To tell you the truth, I have never had a big urge to travel overseas. I guess I should be embarrassed about that. After all, there’s so much to see.

BIRMINGHAM—I am eating hotel breakfast in the dining room. This past year, my wife and I have stayed in nearly sixty thousand hotels. That is only an estimate. And I rounded down.

I have become so accustomed to hotels that when I fall asleep in my own bed it feels weird. Sometimes, in the middle of the night I wake up expecting our bedroom to be laid out like a hotel room. You can imagine my surprise when I stumble over an eighty-pound bloodhound and nearly break my neck.

But I have grown to enjoy hotels. Some are WAY better than others. I have become a connoisseur of the conntinental breakfast, which is a French word for “cardboard-tasting eggs.”

This week I have been doing my one-man shows in different cities, and I have more engagements ahead of me this coming month. In fact, we are going to be in Pennsylvania, New York, and—I can hardly believe this—Canada.

Until this stage of life, I had never traveled anywhere. In fact, I have never done anything worth scrapbooking.

I remember when my friends would return from their world adventures and show me pictures. I would get jealous. Having to look at someone else’s happy vacation pictures is a special kind of hell.

You have to pretend to be interested while they relive every painstaking moment of euphoria from their four-week trip to Spain.

“That’s me and Buffy!” the friend might say, “And here’s us doing cartwheels in Barcelona! And here we are jet-skiing with supermodels! And here’s Buffy and I bungee jumping over the La Sagrada Familia, and we were buck naked!”

And you just smile and nod.

Because I have no gauge for what world travel is like. Furthermore, I was raised fundamentalist and have therefore never been naked. My mother said I was born wearing corduroy pants and Hush Puppies.

To tell you the truth, I have never had a big urge to travel overseas. I guess I should be embarrassed about that. After all, there’s so much to see.

But to me there is still a lot I want to see in America. Yosemite, for instance. Yellowstone, Acadia, Niagara, Talladega, etc.

At one time I wanted to visit all the American national parks. And I really got jazzed up about this. My wife and I promised ourselves we were going to do it. We were going to hike, eat lunch on the Appalachian Trail, see the cool things this country had to offer.

But my boss at the time wouldn’t let me off work because he was a greasy little twerp. My dreams sort of died a slow death, and it was my own fault. I should’ve quit that job.

Somewhere along the way, I started writing about my own life. Since I had nothing else to do, I began writing about things from my home in the South. About fishing, little service stations that serve great tater logs, and the sign on I-65 that says “Go To Church Or The Devil Will Get You.”

And oddly enough, it led me here. A period of life where we do lots of traveling. For the first time in my life I have gotten to see a few things I’ve always wanted to see. Like hotel rooms, and continental breakfast sausages made from 100% meat-like product.

I haven’t seen many big things, but I’ve seen tons of little things. Things that might not mean much to some, but they mean everything to me.

Like the small potluck in Kentucky, on the Missouri border, where they served very strange food.

The time in the Texas Panhandle, when I ate barbecue brisket while staring at an alien landscape of wind turbines.

The time in Abilene, when I saw a child driving his disabled grandfather around town in a truck. The kid looked maybe ten.

The time my wife and I saw the sun hanging over Bear Mountain, Arizona, surrounded by miles of colored rocks. We had hiked for three hours until we were so tired that we started crying from exhaustion. Also, because I had forgotten to pack our sandwiches.

I’ve done shows in several states now. But I feel like I should admit something to anyone who has ever come out to see me perform:

I was never supposed to be doing this. Sometimes it all feels like one big accident. I have no earthly clue how this happened, or why, or if God mashed the wrong buttons on his Heavenly remote controller.

The only experience I have telling stories comes from memories of my father, seated on our porch swing, shirtless, running his mouth. I am not a professional anything, and I am not even sure I know what I am. I am just some ordinary guy who never figured out how to load a dishwasher.

And I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t deserve your hospitality to me. Because in my heart, I still feel like that you h man who had a crummy job, working for a greasy little twerp.

