“First you gotta peel the eggs,” says the old woman as she peels hard boiled eggs over a sink. “This is the hardest part. You gotta have good fingernails.”
We are having a video call. The white-haired woman is standing in her kitchen. When she finishes peeling, she fires up an Oster electric mixer that whirs like a son of a gun.
“I use an electric mixer to whip my egg filling ‘cause my hands get tired stirring.” She laughs. “My deviled eggs are so good.”
Good. The goodness of mankind is a hotly contested idea in today’s tense world. Historically, this is nothing new. People have scoffed at the idea that mankind is intrinsically good since Eve took up dressmaking. Many believe there is no inherent goodness in human nature.
And then there are people like Miss Reba, with her deviled eggs.
Reba is 83 and a committed deviled-egg artist. The woman has been cooking for funerals, weddings, and local clambakes for 60-some-odd years. And she’s still chugging.
“The secret to good deviled eggs,” says Miss Reba, addressing the phone camera, “is there ain’t no secret.”
This makes her giggle again. Then Reba takes a sip of a potent clear drink her daughter, Annie, mixed in honor of our phone call.
I ask the old woman, “What’s in the glass?”
Reba takes a sip. “Ovaltine.”
Miss Reba’s deviled eggs are famous in four counties. This particular batch is for the family of a 17-year-old girl who died in a car wreck. These eggs are for the funeral.
Sometimes Reba has been known to travel up to six hours to deliver her deviled eggs.
I asked why Reba does this. Why prepare food for random people, then go to the trouble of hand delivering it?
“Because I need them to see my face. Need them to know someone’s praying for’em. Deviled eggs are my excuse for dropping by.”
Miss Reba isn’t alone in her quest for goodness. There are others like her.
Take Marc. He’s a guy who goes around paying people’s bills. In fact, Marc’s favorite thing to do is visit the power company’s main office and pay the debts of delinquent customers.
Marc explains. “I just walk in and tell the gal at the desk to use this money for people who’re behind on payments. No big deal.”
No big deal.
Sometimes, Marc does this in grocery stores, too. Usually, he approaches the manager, gives a few hundred-dollar bills, and instructs the store to buy groceries for anyone whose credit or debit card is denied.
Some of Marc’s recent benevolence victims have reportedly wept in the checkout aisle.
Again you’re probably asking yourself what kind of guy goes around doing stuff like this? You’re wondering whether Marc is a rich guy with a few butlers, a 203-foot Benetti Luxury Yacht, and a Lexus in every color.
Nope. Marc works in a steel fabrication plant. Marc’s car is a 2003 Honda. Marc’s bank account is sometimes in the red.
Marc adds, “I don’t care if I go broke helping folks. I grew up poor, dude. I know what it’s like.”
And then we have Samantha.
Last month Samantha was standing in line at a gas station. Ahead of her was a young mother in a hotel-maid uniform with two kids. The lady’s oldest son wanted to buy a video-gaming magazine.
The mother looked at her son quizzically and said, “You don’t even own an Xbox, silly, go put that magazine back.”
The boy did as he was told. He dropped his head and returned the magazine to the rack.
Samantha was merely an observer, but she saw plenty that day. Which is why she did something unusual when it was her turn at the register.
After the mother and kids exited the store, Samantha asked the clerk if that young mother came into this convenience store often.
“Every evening,” replied the cashier. “Brings her kids in here every night after she gets off work to get’em snacks.”
That was all Samantha needed to know. She piled into her car and drove to the nearest big-box superstore. She bought a Microsoft Xbox Series X.
And here’s how it went down.
The next evening, as predicted, the young mother entered the gas station with her children in tow.
Initially, the cashier played it cool. The cashier handed the young boy a magazine and said, “Here, someone left this magazine for you.”
The kid was lit with electric joy. He took the magazine in both hands and you would have thought he’d just won a pony.
“Oh, wait,” added the cashier nonchalantly. “Almost forgot. I was also supposed to give you this.”
The cashier lifted an Xbox onto the counter.
They say the little boy stood in the center of an average American gas station and cried, unable to form words.
And I was going to add more to this story, but I’m in the same boat.