It’s raining cats and buffalo. I’m standing in line in the hardware store, waiting to check out. I’ve had a nagging cough since this morning. And, I am in a lethargic mood—somewhere between “unenthused” and “living dead.”
I hope I’m not getting sick.
There’s a girl who joins the back of the long hardware store line. She’s Hispanic, holding a baby. She’s buying one item.
A man lets her cut ahead of him. So does another woman. And another. And ten others in line.
Soon, the girl is at the head of the line, paying the cashier.
“Tank yoo,” she says to everyone.
Everyone waves and says something like, “No problem.”
I leave the store. I jog toward my truck through the rain. My wife calls. She wants me to pick up milk, eggs, and a bottle of vitamins.
“Not the cheap kind,” she explains.
She wants the kind that require a reverse mortgage.
The supermarket—I see a man in a wheelchair. He is in the self-checkout lane. The man is missing both legs and one arm.
He stuffs his groceries into a gym bag. A woman is with him. He refuses to let her help him.
When it is time to pay, he reaches into a pocket and removes a credit card. He swipes, then places the card between his teeth and taps a digital screen.
The cashier inspects the man’s receipt, then says “Have a nice day, sir.”
“Oh, I definitely will,” the man answers.
And he seems to mean it.
After the hardware store, I drive across town to get a haircut. The lady who usually cuts my hair is named Julia. Julia is an artist. The only one who can tame this unruly red mop.
Julia is out with the flu.
The woman who trims my hair is new, from North Alabama. Her accent is pure hill country. And while she fixes the lopsided hairball that is me, I notice photographs stuck to her mirror.
A photograph of a bald man in a hospital gown. The bald man is giving two thumbs up to the camera. Another: the man poses with three girls in a hospital bed.
“That’s my dad,” she says. “He was my best friend. Three years he’s been gone. Still don’t feel real.”
No. And I don’t guess it ever will.
I tip her well because I believe in that sort of thing.
I drive home through the rain. My throat is starting to get sore. I’m not a happy camper, but I am seeing things today that are worth noting.
Like the car on the side of the road with its hazards on. A cop is changing the tire in the rain for an elderly couple.
Or the bearded man, sitting by the door of the gas station store, keeping dry. He has a backpack beside him.
While I pump, an older man in khakis passes the man on the sidewalk. Khakis hands him a plastic bag of snacks and a few bottles of Coca-Cola.
“Stay dry,” Khakis says.
The bearded man’s face lights up like Independence Day.
“God bless!” he yells.
Anyway, I wish I had something magnificent to finish this with, but I’m not a magnificent kind of guy. I’m John Q. Average who is obviously coming down with a super-cold.
I will, however, tell you what I believe:
Being nice doesn’t cost a penny. Neither does love.
But they are the only things worth living for.
Cathi - February 12, 2018 8:44 am
Kindness & love…the only two things worth living for. Oops, and dogs. My dear college friend has always said “dogs are God’s very best idea” and I have no reason to disagree. I hope your cold gets better very soon. Happy New Week!
Sue Cronkite - February 12, 2018 10:48 am
You are so right!
Susan Hammett Poole - February 12, 2018 11:47 am
AMEN. And you get well soonest, Sean. ♥
janiesjottings - February 12, 2018 12:40 pm
Late yesterday evening our van broke down. While we were waiting for the tow truck three different men stopped to see if they could help. Just when I’m ready to leave my hometown because it’s growing way too fast something like this happens. It’s easier to be nice than to be mean. Those guys who offered their help to us reminded me of that once again. Great post Sean!
Judy Ennis - February 12, 2018 1:10 pm
Your feeling poorly doesn’t seem to effect your writing. Always inspiring and keeps me more in tune to other people and their circumstances. Feel better soon???
Carolyn Allen - February 12, 2018 1:23 pm
Thanks Sean, for inspiring me everyday to be a nicer and kinder person.
Judith - February 12, 2018 1:27 pm
Feel better fast. Nice always comes out on top.
