Late afternoon. The grocery store was busy. It was a big weekend, hurried customers played demolition derby with shopping carts.

I saw two young men shopping together. Their basket was overflowing with bachelor food. Microwave dinners, hotdogs, potato chips, Mick Ultra, spray cheese.

The youngest man was wearing cargo shorts. His right leg was disfigured. Below the knee, his leg was mostly shinbone without any visible muscle, covered in scars.

I followed the men around the supermarket because I am a writer, and writers are intrusive people.

When they reached the self-checkout lane, I was a few customers behind them in line.

An old man approached the men. They had a brief conversation. I tried to listen to their words but their voices were too quiet.

The only thing I heard the elderly man say was: “Where were you stationed?”

“Afghanistan,” the young man answered. Also, I heard the words, “ambush,” “explosion,” and “physical therapy.”

When the young men finished scanning items, the old man removed his wallet and swiped his credit card.

The young men tried to stop him, but they were too slow. The man replaced his wallet, then winked at them and said, “You snooze, you lose, fellas.”

I can still see that old man when I close my eyes. Some things stick with you, I guess.

Just like the time I saw an elderly woman in Franklin, Tennessee. Her car wouldn’t start. Three men from inside the gas station rushed to help her.

They were large men with long beards, dirty clothes, and work boots. They crawled over her car until they figured out the problem beneath the hood.

“It’s her serpentine belt!” one man finally shouted.

That was all it took. They leapt into their truck and left. After a few minutes, they returned with a new belt from the auto parts store.

The woman tried to pay them, but they refused. I heard one of the men say:

“Hey, I know how you could repay me, you could let me take you to dinner, ma’am.”

It was only a joke. This woman was old enough to remember when Colonel Sanders was still a private. But it made her laugh.

Here’s another: A few weeks ago, someone wrote me about an old man in ratty clothes who was asking for money outside Walmart.

He wasn’t there long when a man wearing a Navy-blue uniform came striding toward him. The old man got spooked. He darted away when he saw the uniform.

But the man in uniform was not there to run the man off. He was a fire-medic. He called after the elderly man, “Sir! Don’t leave! Please wait!”

The old man stopped. The fireman handed him a white plastic bag full of Chinese take-out. He asked the old man how he was feeling, and if he had any health problems.

The old man shook his head and said he was fine.

Then, the fireman handed the man a business card. “If you ever need any help, sir, come find me, I’ll hook you up.”

They tell me the old man ate fried rice and sesame chicken with both hands until he was wearing most of it.

Anyway, yesterday morning was a beautiful sunrise. I woke up early. I watched the colors over the highway. I drove to meet my cousin at a breakfast joint.

The restaurant parking lot was full. Inside were truck drivers, young professionals, families, and working-class men getting a caffeine fix.

At the table behind my cousin were men in police uniforms. They were quiet, middle-aged men with plates full of bacon. The officers were interrupted by a small blond girl who approached their table and said, “‘Scuse me, are you guys policemen?”

The men exchanged looks and smiles.

“We certainly are,” one officer said.

“I like policemen,” she said.

She was as cute as a duck in a hat.

The officer said, “Do you wanna be our new deputy, miss?”

She grinned big and nodded.

One officer removed a plastic badge from his pocket. He stuck it on the girl’s shirt. Then, he told her to hold her right hand up.

He swore her in, officially. The girl’s mother took a picture with a cellphone.

The officer added, “If you ever need us, sweetie, we’re always here to help you.”

When it was time to pay our bill, my cousin whispered to our waitress, “I wanna pay for those officers’ breakfasts, ma’am.”

Our waitress only laughed at us.

“There sure are a lotta good folks in this world,” she said. “You’re the third guy this morning who offered to do that. Sorry, but another customer beat you to it.”

Well.

You snooze, you lose.

37 comments

  1. Deborah Blount - July 28, 2022 7:17 am

    Definitely a feel good day! You snooze you loose. Thank you. I’ll be smiling all morning.

    Reply
  2. Steve McCaleb - July 28, 2022 7:26 am

    You’re the only place anybody is going to hear about any of this. On the other hand, if one of those bearded guys had taken an axe and killed the entire staff of the restaurant the whole world would know about it in 10 minutes. Go figure…….I for one could use some good news. Where’s Anne Murray when we need her ?

    Reply
  3. Steve McCaleb - July 28, 2022 7:35 am

    I almost forgot……thanks for the encouragement. We REALLY need it right now. Keep on looking for the “good” and relaying it to us. Thank you

    Reply
  4. Bill conkright - July 28, 2022 9:35 am

    Ah! Sean you rascal good stuff

    Reply
  5. mikec4193 - July 28, 2022 10:05 am

    I agree with Steve McCaleb…the world needs a lot more Sean Dietrich’s to share the good news just like Anne Murray sang about so many years now….Love this guys words….
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. imcdbw - July 28, 2022 10:18 am

    Made me cry again, Sean Dietrich! It does my heart good to hear of people ministering to others. Thank you so very, very much for your columns.

    Reply
  7. Ann Thompson - July 28, 2022 10:33 am

    Nice to start my day reading about good people. They are out there.

    Reply
  8. Liz - July 28, 2022 10:36 am

    It’s off to work I go, in a better mood! 🙂

    Reply
  9. ht - July 28, 2022 10:46 am

    On the morning after the contractor’s crew completed our deck repair charging $200 more to paint the remaining area to match the newly repaired area (far smaller), thanks for the lift.

    Reply
  10. Joy Jacobs - July 28, 2022 10:52 am

    Thanks again for making my morning. ❤️

    Reply
  11. Al - July 28, 2022 10:56 am

    Great stories! Liked the policemen story best. They deserve some love.

