I was driving home. A Georgia interstate. It was dark. I heard a loud explosion on my passenger side. I almost lost control of my vehicle. I muscled the truck to the shoulder.
“Well, cuss,” I thought to myself. “Just what I need, a flat tire.”
But it gets better. I checked my undercarriage only to find I had no spare. That’s when I remembered: I had removed my spare and used it on my wife’s vehicle.
I was interrupted by headlights behind me. It was a truck. The man driving was a Methodist music minister.
He gave me his spare. And—I’ll never forget this—while I changed my tire, he stood in the highway, shining a flashlight at passing cars so I wouldn’t become roadkill.
Here’s another one:
I was a kid, six years old. I was lost in a crowded shopping mall. I had never been to a “mall” before. The biggest place I’d ever been was the neighborhood supermarket where cashiers said things like: “You want me to put this on your mama’s tab?”
But a shopping mall. This is a terrifying place for rural children. I was lost within a sea of people until a complete stranger approached me. He was a nice man, wearing a corduroy jacket with arm patches. He asked if I was lost.
I was afraid, and he seemed to sense this. He told me to follow him. So, I did. I tailed him across a busy mall the size of six city blocks, keeping my distance. The stranger led me to my mother, then he sort of disappeared.
And after all this time, I still can’t figure out how a stranger knew where my mother was.
Then there was the time I dropped my cellphone in the toilet. I’ll spare you gory the details. I will simply say that I was on the phone with my wife when it happened. Her voice gurgled in the toilet water, and my phone went to be with Jesus.
This happened at a bad time. We were broke. My wife and I had been sharing one flip phone between us. We didn’t have a landline, just that cheap, ugly phone.
Now we were crippled.
That same weekend, I was supposed to chaperone a Baptist youth group across the Tennessee mountains. But how could I oversee the spiritual lives of twenty godless hormonal teenagers without a cellular phone?
The next day, the maintenance man at our apartment came to fix our air conditioner. We started talking. And it’s a long story, but in the middle of our conversation, he gave me a phone. Just up and gave it to me.
I almost choked.
And that weekend, I accompanied the World’s Evilest Youth Group to the Smokies—cellphone in hand. A good time was had by all.
I wrote my first book years ago, though it still seems like yesterday. It was a collection of stories that were utterly ridiculous. Much like the one you’re reading now—assuming you’re still reading.
I wasn’t going to publish the stories. After all, who would really care about things I had to say? So, I decided to give up and let the book gather dust.
But one morning, I went to breakfast with a friend. My friend pushed me to publish this book. My friend even had a name for it. “Sean of the South.” My friend believed in me.
I spent my savings publishing the book. And for Christmas, I gave these small books away to my friends. More people asked for books. So I ordered ten new boxes. I ran out of those after a few days.
I am crying while I write this.
Not because I am a softy. I’m not. I’m a very manly man who uses ten-dollar chamomile and lavender shampoo. I’m crying because long ago, I thought I was alone in this world. I thought nobody gave a double-cuss about me.
In fact, if you would’ve asked me, I would’ve told you that people were inherently selfish, and cruel, and self-centered. And when given the chance, people would steal what was yours then eat the jelly beans your mother packed in your lunchbox. But I was wrong.
People are magnificent creatures with something wonderful inside them. And I don’t care if you believe me, I know it’s true.
And even though there might be hateful people in this world, they’re outnumbered. The lovers, the helpers, the songwriters, and the peacemakers are here. They’re on every street corner, in every shopping mall, restaurant, beer joint, chapel, and Georgia interstate. And they’re just waiting to give you a spare tire.
So they can change your life forever.