He is young. He is wearing a red shirt. A cap. He drives a Ford pickup that has seen better days. The roof is rusted, the wheel bearings are in bad shape.
The kid is on lunch break, parked in a grocery-store parking lot. He is eating bananas because fruit is cheap and he has a light wallet.
His windows are rolled down. He’s only got ten minutes before he’s expected back at a jobsite, to hang gutter on a three-story house.
It’s god-awful work. He’s not afraid of heights, but he certainly doesn’t love nine-hundred-foot ladders.
The kid finishes eating. He tosses a banana peel into his flatbed. He tries to start his truck. It makes a coughing noise. He tries again. The truck sputters. The kid cusses.
The old Ford has crossed the river.
These are the days before cellphones ruled the world, there’s no way to call the kid’s boss. His boss is already at work, probably glancing at his wristwatch.
The kid sits, wondering what happens after he gets fired. He could always join the circus and clean up after the elephants.
Across the parking lot: a man. He’s short. Gray hair. He asks if the kid is having engine trouble. The kid hardly understands him beneath his thick Mexican accent.
The man pops the hood. He leans inward. He tells the kid, “Try it now!”
The kid turns the key.
The gray-haired man winks. “I know what is thee problem,” he says. “We can buy part in town. Come. We take my car.”
“I can’t,” the kid says. “I’m supposed to be at work.”
The man understands this word.
They pile into the man’s Honda, which looks like it’s rusting apart. The man weaves through traffic, and drives into a nice neighborhood. He drops the kid at a three-story house.
The boss is upset.
The Mexican man offers to stay and help hang gutter. The job gets done in record time. Bossman is not upset anymore. Kid keeps job.
Work is finished. The Mexican man carries the kid to the auto-part store. He knows exactly which part to buy. It’s not expensive.
After a few hours, the kid’s truck is fixed. The engine roars to life.
They eat together. It’s Waffle House. After dark. They carry on a conversation using short, basic English. They laugh some.
“You got family?” the kid asks.
“Oh, jess. I have kids.”
“How old are they?”
He doesn’t know English numbers, so he holds up many fingers.
The kid pays for supper.
They part ways. They even hug. The kid thanks the man for helping him keep his job. The Mexican doesn’t want thank-yous. Only smiles.
They never see each other again.
Until one day, years later, at a gas station. The Mexican man has his own business. He drives a big work-van. He looks old.
“Do joo remember me?” the man says to the kid—who is a far cry from being a kid anymore.
“I could never forget you,” says the kid.
Then the kid wrote this to prove it.
theholtgirls - May 2, 2018 6:35 am
I know to expect something at the end. But, wow!
Thank you, Sean, for taking my breath with the simple beauty of your words.
As my teenager might say, “All the feels.”
Sandi in FL. - May 2, 2018 8:44 am
The closing sentence gave me goose bumps,Sean, because it packs such a powerful, unexpected punch! Did you just recently see your helpful Mexican friend again? Your writings continually get better. I nominate you for a Nobel Prise in Literature!
Victoria - May 2, 2018 9:52 am
Cathi - May 2, 2018 10:40 am
Yay Sean! Never forget the people who helped get you where you are today.
Sandra Smith - May 2, 2018 10:44 am
love, Love, LOVE it !!!
Howard Humphreys - May 2, 2018 11:29 am
There are good folks everywhere.. Most go unnoticed..
Marty from Alabama - May 2, 2018 11:31 am
I kinda thought so.
Tony Roberts - May 2, 2018 11:46 am
Linda Reiner - May 2, 2018 11:59 am
This has to be my favorite Sean story yet! But…I think have said that before.
Jo Ann - May 2, 2018 12:07 pm
Wow!! We never know when we will encounter angels. And how wonderful to see him again.
LeAnne Martin - May 2, 2018 12:11 pm
Oh my goodness! What a treasure of a story. Thank you for sharing it, Sean. And bless that man who helped you so unselfishly.
Bobbie - May 2, 2018 12:32 pm
Kindness is catching!
Sandy Rose - May 2, 2018 12:45 pm
you are wonderful
paula jones - May 2, 2018 12:55 pm
In a world of insanity that keeps slapping us in the face, your stories bring tears of joy to my eyes. THANK YOU.
shanatproctorgmailcom - May 2, 2018 12:58 pm
Thank you, Sean, for another wonderful story. Thank God for people like your helper.
Connie Havard Ryland - May 2, 2018 1:07 pm
Thank you for the reminder that people can be kind and good. Some days that is hard to hang onto. Love and hugs.
Patricia Schmaltz - May 2, 2018 1:10 pm
We are all connected. Nice story! For once you brighten my day… without making me cry! Thank you.
Edna B. - May 2, 2018 1:16 pm
I love this story! There really are some really good folks out there. I’ve met some of them and you have too. God Bless all of them and you for bringing us these wonderful stories. Hugs, Edna B.
Lydia - May 2, 2018 1:21 pm
What a lovely way to start my day. It is SO refreshing to read the wonderful words of a young man who sees clearly the good in this world! Thank you,Sean
Deborah Oder - May 2, 2018 1:28 pm
great twist. Thanks again for the tears.
