Just before midnight. Somewhere on the Texas prairie. A 20-year-old named Mark was driving on a two-lane highway on his way home.
You have to be careful when driving on an empty prairie. It’s easy to develop “prairie foot.” On a flat landscape, without landmarks, your foot tends to get heavy on the gas pedal. It’s not hard to travel upwards of 200 miles per hour by accident.
Mark saw flashing hazards ahead. A broken down truck with a horse trailer attached. He pumped his brakes and pulled over. And in the rural tradition of all who wear roper boots, he was ready to help.
“Need a hand?”
A young woman slid from beneath the truck chassis. She had grease smudges on her face. She was holding a scissor jack. And she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
Mark felt his breath get stuck in his throat.
She smiled. “Sorry. No speak’a the Inglés too good.”
Her truck had a flat tire. In her passenger seat was a silent elderly woman. The girl had been under the vehicle looking for the jackpoint on the old Silverado, which can be dangerous business for the uninitiated.
“Allow me,” Mark said, already on the pavement.
It turned out to be a bigger problem than he’d expected. Her spare tire was shot, worn to the canvas. There was no way she was getting home on that thing.
Mark attached the horse trailer to his own truck and told her he’d take them home. But where did she live? Her jumbled English made it impossible to understand her directions.
So the girl drew him a map. And since there was no paper in Mark’s truck to write upon, she used a Sharpie to draw the route on Mark’s hand.
He presented her his hand, which was trembling when she wrote upon it.
It was 2 A.M. when he reached her aunt’s house. He led the horse into the barn, he helped the old woman inside, he disconnected the bumper-pull trailer, and promised to return the next morning.
Return he did. And when Mark arrived, he was driving the formerly broken-down truck into the driveway, newly outfitted with four all-season tires. The tires cost Mark most of his meager savings.
Then he asked the girl on a date. Her name is Leticia.
Here’s another story for you.
I got a letter from Rachel, in North Georgia, who told me about a stray dog in her neighborhood. Rachel went online to see if anyone could figure out where the dog came from. To her surprise she located the owner.
But when Rachel arrived at the owner’s house, something felt wrong. The owner wasn’t a friendly man, and the dog seemed terrified.
The owner jokingly remarked that he wished the dog would’ve been hit by a car. The comment was supposed to be humorous, Rachel supposed, but it wasn’t.
So Rachel made a bold move. She offered to take the dog off his hands and discovered the owner was more than happy to say goodbye. He charged her a lot of money. Rachel gladly paid the sum.
The poor dog didn’t even have a name.
So Rachel brought the old boy home and bathed him in her shower. She let him sleep in her bed. She fed him half the contents of her fridge. She named him Walter.
This might not sound like the greatest story ever told, but I bet Walter has a different opinion.
Which brings me to another story.
Shortly after I wrote those last few paragraphs, just when I thought I was finished with this shoddy column, I got an email message from a woman in San Diego, California.
I have never been to San Diego. I have never met this woman. But we have something in common. She is a Sherlock Holmes freak. And I myself share the same crippling affliction.
When I was 10 years old my father introduced me to Sherlock and I became a kid forever obsessed.
In 1957, her mother gifted her a complete volume of Sherlock Holmes stories. The book was heavy, and thicker than a family Bible. The inside cover read: “Happy birthday. Love, Mom.”
Her mother died the following year.
In 1963, she got married and moved to Japan with her husband. Half their possessions went to goodwill and storage, the other half got shipped off to the Land of the Rising Sun. The Holmes book was lost.
When she moved back to the States she searched everywhere, rummaging through storage, but she found nothing. Finally she gave up.
Fifty-eight years later, she visited a San Diego antique store by chance. And by now, you’ve already figured out where this story is going.In the store, the woman found a book with familiar handwriting inside:
“Happy birthday. Love, Mom.”
The store priced the book at $40 bucks. The clerk asked the woman why she was weeping over a $40 book. Susan smiled and told the cashier, “I woulda paid a thousand for this book.”
