Old Trucks

It was a classified ad in one of those nickel newspapers. It read:

“Gray Ford. Half-ton. Stick-shift. Some rust. Needs TLC. Sneads, Florida. $800.”

My pal called about it. He needed a truck in a bad way. His old one had gone to be with Jesus, his wife was pregnant, and he’d just lost his job.

And in the days before texting, the only way to do business was to use the interstate.

Before we left, he went to the bank. He liquidated his account into a wallet full of eight hundred dollars.

I gave him a ride. We stopped at a gas station outside Cottondale. He filled my tank, then paid inside. He bought two sticks of beef jerky, two scratch-off lottos.


After a two-hour ride we hit a dirt road leading to a farmhouse that sat on several acres of green. Out front: an old man, smoking. He was bony, friendly, tall.

The truck was ugly, painted primer gray to hide rust. The bumpers were missing, the interior smelled like oyster stew.

“Runs good,” the man said.

“I’ll take it,” my buddy answered.

He reached for his wallet. And that’s when it happened.

His pocket was empty.

My friend went ape. He retraced his steps. We tore apart my truck interior, dug through seats, and cussed. When he finally gave up, he sat cross-legged on the ground. He cried until his face looked raw. It was a lot of money to lose.

The elderly man sat beside him. He wrapped his arms around him. It had been a long time since a grown man had done that sort of thing to my pal. My friend was a fatherless orphan, like me.

When things calmed down, the old man’s eyes were red and puffy. He wiped his face and said, “C’mon, son, nothin’s THAT bad. Cheer up.”

My pal didn’t answer.

The elderly man removed keys from his pocket and placed them in my friend’s shirt pocket. He said, “Listen, that truck is gonna need an oil change when you get it home.”

My friend just looked at the dangling keys.

“What are you saying?” said the kid.

“I’m saying she’s all yours. She ain’t worth that much nohow. I want you to have her.”

“You’re giving me a car?”

“No sir. I’m giving you a piece of crap. You’ll be cussing me later.”

Hugs ensued. Tears were shed. My friend drove that truck for years.

Anyway, that was a long time ago. I haven’t seen my buddy in a hundred years—I’ll bet his baby is already drawing Social Security by now.

Still, I’ve replayed his story in my mind until I’ve worn out the record. Because the truth is, I need to be reminded that kindness actually exists. I need to be reminded that this world isn’t full of angry, mean-spirited, selfish people.

I need this reminder because I know too many people have quit hoping. I know too many who believe this world has already landed in the outhouse. I know too many who think love is an elaborate myth.

Well. I believe these people are dead wrong.

And I’d bet eight hundred bucks on it.


  1. Phyllis McBride - January 11, 2023 6:09 am

    I like this story. Did it really happen?

  2. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - January 11, 2023 6:24 am

    I believe that there are more good people in the world than bad ones. Good people just don’t make the news! I love this story.

  3. oldlibrariansshelf - January 11, 2023 9:32 am

    Thanks, Sean, for keeping hope and love visible ALWAYS!

  4. Dolores - January 11, 2023 10:57 am

    There’s more people in your camp of providential idealism than you know. Straight away I wondered about the 800 bucks. Immediately I was assured it was the finder’s answered prayer. That’s the way He rolls.

    • Marsha Hamby Savage - January 11, 2023 12:51 pm

      Dolores, I thought exactly the same thing! That finder had a need, and those lost dollars helped someone else.

  5. Debbie - January 11, 2023 11:03 am

    Thank you. I think we all need a reminder that kindness exists. I know I did.

  6. Jean Sherrill - January 11, 2023 11:32 am

    Thank you for reminding me again. Seems the ugly overcomes the good sometimes but I think one good deed at a time will start a chain reaction. I surely hope so.

  7. Julie - January 11, 2023 12:24 pm

    Sean, YOU are one of the good ones! Thank you for this story!

  8. Anne Arthur - January 11, 2023 12:25 pm

    You’ve won that bet already.

  9. Debbie g - January 11, 2023 12:33 pm

    Always looking and receiving the good every day thank you Sean
    Love to all. And pass it on for Sean today

  10. Becky Creighton - January 11, 2023 12:37 pm

    So many of my mornings start with Sean, coffee, and goosebumps. What a great way to start a new day. Thank you, Sean, for always reminding me of the good in people. Have a great day!

  11. Ann - January 11, 2023 12:52 pm

    Our media world needs reminders that there is good! Letting people know it exists may give others hope and reason to “ pass it on”… this is an everyday beautiful story and a reminder how we can all do good things be it a warm smile or more!

  12. Marsha Hamby Savage - January 11, 2023 12:53 pm

    I enjoyed this… as usual. Your posts are always a great way to start the day with my coffee… and I share many of them with m y followers on Facebook! Thank you for your writing!

  13. mccutchen52 - January 11, 2023 1:16 pm

    I believe the story…Because I have seen it done in another place.

  14. Priscilla Rodgers - January 11, 2023 1:57 pm

    Please keep telling these stories of the good that’s out there. Maybe someday everyone will read it and know. All of us who read it now do and it makes us feel better.

