Ordinary People

Hate is for sale, and it’s buy-one-get-one-free this week. People are killing people. Crime-scene tape gets strung across innocent porches. Explosions right and left.

Huntsville, Alabama—Enrique is a long way from Guatemala. A teenager. He speaks no English.

He works long hours on framing crews. He lives in a tent behind the gas station with two other boys.

Enrique comes down with a cold. The cold gets worse. And worse. He spends days lying on the ground of his campsite, wheezing, moaning. His fever is boiling hot.

One night, he hobbles through town for help. He finds an insurance office with a light on.

Enrique walks inside and mumbles, “Ayudame.” Then, he collapses.

One man drives Enrique to the hospital. Then, the man gives Enrique a place to stay—for two years.

And well, that was a long time ago. A lot of people have helped Enrique throughout his life.

They helped him get his citizenship, for instance. They also taught him English. They helped him through school. They helped him through nursing school, and clinicals.

Most of those same people, and fellow nurses, were at Enrique’s wedding.

Morgantown, West Virginia— Cindy is a recent widow. She is driving the interstate, on her way home from work. It’s late.

She sees a girl, walking the shoulder, pushing a stroller. She wears a fast-food uniform.

Cindy stops. “Can I give you a ride?” she asks.

The girl refuses and says she doesn’t mind walking.

Cindy sees her again the next morning. This time, it is raining. Cindy offers the girl and her baby a ride.

The girl tells Cindy she was kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, she has no family, and no place to stay.

The last few weeks, the girl’s been living in a friend’s garage, sleeping on an air mattress. Her baby has been sleeping in a cardboard box.

Cindy considers giving money, but it doesn’t feel like enough. So, she brings the young woman home.

The next day, Cindy gives the girl a gift-bag. There are gift certificates to a hundred different stores. Old Navy, Walmart, Target, you name it.

Then, Cindy gives the girl a set of car keys.

“What’re the keys for?” the young woman asks.

Cindy points out her window toward a blue Toyota—her late husband’s car.

“I want you to have that,” says Cindy.

Branson, Missouri—Phillip was a teenager who’d decided to run away from home.

It’s the same old story. He was the black sheep of his family. The youngest of three brothers—who were all hard on him. The runt.

Phillip’s mother died when he was six. His father worked full-time.

There was a fight between brothers. Tempers flared. A few black eyes. Some bruised ribs. Ugly words were used.

That next morning, Phillip left on a bus for Atlanta. It was an adolescent thing to do, but kids will be kids.

For most of the ride, Phillip looked out the window and cried. He missed his mother. He missed his family. He missed everything.

When he arrived in Atlanta he stepped off the bus and heard a crowd of people shout his name.

His father, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even a few friends from school. A whole greeting party. All that was missing was the marching band.

Some folks even held signs like: “We love you Phillip. Come Home!”

It was a twenty-person hug. And it lasted a long time.

“I never believed anyone loved me that much,” said Phillip.

Believe it.

Now here’s the part you knew was coming: this world is sick. And sad. And it can be a lonely place to live. If you don’t believe me, just turn on the evening news.

Hate is for sale, and it’s buy-one-get-one-free this week. People are killing people. Crime-scene tape gets strung across innocent porches. Explosions right and left.

You might not feel like anybody cares about anybody anymore in this old place. And maybe you’re right.

But if you ask me, you owe it to yourself to meet Nurse Enrique.


  1. Jack Darnell - April 20, 2018 5:44 am

    Thanks dude, I like this. soon I will………

  2. Beth Reed - April 20, 2018 6:28 am

    Random acts of kindness! I was reading a persons blog the other day and someone had left a small gift at her front door. Just a small random acts of kindness that made her smile and not only that but I am sure that it kept her guessing a long time about who cared enough to think of her.
    I was living in Nevada. It was a Sunday and I had my grandson while his mom and dad went grocery shopping. They had taken the bus and it was a cold November day.
    They called me to say that the bus had passed their stop several times and it was starting to rain. I put the baby in my pickup and headed to pick them up. Half way out of town I realized that my gas guage was on empty. I pulled in a 7-11 then realized I had no money. I had my paycheck but the bank was closed. I scrounged up some loose change and took the baby in with me, counted out a pitiful amount praying it would get me at least to my daughters bus stop.
    I buckled the baby in and started the pump. That’s when a lady came to me and said “Fill it up honey, I am paying for your tank.”
    What an awesome thing to do.
    I try to give more in this life than I take, but sometimes things happen and we cannot always do what we would like.
    I buy little toys, or have a Happy Meal from McDonald’s just for the toys and keep them in my purse and if I see a child crying or fussy I can reach in and make a fussy child a little happier for a little while.
    We can always find something nice to do for someone else. Not everything has to be on a grand scale.
    I would love to be able to help others like the people that you wrote about but I can’t. What I can do is help someone be who might need the door opened for them, help someone find what they are looking for or just listen to what they are saying.
    Little Random acts of kindness can go a very long way and I have very good people that do that for me for no reason at all.
    Great story Sean. Thanks for sharing. I hope that Random acts of kindness continue for years to come and beyond. Beth

