestview where I lived in a Methodist parsonage. Right in the middle of the forest, on the edge of the road, were 3 young people with their guitars and backpacks. Hurricane Ivan was heading toward Pensacola and the entire Panhandle was preparing for a hurricane. I was listening to the radio about preparations when I saw these young people standing near the entrance to the campground. I stopped and they told me they had been dropped off for a Rainbow assembly and campout for the weekend and now it had been cancelled. They were all stranded. This is a long desolate road, and on a Friday night at 6 o’clock, I told them to put all their belongings in the back of my van and we headed toward Crestview. I took them to the parsonage (my husband is a Methodist minister) and fed them supper. Then I drove them to their nearest relatives in Pensacola and neigboring towns. Those young people taught me about their faith and their courage right before the storm hit Escambia County. And they learned a little about Methodists that night as well.

  18. Kristina Nilsson - June 8, 2020 8:07 pm

    Very grateful that a friend alerted me to your blog — am a daily reader and becoming almost (if I weren’t busy worshiping God) a worshiper of yours.

  19. Ann - June 8, 2020 8:30 pm


  20. Andy Gartman - June 8, 2020 10:13 pm

    I absolutely love the way you write about us Methodists!
    Your preacher buddy

  21. Toni - June 9, 2020 3:14 am

    Really feel lifted and full of joy reading this great story. Reminds me too of a lifelong friend, a lovely Methodist woman, who lives in another state from me. We were in school together, ‘infants’, primary school and high school.

    She moved to another state to work and eventually so did I. Over the years years, we visited each other. I lent her a beautiful dress to wow her man of choice, who later popped the question. She’s and her husband came to my wedding.

    I stayed with her a few years ago, and to say thank you, I invited her and her husband out to lunch. When I ordered a bottle of wine, thinking they might enjoy a glass or two, my friend said, ‘Toni, you know I don’ t drink, I am a Methodist.’

  22. Bobbie - June 9, 2020 12:38 pm

    Another awesome start to my day, altho a day late. A beautiful story. Many thanks and blessings to you and family. Let’s keep looking for the good in this time of chaos, doubt and not knowing from day to day What will happen next. The good far outweighs the bad. Never give up. Shalom❤️

  23. Martha - June 10, 2020 8:53 pm

    My Dad was a Southern Baptist and he never passed a hitch hiker without stopping and giving them a lift even tho he had a wife and 3 children already in the small sedan.

  24. Martha - June 10, 2020 8:55 pm

    Really ?

  25. Aunt Si or Martha Blackn - July 17, 2020 6:35 am

    Makes you wanna sing, “Love lifted Me!”
    It sure ‘nuf did…….

  26. Melanie - July 17, 2020 1:33 pm

    It feels good to Laugh….and to feel the heart warming up at the same time. Thank you for sharing your Gift!

  27. Murphy - July 18, 2020 3:44 am

    Nothin like fire flies to a cold bud light on a hot July night cheers luvyer inspiring stories!

  28. Bob Banks - July 18, 2020 3:27 pm

    Come to think of it, I don’t think I have picked up a hitchhiker since I moved my letter to the Baptist church.

  29. Karen K - July 19, 2020 12:22 pm

    What an awesome story? I am a Methodist and loved the Samaritan like qualities of the groom.


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