So I know sometimes you’re tempted to think about how horrible things are on the Highway of Human Existence. But when you feel blue, pause for a moment. Think of that antique book. Think of Walter the dog, eating a frozen burrito alongside his new human.
Think of the Texas Plains, a 20-year-old boy in boots, and a Mexican girl, drawing a roadmap on the boy’s palm. They’ve been married for four years now.
Don’t tell me this world is all bad.
Steve Winfield (lifer) - February 20, 2023 8:52 am
It’s never bad when we have you digging up these great stories for us.
Tom Harmon - February 20, 2023 9:32 am
Please don’t call your writing a shoddy column. It is a light.
bjcovington - February 20, 2023 9:35 am
Lovely stories of everyday life that become very special! Thanks
Linda Hubbard - February 20, 2023 10:07 am
Love your writing! 💕❤️
Renee Welton - February 20, 2023 11:27 am
♥️♥️♥️ Weeping happy tears!
Teresa Marie Radwan - February 20, 2023 11:49 am
thank you these stories made my day
Matt Ovaska - February 20, 2023 12:02 pm
Paul Harvey told a story of a female who had driven off the road in Montana and got stuck dangerously close to a steep cliff. She tried to hail down a car for help but they whizzed by.(probably had a California tag). Then to her horror, she saw a large group of bikers coming her way. She stood by her car hoping they would drive by. No. They all stopped. Accessing the situation, they gathered a few chains and blocked the road and stopped the next car on the road, instructed the driver to back up to the female’s car, attached the chain to both cars, instructed the driver to pull the car back on the road, detached the chain, thanked the driver for his help and let him go his way. There you go mam, they said to the female, and continued their ride,,,
Kam - February 20, 2023 12:25 pm
You make my day, every day!
mccutchen52 - February 20, 2023 1:00 pm
Thanks Sean, sometimes I need to start my day without eyedrops.
Becky Kaufman - February 20, 2023 1:37 pm
Of course the world isn’t all bad. I’m 79: I woke up this morning; our son called last night to let us know he was home in Charleston after being in Raleigh for the hockey game outside complete fake snow; the sun is shining; the forsythia (or yellow bells as they are sometimes called around here); the fat squirrels are doing acrobatics on the new bird feeder; and Journey, our new-to-us Golden Retriever seems happy to end her life journey in a forever home.
Francina Fluker - February 20, 2023 1:51 pm
If you are a lover of the Sherlock Holmes stories, you should check out the books by Laurie King, who wrote about Mary Russell and how she became friends of the retired detective when he left London and moved to the moors in the south of England to observe the habits of honey bees. There are about a dozen books, featuring Russell and Holmes – all delightful reading as they travel the globe unraveling mysteries.
donnablair - February 20, 2023 1:54 pm
I’ll bet you could fill a book with good things people have done….wait, have you already done it?
Kathy Franklin - February 20, 2023 2:04 pm
Sometimes your stories about the good things in the world come just when I need it. Sometimes I don’t particularly need it, but your story just made my day better. Today is some of those days. Thanks, Friend.
AL - February 20, 2023 2:09 pm
Continue to preach the Gospel of Good News Sean. I believe that this country and world is full of good news BUT it rarely fits the current narrative of the media. So, one person, like you, can make a difference.
Susan W Fitch - February 20, 2023 2:16 pm
Thanks, I needed this!
vic Yepello - February 20, 2023 2:19 pm
I treasure the day I found you and your column. Thank your this. And my Facebook friends now can thank you.
Brenda French - February 20, 2023 2:20 pm
You just have to look for the good. I am moving to Florida this year. It is a work in progress. I belong to a Facebook group called moving to Florida. There is a fellow on there who goes by the name Hay Gee. I have no idea what his real name is. He however posts the most uplifting and positive comments. He usually ends by saying Florida doesn’t suck. I have committed to him that when I finally get moved I will continue his positive outlook. See you in Nashville. I bought tickets for my husband and I as our Christmas gifts as soon as I heard you would be there.
