...While I write this the news is playing on television. The announcer reads headlines. Shootings, stabbings, rapes, racism, pressure-cooker bombs. He's using a polished, monotone voice.

Montgomery, Alabama—the meat department. I stood behind them. They were Mexican. Maybe fourteen. Faded caps. Ratty jeans. Clothes covered in dirt and mortar. Skinny as a flock of number-two pencils.

They ordered a half-pound of beef.

The butcher handed them enough wrapped packages to sink the U.S.S. Alabama.

One kid remarked, “What this? we only ask for half pound.”

The butcher said, “Aw, it’s free. I have to get rid of it. Expiration date’s today. Freeze it, it’ll last for years.”

The boys looked like they’d just discovered teeth.

One said, “God bless joo, sir.”

Pensacola, Florida—Cracker Barrel parking lot. I saw a man with his wife. Maybe it was his girlfriend. She was in a wheelchair. She had blonde hair. She couldn’t stop twitching.

He rolled her into the restaurant. She dropped her purse. He picked it up.

She moaned, “I’m so sorry, honey.”

He kissed her. “Don’t ever apologize to me, silly.”

Silly.

Macon, Georgia— Walmart. A man and his kids stood in the checkout lane. They had a basket with a few things. He swiped his card. It wouldn’t go.

The cashier said, “Sorry sir, this card’s denied.”

His face changed. He turned to leave.

The lady behind him stepped forward, removed her wallet, and said, “How much?” She paid for his groceries.

He thanked her.

She answered matter-of-factly, “I’m a single mother, I know what it’s like being broke.”

How about this one:

Defuniak Springs, Florida—I saw an elderly man with car trouble at the gas station. The clerk—in her mid-twenties—rushed outside to help. She got his car started. The man tipped her ten bucks.

The clerk took the money and said, “You have NO idea how bad I needed this today.”

So he dug into his pocket and gave her more bills. Handfuls.

Listen, while I write this the news is playing on television. The announcer reads headlines. Shootings, stabbings, rapes, racism, pressure-cooker bombs. He’s using a polished, monotone voice.

Then: more footage from the recent presidential debates, various missile launches, a Brad Pitt divorce, mushroom clouds. And in case you fell asleep, candidate polls.

I’m a nobody from nowhere. Admittedly, I drink warm beer, and I have nary a credential to my hillbilly name. I have no right to tell anyone how to do their job. Truth told, I have a hard enough time just emptying the dishwasher.

But if I may, I’d like to say something to the broadcast journalists who dredge up shocking headlines every day.

Brothers and sisters…

You’re looking in all the wrong damn places.

Try the meat department.

48 comments

  1. karen - October 27, 2016 2:22 pm

    Amen and Amen, sean of the south.
    Love this blog.

    Reply
    • Ree - January 29, 2017 8:46 pm

      I fully agree! Lift people up, give them hope, not hopelessness and fear!!

      Reply
  2. Dave Fox - October 27, 2016 2:32 pm

    Love it!

    Reply
  3. Susan Irene Fox - October 27, 2016 5:38 pm

    How absolutely lovely
    to read about kindness,
    compassion,
    grace and mercy,
    and humanity
    today.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Paulette Dugan - October 27, 2016 5:47 pm

    Good for you for posting some news that lifts me up. Keep it coming.

    Reply
  5. Maureen - October 27, 2016 9:02 pm

    Once again I am captivated by your thoughts and words. Thank you

    Reply
  6. Kate - October 27, 2016 10:44 pm

    Thanks. We needed this. Have needed it, need it, will need it.

    Reply
  7. Terri - January 26, 2017 3:37 pm

    Your stories touch my heart. I very much enjoy when you read aloud.

    Reply
  8. Connie - January 26, 2017 3:49 pm

    I’m amazed at the wonderful loving kind situations you see every day…I think I need to be more observant too. There is some good in this crazy world. You inspire me each day Sean.

    Reply
  9. Pam Germeroth - January 26, 2017 4:13 pm

    You are a breath of fresh air in this crazy, upside down world. Thank you!

    Reply
  10. Bob Holmes - January 26, 2017 4:21 pm

    Awesome Sean! Stories of the Real South!

    Reply
  11. Karen Whatley - January 26, 2017 4:44 pm

    Thank you for this uplifting post! It reminds me of the beautiful life I live each day here in rural East Texas. People are genuinely good hearted and kind. The news that I watch on television and read on a daily basis keeps me very anxious. And, while I know I cannot become ignorant of the world events, I do believe I must watch less “world” news and instead focus on my beautiful surroundings. I am blessed.

    Reply
  12. Dora Ellen lynn - January 26, 2017 5:44 pm

    Wonderful !!!! ??

    Reply
  13. Hank - January 27, 2017 12:23 am

    The only people that like the good news, are people who are also good and giving people!!!

    Reply
  14. Bonnie - January 27, 2017 12:26 am

    You always keep me grounded when it would be so easy to wander off and I thank u!!

    Reply
  15. Margo G - January 27, 2017 12:28 am

    MORE MORE MORE I LOVE GOOD NEWS

    Reply
  16. Nancy Segovia - January 27, 2017 3:14 am

    Amen and amen!