Even so, I hope you know how grateful this little twerp (me) is. Not just for coming to my shows, not just for the hugs. But for caring about me, for writing me letters, for inviting me to your potlucks, for making me feel that I finally have a place in this world.

Most importantly, thank you for reading this.

These hotel eggs are god-awful.

47 comments

  1. Becky Williamson-Martin - September 28, 2019 9:06 am

    Truly there is “no place like home”. But The Lord commands us to love and to “go”, right? I’m thankful you traveled to Aliceville recently so I had the opportunity to meet you in person. I so enjoy reading your blog about down to earth stories that make me laugh and so much I can relate to. Keep running along side that train and stay close to your roots no matter where you go.
    Becky Williamson-Martin
    Samantha, Alabama
    http://beckywilliamson-martin.com

    Reply
  2. sharon - September 28, 2019 9:16 am

    It isn’t necessary to make me read your columns I do it because I enjoy. To laugh or shed a tear, its all part of life and you are gracious enough to share your life with us.

    Reply
  3. Marilyn Ward Vance - September 28, 2019 9:22 am

    Thanks for sharing small town America with us, for finding the good people who are out there and writing about them and I agree with you about the eggs! I am convinced God pushed the right button all along!

    Reply
  4. Martha Black - September 28, 2019 9:48 am

    God pushed the right button and sent us a wonderful friend that helps us calm ourselves into believing we’re alright afterall and everything little things gonna work out just the way it should and we’ll get through this life together even if it wasn’t what we expected or planned it to be. Just keep on going, sweetheart, you’re doing good…….. your 65 yr old admirer and friend, Martha. You can call me Aunt Martha if you like, most everybody’s got one….. well, in the movies they make it seem that way…..lol.

    Reply
    • Jon Dragonfly - September 28, 2019 1:40 pm

      Amen, Aunt Martha.

      Reply
  5. Patricia - September 28, 2019 9:52 am

    First read your column in a Neighbors magazine. I have been reading your daily blog every since and have read almost all. In the archives. I can relate and you make my day. God bless you Sean. I plan on reading your books and seeing you in person. A fan of yours here in Boaz AL Patricia

    Reply
  6. Jean - September 28, 2019 10:28 am

    You were meant to be! we are grateful that you were.

    Reply
  7. Andrea Murphy - September 28, 2019 10:39 am

    Dear Sean,
    Surely to God there are some farm fresh Eggs 🍳 in Birmingham ? ! Love Your Blog

    Reply
  8. Alan - September 28, 2019 11:09 am

    You never disappoint. I look forward to reading your blog every day. God did not push any wrong buttons. From how you always speak highly of your bride, she is a wonderful person. Your blog Rocks!

    Reply
  9. Kay - September 28, 2019 11:48 am

    Beautiful

    Reply
  10. Suzanne Cahill - September 28, 2019 11:50 am

    My husband and I visited Yellowstone last fall. We planned 4 days in the park. You could spend a month there and still not see everything. Do it, Sean. Take your bride and sit in the crescent circle around Old Faithful. I’ll just say I’d love to compare notes. Please say hello to the bison for me, especially one big guy that I named Bruce. Bruce made my dream of seeing a bison up close, from our car, come true. It was on that trip that I realized that the bison is my spirit animal. It was also on that trip that I learned that bison and buffalo are not the same thing and if you call a bison a buffalo in front of a Park Ranger you will be gently and tactfully corrected about the error of your ways. It was also on this trip that our National Park Rangers became heroes in my eyes and heart. They are informed, dedicated, and patient -even with idiots like the guy who approached what had to be a 1200 pound male elk with a rack that was at least five feet wide who was with his herd to take a picture. This idiot apparently decided that the signs all over the park that say “Don’t approach the animals” in several different languages, which includes English, did not apply to him. The ranger who stopped him was a diminutive woman who stood about 4 foot nothing, and she was packing a service weapon. He complied. Sorry this is so long, I just love Yellowstone, and the National Parks Service. Go, Sean. It’s worth the time.

