A crowded lunch joint. Seated beside me is a man reading a newspaper. I glance at a sobering headline that reads: “Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy.” The man with the paper sighs, and folds it closed.
Meanwhile, the television above the bar rolls shocking footage of a shooting. This is followed by reporters talking about deaths due to coronavirus.
Then come pharmaceutical commercials by the dozen. After that, a legal commercial about how to sue pharmaceutical companies.
The waitress looks at the TV and says, “Hot awmighty, they never tell you anything good do they?”
She changes the channel. The TV shows a riot. She changes it again. On the television screen are two men in suits shouting at each other with spittle flying. She flips again. The news announcer says: “Two more deaths from the coronavirus, experts say you should all run for your…”
Mercifully, she turns the television off.
A man at the bar says, “Thank you.”
Another man raises a coffee mug. “‘Preciate that.”
And you get the feeling that everyone here is about to applaud.
The mood improves considerably. Pretty soon the waitress is playing music overhead. I hear a steel guitar intro. It’s George Strait, singing about Amarillo. And color is being restored to the world. Thank you, George.
The waitress warms up my coffee and I’m feeling a lot better now. Certainly, I know the universe is full of bad things, but it’s full of good things, too. And sometimes I wish that I heard more about them.
A few nights ago, for instance, I heard about one such item. I met a man who told me about angels.
“Angels?” I asked him.
“Yes, angels,” he said.
The man was white-haired. He looked like your favorite granddaddy. He spoke with a thick Georgia accent and wore plaid.
“I was driving home late,” he began. “Crashed into a log truck.”
His wife held one of his arms while he leaned onto a cane. He showed me photos of the auto accident. His car looked like a Weltmeister accordion.
He touched the scar on his neck. “The logs hit me right here. Had to have surgery, they cut me open and replaced C-seven with a cadaver bone and titanium. I shouldn’t be walking right now. It’s a miracle I wasn’t decapitated.”
His wife elbowed him, “But tell him about the angel.”
“Oh yeah, the angel.”
“Tell him about how he saved you.”
“Right, well, I was…”
“Go on, tell him.”
“Dadgum it, I will if you let me.”
A stranger came out of nowhere and dragged him from the wreckage. The stranger instructed him not to move his head, then he used both hands to hold the old man’s neck in place for forty minutes until paramedics came. The stranger saved his life.
In the end, the accident wounded a lot more than the old man’s body. A mind is never really the same after trauma.
“They said I had PTSD,” he went on. “I couldn’t get behind the wheel of my car, I was terrified.”
His wife elbowed again. “Tell him about the road trip.”
“Right. Well, I was…”
“Tell him about the trip across the United States.”
He looks at her.
After he healed, they took the trip of a lifetime. He and his wife spent twenty-four days driving U.S. highways and seeing North America at eye level. He forced himself to get back in the saddle. It took a while to get his courage back, but he did it.
They had so much fun that as soon as they got home, they turned the car around and did the trip a second time.
“Tell him about the catfish house,” his wife went on.
One night they were in a catfish joint when he heard a voice coming from another booth. He recognized this voice. The old man approached a stranger and asked, “Excuse me, sir, your voice sounds familiar, do you know me?”
The guy recognized him all right. The guy said, “Oh my God, you look a lot different than when I found you in that car.”
The old man’s eyes were turning wet when he retold this story to me. So were mine.
“It was the angel,” his wife said.
“Yeah,” the old man said. “It certainly was.”
Why is it that the worst things in humanity get the most airtime? If you want to be scared to death, all you have to do is turn on the television and an anchor will tell you about how the universe is falling apart and how drinking water will kill you.
Believe me, I’m not here to throw stones at journalists. Shooting rubber bands at them? Maybe. But I draw the line at stones.
Still, if you ask me, there is a lot more in the world than what’s on the screen. There are miracles. There are men who have been saved by angels who eat catfish when they’re off duty. Good things happen everywhere, all the time, they just don’t sell many newspapers.