    Reply
  12. Paul McCutchen - July 28, 2022 11:14 am

    I wonder why the news outlets never report these news stories. I guess it would make us happy and they wouldn’t want that…I guess

    Reply
  13. Debbie Yosten Bradford - July 28, 2022 11:15 am

    Thank you for these positive lovely tales of human kindness. You have to look long and hard to find these. I really enjoy reading your columns. I especially enjoyed the AT column, having been there myself. You nailed the experience.

    Reply
  14. Steve Baccus - July 28, 2022 11:55 am

    I’ll never forget the time a young waitress wept and embraced my 80 year old Dad because he overheard her say she didn’t have the money to fix her car, and he handed her 400 dollars in cash. Good stuff about good people, Sean!

    Reply
  15. Rebecca Kaufman. - July 28, 2022 12:10 pm

    I love this. there are good people and if we keep looking for the helpers, we wil see more and more of them.

    Reply
  16. Matt Ovaska - July 28, 2022 12:22 pm

    In Malone NY. where we enjoy 2 weeks of summer. My friend owned a transmission shop’ He drove a 4 wheel drive Jeep pick up. He was upset. “What’s wrong Greg” I said as he sat at the counter next to me, at the only dinner in town, where we all knew each other. On my my here I stopped to pull a car that had slid off the road on the fresh snow. In Malone , when you slide off the road and you will; if the first car doesn’t stop the next one will. ” A new State trooper fresh from the big city, stopped and asked me if I had a wrecker license. No. She said if she ever sees me again, towing with out a license, I’ll be fined…

    Reply
  17. Priscilla Rodgers - July 28, 2022 12:39 pm

    If we would all pass it on what a great place we would live in. Thanks for sharing these Sean.

    Reply
  18. Shirlea - July 28, 2022 12:47 pm

    Mr. Handsome Redhead, after my lift from God’s Word every morning, your column is my next good news! Both are God’s gift to this hurting world. Please write until your last breath!

    Reply
    • David Britnell - July 28, 2022 1:48 pm

      There are still lots of good folks left in this world! Sure do enjoy hearing the stories!!

      Reply
    • jblackburn34 - July 28, 2022 2:29 pm

      Amen Shirlea.

      Reply
  19. Pingback: Sean of the South: Good | The Trussville Tribune

  20. MR - July 28, 2022 1:05 pm

    Thank you for writing something nice about police officers.

    The media just want to report the ‘bad apples’, when every day, across this country, men and women in blue have to deal with horrific people and circumstances so that you and I don’t have to. They see the worst of the worst, so we don’t have to, then they go home on some days and have to somehow erase the vicarious trauma of their day so that they can be good husbands, wives and parents to their children. Just as in any profession, there are some that do not belong to the good group of men and women who ‘protect and serve’, but the good ones, far far outweigh the bad apples. Thank you for writing this. Police need to know they are supported.

    Reply
  21. Cheryl Karpen - July 28, 2022 1:57 pm

    Awe inspiring! Spreading these stories is how you make the world a kinder, gentler place, Sean. May even more lives be touched today.

    Reply
  22. Donna - July 28, 2022 2:12 pm

    I really need to start reading your column BEFORE I apply my make-up. That’s on me. Like, literally, all over me. This is what we need the mainstream media to understand: bad does not sell as well as good. I wish they would just try it for a spell.

    Reply
  23. jblackburn34 - July 28, 2022 2:28 pm

    And that’s what I like about the South!

    Reply
  24. Jo - July 28, 2022 3:03 pm

    I love your Good Stories.

    Reply
    • Karen - July 28, 2022 3:40 pm

      Once again you have made my day. There are more good people in the world than not. People need to remember that.

      Reply
  25. Carol J Pilmer - July 28, 2022 3:47 pm

    Perfect Way to Start My Day! Thanks, Sean, You Did It Again!

    Reply
  26. Cynthia Russell - July 28, 2022 4:03 pm

    THANK YOU SEAN!

    Reply
  27. Sandra Jones - July 28, 2022 4:04 pm

    Heart lifting !

    Reply
  28. Judith Preuter - July 28, 2022 5:31 pm

    Love love love these feel good stories. It really cheers me up to know there are still wonderful people in the world

    Reply
  29. Cynthia - July 28, 2022 6:33 pm

    Just the kind of story I needed today, as I’m really down in the dumps. I smiled after reading about all the good people around.

    Reply
  30. Linda Moon - July 28, 2022 10:49 pm

    It’s late afternoon here – 5:44 PM. I didn’t snooze late….just got too busy to post earlier. So I’m probably repeating what others may have already said, but here goes anyway: You’re a winner, Sean Dietrich, and so very generous in your observations of the good — of which you’re one of the goodest.

    Reply
  31. Patricia Gibson - July 29, 2022 12:02 am

    Sean in today’s world, I can’t thank you enough for the frequent reminders that there are wonderful people in this world. You sure don’t get it from main stream media very often ❤️❤️

    Reply
  32. Melissa Norman - July 29, 2022 12:30 pm

    Thank you for the “feel good” stories this morning. Sun is shining and it is a beautiful day in the United States of America. We have been blessed to be living the American Dream and your column today reflects it. God Bless America!!! Thanks Sean!

    Reply
  33. ron - July 29, 2022 2:53 pm

    My day is now beginning on a feel good, positive note! Thank you.

    Reply
  34. Thomas allen - July 30, 2022 6:05 pm

    Lovely, the world really is mostly made up of good people. It’s good to be reminded of it. Angles really do come in all shapes and sizes.

    Reply

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