    Reply
  11. AL SMOLKO - September 28, 2019 11:52 am

    well said… keep it humble and you will be around long after i am gone.

    Reply
  12. Camille - September 28, 2019 11:56 am

    All of the gratitude is from all of us to you, Sean. As you can see by our comments, you make our day, everyday!

    Reply
  13. GaryD - September 28, 2019 12:42 pm

    I’ve stayed at hotels where the breakfasts are free. I found out they’re free cause they sure as heck couldn’t sell that food to anyone! I have also found out that people will fight you over cardboard eggs and stale honey buns if it’s free.

    Reply
  14. Kathie J Kerr - September 28, 2019 1:03 pm

    Sounding a little repetitive lately. I like it when you write about people

    Reply
  15. Kay Britton - September 28, 2019 1:08 pm

    I , too, have never done much in my life, but I feel like seeing your show in Aliceville, Alabama, and hugging your neck were right there on top of my bucket list! Your empathy and concern for other regular people touch my heart! I can’t wait to read your book, as I will read it and then send it to my granddaughter in Nebraska. You wrote her a note inside, and I really appreciate it. She is 17, and as I told you, she lost her mother, my daughter, to addiction to prescription meds about 3 years ago. She has related to your Dad’s death and your trouble finding yourself, and she finds comfort in your writing regarding the effects on you. Anyway, I said all that to say this. I am grateful to you.

    Reply
  16. Mary Burns - September 28, 2019 1:18 pm

    How about adding a like button. I always say the same thing on replies, love it. A like button would help alot. Then you wouldn’t have to read my lame remarks and waste your time. I love all that you write. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Kathy White - September 29, 2019 12:58 am

      Mary Burns, I like your “lame remarks” better than a like button. Keep writing. It never gets old telling someone “I love all that you write.”

      Reply
  17. Charlotte Scarborough - September 28, 2019 1:27 pm

    Sorry I missed your visit to the Trussville Alabama library last week. I was fulfilling a dream of visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Sean you and Jamie must visit as soon as possible. Have only discovered your stories in the last month, and now I can’t start my day without reading your column. So grateful for your archives so I can go back and catch up. Telling everybody I know about your wonderful stories.o

    Reply
  18. Jan Hilton - September 28, 2019 1:32 pm

    There is so much to see in the United States and my husband and I need to see more. Due to somewhat exotic travel plans, I’ve been to Croatia, but I’ve never been to Charleston. One of these days I’ll remedy that.

    Reply
  19. Jennifer John - September 28, 2019 1:44 pm

    Sean, thanks for writing. And please visit Michigan. We’ve got some good eggs.❤️

    Reply
  20. Ann - September 28, 2019 1:55 pm

    Your timing is perfect…we are in Vancouver Washington…in a hotel….getting ready to go down to the gourmet buffet breakfast…I m sooooo looking forward to it and am grateful ( I don’t have to fix it)….
    Thanks Sean…God bless

    Reply
  21. Janet - September 28, 2019 2:08 pm

    Come on up to Alaska! I’d love to see you again! I’ve brought a tiny bit of the south up here. Our little town is very similar to Mayberry. Everybody knows everybody. It’s a bit chillier weather wise but friendly wise we are warm as a big fluffy biscuit waiting to be buttered. Come on up Sean. I’ll turn the auroras on for ya!

    Reply
  22. Dwain King - September 28, 2019 2:09 pm

    I read most of you columns, but the self-flagellation is wearing thin. I understand that you don’t think you are good enough at writing or speaking be making a living at it, but I have been reading you column for over a year now and in my opinion it’s about time for you to build a bridge and get over yourself. You have so much more to offer than self criticism.