    • Nancy - April 20, 2018 9:32 am

      You are a blessing!

  3. Pamela McEachern - April 20, 2018 6:59 am

    I was in a drive thru after work one day and got to the window and the guy handed me my lunch and said the person in front of me had bought it. What an awesome surprise, I just gave him my money and asked him to pass it on. I saw an elderly gentleman in the rear view mirror and I sincerely hoped he would enjoy it as much as I would enjoy mine. It feels so great to pass it on and it means so much when it happens. I try to live with an attitude of graditude everyday. Thank you for graciously sharing your words with us all.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  4. Cathi - April 20, 2018 8:07 am

    Another column that made me smile. Even with an AWFUL stomach virus.

  5. Pam - April 20, 2018 11:40 am

    Enrique the nurse?♥️
    How absolutely wonderful

  6. Karen Hand - April 20, 2018 11:59 am

    I really enjoy your writing. I have a friend in Florida who shares your daily post. Thank you for giving hope to the hopeless.

  7. Carol ann ROTHWELL - April 20, 2018 12:17 pm

    I met you,that’s how I know there is still good in this world,& love….
    Sean,God has a message for you to share!
    Thank you for sharing it!!
    Love ya.?!

  8. Jo Ann - April 20, 2018 12:19 pm

    Thank you & bless you again, Sean. Let us not forget the good people & the good in people.

  9. Edna B. - April 20, 2018 12:57 pm

    I love starting my day here. Your stories are so very inspiring. There are lots of good folks in this world. And I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of them. You have an awesome day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. muthahun - April 20, 2018 2:56 pm

    Just shared a bagel with friends. On the way home, we were talking about how we’d all been procrastinating lately… tired… no energy, hard to get things done. Not that anything in our daily lives was that horrid, just an over-arching sense of dread, “Like everything I ever thought about how things work in my country has gone all wobbly” said one friend.
    And then you tell me about Enrique – an immigrant – and other people helping people. And before I get Babs’s song stuck in my head, I’ll say thanks for the reminder, Sean. You’re a peach!

  11. Jack Quanstrum - April 20, 2018 3:34 pm

    Great story and theme to counteract this sick world. Thank you for all your writings, they make a difference.

  12. Garnet Faulkner - April 20, 2018 6:13 pm

    Tears of joy.

  13. Michael Hawke - April 21, 2018 2:31 am

    You are truly gifted. Thank you.

  14. Sharon - April 21, 2018 12:24 pm

    Sean, Thank you for bringing a sense of love and joy and just simple kindness into our homes everyday. Simple reminders of kindness and how when you pass it on it grows and grows into something very beautiful.

  15. Sue Cronkite - April 21, 2018 2:15 pm

    Another great morning waker-upper.

  16. Fraulein - April 21, 2018 9:27 pm

    This is one that brought tears to my eyes. What is this world doing to one another? Continue to pray to the one that loves and cares for all.

  17. ponder304 - April 22, 2018 11:10 am

    Pondering these thoughts….Bless you Sean!

  18. Ellen Parker - April 22, 2018 1:00 pm

    Wonderful. When I shared to FB, the work Ordinary has a typo. Shared anyway, but knew you would like to know, so you can correct it. Thanks for sharing your writing. I always enjoy it!

  19. Tina - June 26, 2018 1:29 pm

    Blessed are the peacemakers…thanks.

  20. Linda Acres - June 26, 2018 8:34 pm

    Dear Sean, I don’t think you do politics but I just wish the world could hear more about these Americans, the ones who see only people and do all they can to help one another. If only people like this were in charge.
    Keep reminding us they are there!


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