    Reply
  17. Stephen Whitlock - January 27, 2017 5:09 am

    Just got acquainted with your stories today. Reminds me of an old preacher standing before his congregation. Realizing that a whole lot of that bible living can be served up in stories of every day life. Thanks for your words and thoughts that come about. Cause just like that old preacher, I can see someone else smiling that His Word is still being told.

    Reply
  18. Joy Surrett - January 27, 2017 11:28 am

    Thank you for a breath of fresh air. It feels so good to read stories of compassion, humanity, mercy & grace. We need much more uplifting stories.

    Reply
  19. Carol Bryant - January 27, 2017 4:54 pm

    We need more news like this

    Reply
  20. carole - January 27, 2017 4:56 pm

    Inspiring!

    Reply
  21. LoriJune - January 27, 2017 5:08 pm

    Thank you for articulating kindness, compassion and goodness found all around us in this mixed up State of America. Divided we fall, United we stand and mixed up we are.

    Reply
  22. Kevin - January 27, 2017 6:23 pm

    Brad Pitt’s getting divorced?

    Reply
    • Bruce C - October 30, 2017 5:48 pm

      Loved Sean’s stories, but your comment made me laugh out loud!

      Reply
  23. Michael Doerner - January 27, 2017 6:32 pm

    Yes indeed, good sir.
    For far too long we are enmired in the muckity-muck of the mainstream me-di-umb, and are habitual informed that humanity is not but a mere flaming bag of shit, left on our porch.
    Most of us know this not to be the case. We look around at all the simple, little things and take no notice of them because we are fixated on waiting for bags of shit. Especially those on fire.
    We, and in no uncertain terms, NEED, also to realize all the things that aren’t going wrong or bad or uncomfortable, and slow our lives to a crawl again, like a baby, to look at the world again in sheer wonder, and not loathing anticipation. Tough to do, what with so many rotten babies grappling for despotic control of the world, but not unobtainable. We just need to direct our attention towards better examples.
    It is as you say, we are looking in all the wrong damn places.

    Reply
  24. Avery Sloan - January 27, 2017 7:37 pm

    Fantastic! You’re today’s Gabriel Heater.

    Reply
  25. Sara Wright - January 28, 2017 12:30 am

    As my gramma used to say, it’s on the news because it’s unusual. Even if all that bad stuff they report happens every day, it’s still vastly more unusual than the millions (yes, millions) of acts of kindness and responsible caring that happen every day. So, if it’s on the news, it’s not even close to normal life. When it’s news that all the teachers and nurses and cops and journalists and columnists showed up and did their jobs; when it’s news that neighbors helped each other out; when it’s news that strangers treated each other well – that’s when we’re in trouble.

    Reply
    • Janis Mara - January 28, 2017 6:40 am

      Sara Wright, exactly. Your post is pure poetry. It’s an unfortunate reality: People read stories about plane crashes and get scared to fly, but the odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million, while the odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 5,000. As you said – that’s why plane crashes are big news. They’re unusual. Media don’t cover car crashes usually unless it’s a fatal, because there isn’t enough room in the paper to cover all the crashes in one day.

      Michael Doerner: “or far too long we are enmired in the muckity-muck of the mainstream me-di-umb, and are habitual informed that humanity is not but a mere flaming bag of shit, left on our porch.”

      The mainstream me-di-umb, which informed you that the President of the United States had bugged the Democratic National Headquarters and engaged in political dirty tricks in the 1970s. The mainstream me-di-umb, which trumpeted that city officials in Bell, California were paying themselves lavish salaries while residents lived under the poverty line, resulting in the officals losing their jobs and more appropriate compensation for their replacements. The mainstream me-di-umb, which publicizes violations of the Clean Air Act all over the country, resulting in correction of the situation.

      Reply
  26. Dolan Ellis - January 28, 2017 5:12 am

    Beautiful writing. Beautiful message. Wonderful impact. More, more, more!
    DE

    Reply
  27. Kathy Burgess - January 28, 2017 5:37 am

    loved this. I live in Pensacola, and it is one of the nicest, friendliest places I have ever lived. I just love being from and living in the south.

    Reply
    • Thomas F. Kenny - January 28, 2017 4:40 pm

      Diana,

      Once upon a time we had a good crew. I miss it sometimes, but have internal smiling, with gratitude from the past.

      Thomas

      Reply
  28. Sue - January 28, 2017 7:13 pm

    This is the news that should be reported but rest assured all the media would put a spin on it in order to grab headlines.

    Reply
  29. Maria Bigner - January 28, 2017 8:03 pm

    I gave my last umbrellas up for two homeless guys when it started to rain, and gave them two of my extra sun guards that are made of a quilted silver material. Had to do a big U-turn on the road and sort of catch up to them as the rain had made them get up and head for the back of a nearby building. I hope more people will keep a spare umbrella around for this…. (please don’t mention my name ?)