Steve McCaleb - February 20, 2023 2:22 pm
Thank you for reminding us. I sometimes wonder how people who don’t read your daily offerings make it thru the day.
Bkr - February 20, 2023 2:26 pm
Whoo! I do love your heart! Love this!
Carla Walrath - February 20, 2023 2:53 pm
Love, love, love these stories! God bless you for all these “feel good”, true stories that bless each of us in so many ways! You are a wonderful person, Sean! Thank you. Hugs!
David Britnell - February 20, 2023 3:14 pm
Sure enjoyed these stories!
Joyce Bennett - February 20, 2023 3:15 pm
You bring the heart every single day! Thank you, Sean.
Stacey Wallace - February 20, 2023 3:17 pm
Sean, as I used to tell my students, “Be one of the good people so that the good outnumber the bad.” Thank the Good Lord, they still do. Love to you, Jamie, Marigold, Otis Campbell, and Thelma Lou.
Cherie - February 20, 2023 3:56 pm
Thanks for the words of hope. The news these days can be awfully depressing when it comes to the humanity of man (woman).
Helen De Prima - February 20, 2023 3:56 pm
Keep sharing the Good, Sean.
John - February 20, 2023 4:02 pm
Good stuff! As of late, I have a new favorite writer. God bless!
Judy Inman - February 20, 2023 4:24 pm
Sean, I’m so happy to have discovered you! Your interview with Andy Andrews is how you came to my arrention, and I will be forever grateful to Andy!
Patricia Gibson - February 20, 2023 4:29 pm
Made my day!!!
Gayle Wilson - February 20, 2023 4:46 pm
Sean, you are right the world is not as bad as we think. Just look outside yourself, and not the news, and you will know that. And I am sure there is a beautiful blind dog named Marigold that knows the world is not all bad – she found you and Jamie 🙂
Barbara Reynolds Mayo - February 20, 2023 4:47 pm
Amen, and thank you❣️
Peggy M. Windham - February 20, 2023 4:54 pm
Love, love all of these! Thank you!
Christine Foust - February 20, 2023 5:02 pm
Love this! Thank you for sharing your stories. I love your voice and turn of phrase.
rdo333 - February 20, 2023 5:11 pm
Robyn - February 20, 2023 5:18 pm
Thank you Sean…i needed possibilities today…
B Wood - February 20, 2023 5:18 pm
I am thrilled to be a recipient of these writings. I was intrigued by “The Incredible Winston Browne” and completely hooked by the time I got to “You are My Sunshine”. A friend from Alabama told me about your columns. So uplifting
Judy - February 20, 2023 5:21 pm
You make my day!
Your cuz from a neighboring county in Florida!
Linda Moon - February 20, 2023 6:15 pm
If I ever think about that Human Highway you told us about, I’ll think of a good man called Sean Dietrich. And that will make me feel good I, tell you!
Ginga Smithfield - February 20, 2023 6:33 pm
Thanks Sean! I needed something to pull me out of a case of the blahs!!
Karen Snyder - February 20, 2023 6:35 pm
The “good guys” seldom make the news. Thanks for telling their stories and reminding us that they’re everywhere.🧡
Amber - February 20, 2023 7:18 pm
We sure enjoyed meeting you (and especially Marigold!) in Columbus Saturday evening…I’m still laughing trying to explain things to my “transplanted to Auburn” friend! There’s nothing like a small, Southern church and I’m thankful that I was raised in one:)
johnny vestal blevins - February 20, 2023 7:29 pm
JOHN SWETNAM - February 20, 2023 7:53 pm
Someone commented that you preach the gospel of good news, but then you know already that the Gospel is the good news. What you do is call our attention every day to a few of the points of light of the Gospel. I think it helps me see the path more clearly. Thanks.
halloween44 - February 20, 2023 7:57 pm
Mt. Pleasant, SC. Elliott, my sixteen year old terrier, was giving me all the signs he could muster from his frail, old body to tell me it was time. Of course I was avoiding the decision with late night trips to the Emergency room and our local Vet, who, by the way, along with my wife, agreed with Elliott. When there were no more excuses, my wife and I loaded Elliott in the car for once last trip to the Vet.