Jan - February 12, 2018 1:32 pm
Hope you feel better soon, Sean! You sure made me feel better already!
Roxanne - February 12, 2018 2:16 pm
Nice matters. Every. Single. Time. I know your sweet wife is taking care of you and your super cold.
Jack Darnell - February 12, 2018 2:17 pm
You do good even in a tough situation. I enjoy the daily visit!
Virginia liles - February 12, 2018 2:34 pm
You make my heart happy. Good way to start my day.
Mary Kehl - February 12, 2018 2:38 pm
It takes so little to make someone’s day. Live life as the Good Samaritan.
Janiver - February 12, 2018 2:50 pm
Enjoy seeing what’s real through your pen. Tip: for your mother-in-law’s sake, quarantine yourself in case you have the flu. Prayers that you don’t!
Janice Takashima - February 12, 2018 2:51 pm
Today I am grateful for your help in looking on the bright side of life. Now I will go smile at myself in the bathroom mirror. Every little bit helps. Get well soon.
Marty from Alabama - February 12, 2018 3:31 pm
Being nice doesn’t come easy for some people. They should try it; they would be amazed at what it will do for them.
On another note, be careful with that “cold.” It might be that other ugly thing making the rounds – FLU! Check in with your doctor ASAP. Don’t want my favorite writer sick. Don’t want to miss any of the daily Seanisms! Take care.
jackmokan - February 12, 2018 3:33 pm
Hope the rain stops, and the sun shines…you’ll feel better!
Phyllis Hamilton - February 12, 2018 3:59 pm
Connie - February 12, 2018 4:30 pm
I try to be nice all the time. My mom always said to treat other people like you want to be treated. My grandma said pretty is as pretty does. I’ve never been a particularly “pretty” person. I’m short and chunky and fighting gray hair, but I love people (most of the time) and my kids hate that I talk to everyone – my granddaughter tells me I have “one of those friendly faces”. But a smile goes a long way, and it doesn’t cost a dime. Being broke all the time, both literally and figuratively, sometimes a smile and a friendly ear is all someone can give, but it’s worth a lot. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.
Jody - February 12, 2018 5:20 pm
Thanks for the visit. Be well.
Frannie Keller - February 12, 2018 5:25 pm
Jack Quanstrum - February 12, 2018 5:31 pm
Laura - February 12, 2018 6:08 pm
How right you are! Sometimes I see someone in a drive-through and realize this is not a great way to earn money, but might be the only way they can. I look for something to compliment- hair, eyes or the occasional smile. Do you know that if you tell someone they have a pretty smile or pretty eyes, or…, the smile gets bigger and they feel good but you feel better!? It is true and it doesn’t cost you a penny!
Patricia Schmaltz - February 12, 2018 7:03 pm
ZINC.. overload on zinc. Get better please! We need YOU to stay healthy to report on the hearts of the world. Thank you.
Billie C. Bandstra - February 12, 2018 8:29 pm
If only we all could be so observant to those around us every day that need a smile or help.
Nancy Jane Earnest - February 12, 2018 10:00 pm
This gray gray gray weather that is warm one day and cold the next (or all in a 12 hour period in the rain) is enough to unwrinkle a prune. Stay inside and take those fancy vitamins! Mama used to call it pneumonia weather so take care.
Dru - February 13, 2018 4:31 am
And extra Vitamin C. Hot tea with lemon and honey, hot tomato soup with lemon and black pepper. Rest.
Sandra Smith - February 13, 2018 11:56 am
Hope you feel better soon Sean !
ponder304 - February 14, 2018 1:25 pm
Amen and I hope you feel better today!!!
June Pryor - February 18, 2018 6:24 am
Great column. You may have been coming down with a bug, but you brain was still in gear.
Kathleen Haas Woodbury - March 7, 2018 2:26 pm
Living the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done to you. Amen!
Hope you feel better soon!
Edna B. - March 16, 2018 9:30 am
It’s so easy to be kind and nice to folks. And the wonders that it works are awesome. Hope you weren’t down very long with your cold (or flu). Hugs, Edna B.