    Reply
  30. Hannah Hanson - January 28, 2017 11:05 pm

    Thank you for observing, appreciating, and sharing these lifetime moments that depict human kindness. Without a doubt, kindness is by far the most beautiful thing in the whole wide world.

    Reply
  31. Tony McClain - January 29, 2017 10:37 am

    Yeah I have to admit I am fed up with the daily news.All it contains is weather and violence. Most Days you can put the sports in the violence section

    Reply
  32. Robin Fitzhugh - January 29, 2017 4:16 pm

    Found out when I was handing out food at our food pantry that a local gas station in Alabama lets people living in their cars spend the night and use their restroom when the shelters are full. I now buy my gas there.

    Reply
  33. Charlotte - January 29, 2017 5:33 pm

    You have no idea how much I needed THIS today.

    Reply
  34. Amber Jones - January 29, 2017 10:02 pm

    I don’t listen to the news and this is why. Rape, killings, police-involved shootings–the negative list is endless. I absolutely cannot stand it. I prefer to listen to music, upbeat podcasts, books on tape. I don’t even watch TV for the unintended violence seen on ads on commercials on G-rated show. Good post Sean Dietrich. I’m a fan!

    Reply
  35. Karen - January 30, 2017 12:41 pm

    Looking forward to your future posts.

    Reply
  36. Ruth - January 31, 2017 5:37 am

    I was picking up my family’s order at Wendy’s one February night several years ago, when a spanish/Mexican man came in and asked to speak to the manager. He asked if there was any work he could do for a meal for his family. The manager said it was against company’s policy for him to do that, he would get fired. The man stepped back and said ok and turned to go. I happen to be where I could see the car with his family. It had seen better days and had California plates. There was a woman, a 5-6 year old boy, and 4 of the most beautiful eyes belonging to 2 of the cutest twin girls peeping over the edge of the window. I asked the man “were they on the way to California”, he said no, he had a job in the valley of Texas. This would be the last night on the road and they had miscalculated their money. I told the Manger to give him what he needed, I would pick up the bill. This was a young family trying to get somewhere to start a new. They just needed a little help.

    Reply
  37. Rose Parramore - May 7, 2017 6:41 pm

    Yes, so many acts of kindness out there if we look for them; let’s reach out! love the blog!

    Reply
  38. Deanna - May 7, 2017 7:05 pm

    Amen!!!!! I try so hard to be one of Gods Angels!

    Reply
  39. Joellen Henson - May 7, 2017 9:09 pm

    If you are ever in Birmingham I would love to meet you. I look for your blog first thing in the morning.

    Reply
  40. Scotty - October 30, 2017 10:38 am

    I think God just steered me here and said, “Read this, it’ll help.”

    Reply
  41. Gus - April 1, 2018 11:13 pm

    I’m out in it every day. I work all over Jefferson & surrounding counties. Best I can do is lend folks a hand & pretty much always give a few $ to anyone asking, and there’s plenty of them around Birmingham. Not my business what they do with it. Life will certainly beat you down if you let it. Just try to be good & nice to others. God certainly blesses me back.

    Reply
  42. Jody - April 2, 2018 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the reminder that we can make a difference Kindness comes from our heart.

    Reply
  43. Thomas crank - April 2, 2018 4:14 pm

    You are a breath of fresh air in this worldly Forrest fire of smoke and flames,. You have the ability to turn our eyes inward and do a quick exam. of who and what is happening with us and our neighbors and the world around us.

    You actually make us open our eyes the the real world outside of the evening News. The good that is in each of us, the hurts we each have suffered along life’s journey. The bank account that just didn’t quite have enough in it to cover your groceries. That feeling of embarrassment , And the joy of that stranger who just stepped up gave you that money to help you feed your family.

    Oh how we wait for that man on the six.oclock news , to Say: Brothers and Sisters , there is NO BAD NEWS TODAY, ALL IS GOOD.

    THANK YOU SEAN FOR THE GOOD NEWS TODAY.

    TOM Crank. Greenville , South Carolinas
    tmcal45@yahoo.com

    May God continue to Bless you..

    Reply
  44. i i - November 7, 2019 6:13 pm

    Montgomery, Alabama—the meat department. I stood behind them. They were Mexican. Maybe fourteen. Faded caps. Ratty jeans. Clothes covered in dirt and mortar. Skinny as a flock of number-two pencils.

    They ordered a half-pound of beef.

    The butcher handed them enough wrapped packages to sink the U.S.S. Alabama.

    One kid remarked, “What this? we only ask for half pound.”

    The butcher said, “Aw, it’s free. I have to get rid of it. Expiration date’s today. Freeze it, it’ll last for years.”

    The boys looked like they’d just discovered teeth.

    One said, “God bless joo, sir.”

    Pensacola, Florida—Cracker Barrel parking lot. I saw a man with his wife. Maybe it was his girlfriend. She was in a wheelchair. She had blonde hair. She couldn’t stop twitching.

    He rolled her into the restaurant. She dropped her purse. He picked it up.

    She moaned, “I’m so sorry, honey.”

    He kissed her. “Don’t ever apologize to me, silly.”

    Silly.

    Reply

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