The waitress asks if I’m ready to pay my bill. I tell her I am. I thank her for the George Strait music. And for turning off the TV.
“No problem,” she says. “I don’t watch the news anymore, brings me down. Hot awmighty, I got enough crap to deal with, I wanna hear something good.”
Hot awmighty. Me too.
Cathi Russell - February 21, 2020 6:48 am
You’re one of the good things too, Sean. Thanks!
grantburris - February 21, 2020 7:29 am
So, angels like catfish too? You’re right,Sean. That was good.
Leigh Amiot - February 21, 2020 9:50 am
So thankful the older gentleman lived to tell his story and that you got to retell it!
oldlibrariansshelf - February 21, 2020 9:58 am
Just yesterday three men ran toward a burning wrecked semi and pulled the driver out seconds before its tank of jet fuel exploded. Yes, there is good!
Thanks for reminding us to look beyond the bad news for the good in people!
Ted Leach - February 21, 2020 10:06 am
A+. Thank you!
Meredith Smith - February 21, 2020 10:11 am
No truer words spoken Sean. When I was in college I was all ready to become a journalist and tell the news to the world. But I became distraught after the first year, noticing what you described in today’s column…lots of stories of sadness, people living on others’ misfortunes, just plain old sorrow. I decided I didn’t want to be a part of that. So I changed my major and went onto a completely different life’s work. However I had a little brother that lived and breathed what his big sister wanted, and he decided that he wanted journalism someday too.
Well he followed up on his dream. Now he’s a Journalist for a paper in a southwestern town, writing all day long. He has his own little niche, which doesn’t feed on others misfortunes, so I’m happy about that. Glad my little brother turned my fear into a fortune for himself!
Jessica Williams - February 21, 2020 11:21 am
Loved reading this first thing this morning.
I am such a journalist. Newspaper reporter. But just a small town one. Not a known one. We’ve met LOL. But I only do “feel good” stories. No politics. No negativity. So I stay in that “unpopular” arena. Lol. But I’m good with that. It’s amazing how happy people get when they’re life story is in the paper in an inspirational way. Most of all, I learn from the people I meet. They change me. That’s what being a journalist is, to me anyway.
Elizabeth - February 21, 2020 11:22 am
And you and your morning dose is one of my good things. Brings my joy.
Jo Ann - February 21, 2020 11:32 am
Thank you, again, Sean. We all ( or most of us, I think) “wanna hear something good.” There are good people around us, lots of them, but, unfortunately, we seldom hear or read about them. I read your column every morning, it starts my day off right, with positive thoughts.
Terri - February 21, 2020 11:51 am
Hot awmighty! Love you much Sean.
Marilyn - February 21, 2020 12:32 pm
You hit the nail on the head for sure! If more positive was being spread,there would create a windfall of positivity! Thank you for making my morning coffee even better with your stories.
Denise DeVries - February 21, 2020 12:34 pm
There really hear about that.is more good in this old world. I’d much rather
Carol L Parker - February 21, 2020 12:52 pm
Excellent writing today. I just joined and love your writings. They start my day off with a smile.
Jim Thomssen - February 21, 2020 1:32 pm
Sean, You nailed it again. THANK YOU!
We need journalism to keep us informed but I’d like to pick what I read rather than stand in front of the firehose of negativity known as TV news.
There is good in the world. You are proof. Thanks again.
Connie Havard Ryland - February 21, 2020 1:44 pm
You are my daily dose of good. Thank you.
Jan - February 21, 2020 1:47 pm
Amen and amen!!!
Debbie Galleher - February 21, 2020 2:15 pm
That story is good on so many levels ❤️
People choosing to see & find the good in life( George Strait) and choosing to turn off the bad! ( news)
People who have been through something horrific- and they choose to get behind the wheel of life and keep going .( not always easy)
Angels who come out of nowhere to help you and then somehow that angel appears again in your life- no coincidence.
Thank you Sean for sharing this story with us .