  15. Alan Martin - January 11, 2023 2:02 pm

    Sean, do you ever appear on stage and verbalize your stories? Now retired,I am back home in Birmingham and I, and most of my buddies that I forward your column to (although most now subscribe) would try to be on the front row.
    If you are now doing this, please let us know if a schedule. To me, you are a modern day Will Rogers who frequently intermingles humor with faith. Heck, unlike your buddy, I could even drive to one of your appearances😬!

    Best wishes from a fan,

    • Harriet - January 11, 2023 2:30 pm

      Alan, Google his calendar for 2023 and you’ll see his upcoming shows list.

  16. Scott B Hamil - January 11, 2023 2:21 pm

    Wonderful read. We need more kindness in our world today

  17. Dennis - January 11, 2023 2:23 pm

    The most amazing part in your writing? Consistency. I don’t know how you come up with new stuff this often. All I ask is that you keep it up.

  18. David - January 11, 2023 2:42 pm

    There may be hope for us humans yet. Some really good people do still exist!

  19. Chasity Davis Ritter - January 11, 2023 2:44 pm

    We always need to be reminded of the good things. The kind people. The urban (rural?) legends we choose to believe because we want to. I’m thankful for the people who pay it forward. Grateful for those who have done it for me and always try to mindful of the Lord’s unfailing amazing Grace. Thank you for todays reminder. And someone somewhere out there tells the story to this day of how they were in a desperate situation beyond measure and praying for any sort of miracle to help them when from the heavens itself $800 magically appeared to save their day. I know we will never know but I still believe in miracles too. Or like you said yesterday Providence ❤️🙏

  20. Catherine Winters - January 11, 2023 2:45 pm

    I needed that this morning! We’ve been dealing with a couple of angry, mean spirited, selfish people lately. It hits you kinda hard sometimes. Thanks for the reminder of kindness.

  21. Maggie Priestaf - January 11, 2023 2:48 pm

    I need reminding, too. Thanks for taking care of that…

  22. Todd - January 11, 2023 2:49 pm


  23. Pubert Earle Bozemann - January 11, 2023 3:08 pm

    Sean, they don’t make em like that everyday, even if it was a POS truck. But I gots to ask, what happened to the $800? You’re a good man, Dude!

    Your friend,


  24. Sandy - January 11, 2023 3:10 pm

    God works in many ways love it

  25. Karen Harvey - January 11, 2023 3:28 pm

    Your stories give me hope for humanity. Thanks for sharing.

  26. sjhl7 - January 11, 2023 3:28 pm

    Thank you, Sean. You always know just what we need!

  27. Sandra Jones - January 11, 2023 3:31 pm

    Heart warming .

  28. Max Corder - January 11, 2023 3:42 pm

    There were no losers in that story.

  29. Bill Booher - January 11, 2023 3:48 pm

    Good people come in all shapes and sizes…even today!

  30. sflouden - January 11, 2023 3:57 pm

    Sean I don’t know what your Mom wanted for you when you were growing up…but you answered a higher calling than most men do. You are what the Bible calls and Exhorter….this is the ministry of encouragement to others…and you are truly that. Thanks for doing what comes so natural for you…and encourager.

  31. Stacey Wallace - January 11, 2023 4:01 pm

    Thanks, Sean. I needed to hear this sweet story. Love to you, Jamie, Marigold, Otis Campbell, and Thelma Lou.

  32. Ginga Smithfield - January 11, 2023 4:43 pm

    Me too, Sean!! I would bet eight hundred bucks on it, too!

  33. Stephanie - January 11, 2023 7:07 pm

    Good one Sean. Thank you, have not had much hope in this world lately. Needed to hear this.

  34. Patricia Gibson - January 11, 2023 7:46 pm

    All I can say is Amen!!

  35. pattymack43 - January 11, 2023 7:51 pm

    I agree!! Kindness continues to exist in the hearts of God fearing people. Thank you for reminding us!

  36. Pam - January 11, 2023 8:54 pm

    More good ppl than bad we just hear about the bad sooner and more often. Thanks for the great story.

  37. Debra Barnes - January 11, 2023 9:01 pm

    What an encouraging story.

  38. Steve McCaleb - January 11, 2023 9:36 pm

    Dammit boy! Every single time I’m ready to give up….you hit me with something like this. And I’m crying like a stood up cheerleader on prom night. I don’t know whether to hunt you up and hit you with a skillet or hunt you up and hug yore aggravating neck. Alright ….the hug wins. Thanks for being a light in all this darkness that is threatening to roll over us all.

  39. Sissy Geist - January 11, 2023 9:56 pm

    Did he ever find the money?

  40. Same as above - January 11, 2023 10:59 pm

    What a great story. Thank you!

  41. johnny blevins - January 11, 2023 11:27 pm

    You are correct, kindness does exist when people slow down and observes the needs.

  42. Sean of the South: Old Trucks | The Trussville Tribune - January 12, 2023 2:23 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

  43. Jim Duncan - January 12, 2023 6:18 pm

    That was a great story and served to remind me that “there are angels among us.”

  44. Helen De Prima - January 13, 2023 9:58 pm

    You’re never without friends if you drive a truck.

  45. Dixie - January 16, 2023 4:46 pm

    Beautiful post! Thank you

  46. Carol - January 17, 2023 6:56 pm

    Thanks for the reminder!

  47. Trish - January 18, 2023 12:19 am

    I wish more people could be this was. True Christian!!!

  48. denise - January 22, 2023 2:35 am

    I agree


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