    Reply
    • Kathy White - September 29, 2019 1:35 am

      I debated whether I would respond to your comment Dwain King, but I’m going for it. I just got turned on to Sean’s writing in May of this year. He came to my little town of Palatka. I didn’t get to see him. Wish I had. My friends posted on Facebook how wonderful he was. So, I checked out his blog. OMG! I loved his writing. OK, next step, I bought his book, Sean of the South. Loved it. I read his blog everyday in my inbox. Also, he posts on Facebook and I read that as well. There are so many reasons I enjoy reading his writing: honesty, humor, plain speaking, southern speaking, his faith without offending those with a different faith and to those without faith, kindness, insight, and I could go on and on. But what really speaks to me is how he’s made himself vulnerable to criticism and ridicule by writing about the painful experiences he’s had. You’ve been reading his column for over a year. I’ve only been reading his column for 5 months, and someone today will read his writing for the first time today. And that person needed to hear what he wrote today…for the first time. Maybe it was your 12th time. For me…I never get tired of hearing how he has overcome such adversity in his life. He’s honest with the mistakes he’s made. The attitudes he’s had. And if you read closely, you experience the growth and wisdom he’s learned from those experiences and the people who have helped him along this journey called life. And he shares that with his reader; everyday.. And to a reader today, his daily blog might be a lifeline. The more we are honest with each other, the deeper the healing becomes. I love that he loves his wife with a passion. More husbands and wives should love each other with a passion. I love that he’s an animal lover. The stories he writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things is so uplifting. He’s a wonderful storyteller and writer. And this reader doesn’t mind hearing his stories. And Sean, if you read this comment, please come back to Palatka. I will be the first one in line to buy my ticket.

      Reply
  23. Lori Cuchens Kelley - September 28, 2019 2:11 pm

    I’m so happy you have found your calling in life! Because it is pure enjoyment for me to read your column every morning. You take this Freeport girl back to her roots and I am looking forward to the time when I get to attend one of your shows and hear your stories live!

    Reply
  24. Bobbie - September 28, 2019 2:21 pm

    Thank you Sean. You’re always my first laugh of the day, sometimes my only one. And know that God don’t make mistakes! No telling what He has planned for you. Just believe and let Him continue leading you on your amazing journey. 🙋

    Reply
  25. Connie Havard Ryland - September 28, 2019 2:30 pm

    I’ve been privileged to see you twice and will go again when you come close enough. You always make me smile and sometimes make me cry, but I always enjoy you. Enjoy your travels. We live in a beautiful country. By all means go to Yellowstone one day, and go see the redwoods and the Pacific North West. I’m longing to travel the east coast.

    Reply
  26. Dot Wells - September 28, 2019 2:59 pm

    Love you Sean! I traveled most of my working career(not retired) and I agree they offer you some kind of powered egg with a side of tough cardboard. Most of the time the muffins are good especially the unmolded ones. (you have to be careful). Bless you!!! You deserve everything God is giving you! Enjoy it!! Don’t stop writing, who knows you might get it right!!! Hehehe!! You are wonderful!!

    Reply
  27. Sharon E Brock - September 28, 2019 3:07 pm

    Mr. Dietrich, I love your work. I haven’t laughed this hard since Lewis Grizzard died. Thelma Lou is my favorite; potluck dinners in the South are fantastic; sugar does not belong in cornbread; and Kentucky is fantabulous. Keep writing sir. You have a gift.

    Reply
  28. Carol Smith - September 28, 2019 4:07 pm

    Hi Mr. Dietrich, just a word to tell you how much I enjoy your writings/blog. You have a way about you that brings joy, laughter, compassion, empathy and such tender-heartedness that we all need in this world. Please keep writing, GOD doesn’t make mistakes and he sure didn’t make one with you……I have a stack of your blog posts that I print out and enjoy reading them and re-reading them from time to time. I’m a grandmother and great grandmother who also loves the South [ N.C ]. ~

    Reply
  29. Linda Moon - September 28, 2019 4:12 pm

    The best hotel breakfast I ever had, especially the grits, were served at a hotel — The Hermitage in Nashville. They don’t serve continental breakfasts there because that hotel is WAY better than others. There’s lots to see in America. I’ve seen a ton of it and have a ton of scrapbook photos to prove it. Maybe one day you’ll join the spirits of Patsy, Hank, and Ernest while you’re performing at the Ryman Auditorium. I’ll come see you and stay at The Hermitage. I sure am glad God pushed the wrong button and you accidentally appeared! Thank YOU for writing this!!