It is so comforting to be reminded of these things❤️
Tana Newman Branch - February 21, 2020 2:47 pm
Hot Almighty —I needed this today! At 77, I’m standing in chairs in waiting rooms and changing channels. I’m done! No more shouting fools from either political party on any network. I just won’t tolerate being in the same room with any of it. Tell me about the angels and I’ll listen all day. Or, Netflix or Prime so I can choose the level of entertainment for myself. Or, of course, your pods, Sean!
Shelton A. - February 21, 2020 2:54 pm
I let my subscription to the newspaper run out and stopped watching the news…life is actually better.
Hambone - February 21, 2020 3:01 pm
If we all cut off our televisions and not buy all the stuff on commercials and not watch professional football, et c maybe they couldn’t afford to pay those guys $22 million. I know a doctor who has saved many lives and didn’t get paid for half of what he did never saw a six figure income!
Just turn off the TVs!!
P. Morgan - February 21, 2020 3:21 pm
Hot awmighty! Me too! Thanks, Sean
Lita - February 21, 2020 3:44 pm
Today, I stepped away from Twitter and Facebook and felt the same measure of relief as I do when I turn off the TV news. So much end-of-the-world fire comes from so many sources.
Coming quietly into the atmosphere you’ve created here, is like having time with an angel. Thank you, Sean.
Tom Wallin - February 21, 2020 4:43 pm
Sean, Amen and aint it the truth. Thanks to all the angels in the world who do good deeds every day.
Linda Moon - February 21, 2020 4:46 pm
TV Shows – mercifully we are now watching movies we’ve selected instead of programs some TV executive puts on air. And, we’re listening to good music a lot, like George Strait or Vivaldi. The familiar voice of the Angel caused my jaw to drop while reading! Thank the Awmighty, I was with Angels a couple of days ago who do lots of Somethings Good. And that reminds me of more good Sounds of Music. There is goodness around us and Angels, too, when we’re lucky enough to see one that shows up in a Catfish Joint or on a familiar blog!!
Ala Red Clay Girl - February 21, 2020 5:17 pm
While I can’t escape from all the bad in the world, I have eliminated a lot of it by turning off the TV and canceling the newspaper. It’s given me more time to concentrate on the happier things of life….like reading your posts every morning!
Karen Good - February 21, 2020 6:38 pm
Love this story! ❤️
Anne Arthur - February 21, 2020 6:55 pm
And a good story it is. Thanks!
Gordon - February 21, 2020 8:35 pm
I’m there with you and many others, Sean. I hardly ever watch the national news anymore. There are many, many great, positive stories out there that should be told. Thanks for this wonderful story!
Celia - February 21, 2020 8:43 pm
Well, I’m reading and crying even though my husband worries when I cry. I think we all have angels that have protected us during our lives…those strange occurrences we can’t explain. Sadly, angels are probably working overtime in today’s world because of all those bad things happening like we hear on the news. How very uplifting to read this man’s two experiences with a stranger. Bless them both. And you too, Sean.
Gale Smith - February 22, 2020 12:02 am
Amen and hot almighty. Hearts are always trumps for me. Would much rather read about the angels among us than all the bad stuff. You are the voice of the everyday unsung heroes, Sean.
Sue Riddle Cronkite - February 22, 2020 2:24 am
Wonderful story. The reason I wrote the book, to show some fun, some warmth, friendship, and love that makes life worth living.
Nancy M - February 22, 2020 5:31 am
You are the bringer of good news. You nearly always write about good people or happy endings. Everyday people going about their everyday lives, making the world a better place for those who know them. And for all of us who read about them in your column. Thank you!
Linda Steele - February 22, 2020 1:48 pm
Try the Christian Science Monitor. They publish many stories of good and hope. Thank you for yours.
Sonya Tuttle - February 22, 2020 9:55 pm
Don’t watch tv anymore, don’t want negativity in my life.
Donna - March 28, 2020 8:58 am
So much truth here. We need a news network that tells nothing but good! Thanks again Sean!