Veterinarians are cast into this situation daily and handle it with tenderness and skill and insured me that I had made the right decision and that Elliott was ready. The procedure was handled delicately and with patience alowing me time for my last minutes with him. Sobbing I held him like a baby to my face and he actually licked the salty tears from my cheeks. In minutes he was gone. The logical decision did not soothe my shattered heart.
As is the practice at this Vet, a sign hangs on the door outside the examination room that says something like “Quiet please, a family is spending its last moments with a dear member of the family”.
Pulling myself together I went to pay for the service and on approaching the desk was told that a new customer had seen the sign on the door and paid for the service on Elliott’s behalf.
This random act of Kindness will, like Elliott, stay with me forever.
Lance Yeates - February 20, 2023 9:08 pm
Mel Levy - February 20, 2023 9:36 pm
Thank you, Sean, for yet another “make my eyes leak” column….i so hope i get to meet you one day…
John Neate - February 20, 2023 11:33 pm
Brilliant – Great stories, it is super to know that stories like these do happen !
Karen - February 21, 2023 12:25 am
I still believe in the goodness of people. I wish the media would focus on them. Thank you.
MAM - February 21, 2023 2:23 am
You are so correct, Sean. Good is all around us if we just pay attention. Turn off the TV (we don’t have one!), ignore the headlines, and go out and talk to your neighbors. I try to walk 3 miles every day, and often I join neighbors out walking their dogs. I know we don’t agree politically, so we don’t talk politics. We just chat about this, that and the other. And we are all friends, because good is all around us.
Patricia - February 21, 2023 7:20 am
Thanks Sean for reminding us of the good in this old tarnished world!
Cindy Gallop - February 21, 2023 12:46 pm
You keep the flame of good alive….thank you! May we, too, join in and light those candles!
rlaschober - February 21, 2023 2:23 pm
Nice diversion for your column
George Robert Leach - February 21, 2023 4:35 pm
This world is bad! So bad it is good. This world is made up of billions of good, everyday people, with a few bad nonhumans at the top. The goodies outstrip the baddies. Thank you for pointing this out.
Cheryl Yarborough - February 22, 2023 1:29 pm
I love your stories!! Thank you for this. If people would just do the right thing, it’s so easy and this story gives everyone hope.
Mize Rosemary - February 22, 2023 1:58 pm
Sheri K - February 22, 2023 6:56 pm
Sean, between your column and halloween44’s comment, I’m sitting here under the dryer at my favorite salon CRYING! I hate to cry in public!!
KG - February 24, 2023 12:19 am
Kleenex required. These stories are the good that need to be shared. Ty for your kindness!
charles Farrell - February 24, 2023 2:09 pm
Lots good out there even this crazy world we find our kids, grands and greats sharing. Loving, hoping and praying for Jesus to watch over the USA.
Cheryl Yarborough - February 24, 2023 3:30 pm
Thank you for your stories, they make me happy, pause and reflect on everyday life and good people and how important kindness is!❤️
Angela G Hobby - February 28, 2023 1:06 am
My husband has been a Sherlock Holmes fan as long as I’ve known him-over 50 years. He has several complete sets of Holmes books. One of our 13-year old grandsons was always reading those books whenever he came over. I had been hounding my husband to weed his collection so he decided to give one of his Holmes sets to that particular grandson for his 12th birthday. Then our other grandson who is the same age got interested and Mac, my husband, gave another of his Holmes collections to that grandson this past Christmas. It was a win-win-win situation!
Gayle Bailey - March 20, 2023 5:46 pm
I am heartbroken! Ever since e you switched to that new system, I’ve missed my morning dose of “Sean”. I hate it! I’ve tried to sign up & nothing happens.