    Reply
  30. Emily Sturtz - September 28, 2019 5:09 pm

    We love your stories because they are a truth, told with a little humor, which has been forgotten in our busy rushing world. They are lovely in so many ways that almost all readers connect and realize that we all aren’t as different or separate as we think.

    Reply
  31. Maureen - September 28, 2019 5:45 pm

    Sean, you always make my day! You my friend are a wonderful story teller. And story tellers make wonderful memories. Keep it up.
    Love, Maureen

    Reply
  32. Nancy M. - September 28, 2019 6:23 pm

    I’m glad we got to see you in person in Pintlala, AL and I’m glad I found your columns. I look forward to it every day.
    Many hotels in the south are near a Waffle House. Just sayin’

    Reply
  33. Carolyn Cantrell - September 28, 2019 6:28 pm

    The line about being raised fundamentalist, never having been naked and that your mother said you “were born wearing corduroy pants and Hush Puppies” made me laugh out loud. God only knows how much I needed to do that today. Thank you! <3 CC

    Reply
  34. Kathy Hornsby - September 28, 2019 7:00 pm

    When are you coming to South Carolina ?

    Reply
  35. Charlie Leikauf - September 28, 2019 7:36 pm

    The reason the continental breakfast is free, is because the eggs sausage are disgusting. They say you get what you pay for. Which is why we always eat breakfast away from the hotel. At least at McDonald’s you can get a freshly cooked egg on an English muffin.

    Reply
  36. Kathy Daum - September 28, 2019 8:16 pm

    Those eggs are awful. Stick to the bacon and waffles. Love.

    Reply
  37. Carol - September 28, 2019 8:53 pm

    I wish you would come to Albany , Ga. or anywhere
    Close.
    Eat the pancakes or make the waffles, their pretty good and I like the bacon.
    I hope you and Jamie and the furbabies, u do take them don’t you??Get to trave this whole country and stay away from overseas, unless it’s to go talk to our service men.
    I know they would love to hear you speak of all thoes places and growing up like I know a lot of them have!
    Safe travels, I’m asking Jesus to put a hedge of protection around you as you travel this country!!🙏
    Love ya!

    Reply
  38. Ala Red Clay Girl - September 28, 2019 9:22 pm

    Your writings could be the only bright spot in someone’s day. I know I can’t imagine a day without your column. Don’t sell yourself short; just keep on being you and telling us about it.

    Reply
  39. Helen Taylor Andrews - September 28, 2019 10:39 pm

    Enjoy the ride, Sean and be glad that God put you in the place , and time, you are in. Your readers are thankful and God knows we need something to brighten our days…Love you & Jamie lots!!

    Reply
  40. Edna B. - September 28, 2019 11:21 pm

    You’re on the right road. Is there any chance you’ll be near Kissimmee the early part of next March? You have a great evening, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  41. Lee Ann Hawkins - September 29, 2019 12:01 am

    My family is so excited that you are coming to Franklin, Tennessee and cannot wait to get our tickets.
    I am proud to say I introduced you to them! We make up a huge fan club. I don’t like it when you
    talk poorly about yourself so quit it.

    Reply
  42. Bobbie Turner - September 29, 2019 1:05 am

    Great job!😊

    Reply
  43. Jane Carr - September 29, 2019 1:35 am

    Sean, if people didn’t enjoy reading your stories and seeing you in person, this would have been over long ago even if God pushed the initiating button. Have confidence in yourself! Jane

    Reply
  44. Leigh Ann Whitley - October 5, 2019 2:43 am

    I absolutely love your stories. I started reading them because like most of the letters I hear you read on your podcast, I stumbled across you by a stroke of luck. You’re my favorite weekly show and I love reading your stories. I don’t have many friends and hearing you on the radio is like a nice visit. So no, thank you for your stories. I love them and hope to keep hearing and reading them for a long time.

    Your friend,

    Leigh Ann Whitley

    Reply

Leave a Comment