Once, I saw a middle-aged man stop four lanes of traffic, just outside Atlanta. He did it for a confused dog. The frightened thing stood in the center of the interstate, panting.
When the man loaded the dog into his car, he said, “This old fella’s gonna be nineteen tomorrow. He gets mixed-up, but he’s a good boy.”
He looked like a good boy, too.
Shreveport, Louisiana: at Waffle House. I watched a woman’s credit card get denied. Her three children had already finished their suppers. The woman hung her head and actually offered to return later and wash dishes.
The cook stepped in. “Sweetie, supper is on me.”
Without hesitation, the man removed his wallet and paid for the meal himself. Fifteen minutes later, as if on cue, four truckers tipped that man four twenty-dollar bills.
Enterprise, Alabama: I saw a child climb too high in a tree. He froze when he got to the top. A slew of parents tried to talk him down. No dice. Finally, a teenage boy kicked off his shoes and scurried up like an acrobat.
“Get on my back,” said the teenager.
That teenager carried sixty pounds all the way to the bottom. It cut up his hands and legs, but it didn’t affect his ear-to-ear grin.
Or anyone else’s.
Pensacola, Florida: outside Walmart, an elderly woman fell on the pavement. She dropped her groceries, busted her jar of pickles, and smashed her Bunny Bread. Two employees came running. They bandaged up her bloody knees, then brought her Oldsmobile to the front.
“You need a ride home?” asked one employee.
The woman covered her face. “Maybe,” she said.
The man smiled, removed his vest, and clocked out for the day.
“Someone get her a new jar of pickles!” he yelled.
Listen, I don’t know sugar from shoeshine. And I don’t have the faintest idea how life works. Truth be told, sometimes I’m unsure what the hell I even believe. God knows, this world can drain the life out of you, then bill you twelve dollars for it.
But there’s something out there. Something that makes people choose goodness. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a lot bigger than our wallets. I don’t care what you call it, I believe in it.
Just like I believe in Waffle House waitresses, truck drivers, tree-climbers, Walmart employees, and nineteen-year-old dogs.