Anne Godwin - May 2, 2018 1:46 pm
Sean, you have such a gift! Thanks for sharing it with the world. If I’m ever involved in a crime, I hope you’re a witness. You have such great recall of facts. Topped off with emotions. I know that your Dad and Ellie Mae are so proud of you. I love you.
Juanita Ruth One - May 2, 2018 1:48 pm
Gracias, Sean. Buen escrito!
Freddi Rein - May 2, 2018 1:51 pm
Sue Cronkite - May 2, 2018 1:51 pm
This time the Angel was a Mexican. God is good.
Carol ann ROTHWELL - May 2, 2018 1:56 pm
Your a good”kid”Sean!!
There are many that will not forget you either!!
Thank you and big hug,hope to buy you waffle dinner some day!!
Hello to Thelma,
karen - May 2, 2018 1:57 pm
These are the very stories that keep me hangin around here.
Judith - May 2, 2018 1:58 pm
Dang it. Get me every time. Lessons in life…help each other!
Mary - May 2, 2018 2:34 pm
Sad as it was, I didn’t cry when I read about Ellie Mae. But this story brought down flood waters. Thank you for reminding me/us of the good in the world.
muthahun - May 2, 2018 2:37 pm
What goes around…
Janet Mary Lee - May 2, 2018 2:49 pm
Another story with keen sensitivity! I do not know why I was surprised it was you! Still, impactful last sentence. You are going to be even a more wonderful writer as you have grown even more in the last few weeks. Kiss and scratch little Thelma Lou for me! ((hugs))
Pamela McEachern - May 2, 2018 2:52 pm
God Loves you and so do I. He puts Angels in our paths in so many different ways.
Peace and Love from Birmingham
Kim - May 2, 2018 3:07 pm
Good Stuff . . .
Jack Quanstrum - May 2, 2018 3:10 pm
Freddie Sue Walker - May 2, 2018 3:55 pm
Thank you for putting us back in touch with what is most important in life. People, not things. Compassion, not arrogance. Helping,not ignoring. Stopping, not turning away. You have a gift…..Thanks for sharing and not keeping it all to yourself. Your writing never fails to touch my heart. Blessings.
Maxine - May 2, 2018 5:07 pm
Ah Sean, you are so special! We NEED your input on the goodness of people to counteract all the other stuff out there. Love you, and you are the Angel God sent for this task. He taught you well how to pour your heart into each message you write.
Sandi in FL. - May 2, 2018 5:12 pm
I could not agree more with what Maxine said, above..
Judy - May 2, 2018 5:15 pm
As always, the ending was so very special! Thank you for being the most positive writer I have ever read! God Bless.
Chris McAllister - May 2, 2018 5:19 pm
Great story. The end was fantastic! Thank you for being you.
Judy - May 2, 2018 6:04 pm
Ooh I got chill bumps at the end of this one 🙂
Jess - May 2, 2018 6:04 pm
Your words are my daily devotional.
Earlene Reeves - May 2, 2018 6:19 pm
Why are these comments dated today but it is only 1:18pm right now and the last comment I see while I am typing is today at 5:19 pm?
Daddy's Little Girl - May 2, 2018 7:49 pm
As I was reading this, I was reminded of something that happened when I was a young girl. My mother was half-owner of a funeral home in my hometown. My father was a farmer with multiple farms that were overseen by the families that lived on the farms. He also helped out with the ambulance service operated by the funeral home. This was back when funeral homes provided ambulance service to the hospitals and communities.
One day, there was a small boy who was in critical condition and needed to be transported to the hospital in Marianna, because the local hospital could not provide the care he needed. My father responded to the call and picked up the little boy and his father and “flew” them to Marianna. I say “flew”, because Marianna is approximately 30 miles and 30 minutes from my hometown. Because the young patient was in a life or death situation, my father drove those 30 miles in less than 20 minutes along a two-lane highway through multiple little towns and several traffic lights.
Of course, I did not know anything about this; until one day, my father and I were downtown outside one of the now defunct local businesses. My father saw a man whom he recognized walking with a little boy. We stopped, and, as the pair walked toward us, the man bent down to talk with the little boy. As they came near us, the little boy stuck out his hand toward my father and said “I want to shake the hand of the man that saved my life”. Sometimes we are simply in the process of living life, when something magnificent happens!
D. White - May 2, 2018 8:01 pm
I so enjoy your writing. Look forward to it each day. Keep it up. You bring smiles and sometimes a tear or two!!!
CDA - May 2, 2018 10:26 pm
I know every morning that when I read your post, I will laugh, smile or cry. Sometimes all three. I so enjoy your blog. This morning it was cry and smile…
Sue Tait - May 3, 2018 1:20 am
There are so many good things in the world if we only look. TV news is NOT all there is, and you Sean, are one of the Best of the “Good Things”. Never stop writing your stories…
Linda Trammell - May 3, 2018 12:56 pm
Your stories are like parables! So much life – so many teachers!
Libby - May 3, 2018 1:07 pm
❤️Love this !!
Jody - May 3, 2018 2:30 pm
Thanks for the story of a generous heart.
Marcia MacLean - May 3, 2018 6:05 pm
I would love to spend a day with you. My wish is to see people the way you do. To notice the important things. I think I do look around more than I used to…because of you. Great story!
Dean - April 19, 2021 1:20 pm
Great column. A good person is a good person and nothing else matters. So glad you got to see him again