The Big Fat Golden Rule

Not that it matters what I think, but this world is a mess. Open your newspaper, turn on your television. Selfishness is for sale, and it's selling at clearance prices.

New Orleans, Louisiana: I once saw a teenage boy, lean as a two-by-four, tap-dancing on a sheet of cardboard. His brother beat a plastic bucket with drumsticks. The percussion got faster; so did the kid’s feet. Before long, fifty spectators had gathered. The kid danced until he broke a sweat.

For his big finish, so help me, the kid did a backflip. I found myself applauding and carrying on.

When the boys finished, all they’d earned were seven dollars in tips. I know this because five dollars in that box came from me. The disappointed young dancer swallowed his pride and yelled to everyone, “God bless y’all!”

And he looked like he meant it, too.

Chipley, Florida. Piggly Wiggly. A young girl and her boyfriend stood ahead of me in line. Her, with a baby on her hip. Him, covered in sawdust. On the conveyor belt: basic groceries, baby food, diapers, and formula.

The skinny boy reached into his pocket to pay. When he did, the manager came over and whispered into the young man’s ear, then winked at him. The kid put his wallet away, and with sincerity he said, “God bless you, sir.”

They left with a full buggy.

Mobile, Alabama: my truck broke down. It was raining. And during the dark-ages, before cellphones, to be stranded meant exactly that.

Four Mexican construction workers on their lunch break approached me. One of them was a mechanic. He fixed my truck right there. I tried to pay him, he refused. He slammed my hood shut, shook my hand, and left me with a “God bless you, my friend.” He said it in such a thick accent I almost missed it.

Not that it matters what I think, but this world is a mess. Open your newspaper, turn on your television. Selfishness is for sale, and it’s selling at clearance prices.

But to those of you who tap dance; who leave big tips; who compliment others; or like to kiss dogs on the jowls; who like to be the fella who buys lunch; who fix cars for strangers; who give hugs; who listen; who cry more often than they admit; or to anyone who woke up this morning feeling like hell;

God bless you.


  1. Sara Jane - March 22, 2016 4:10 pm

    Thank you Sean of the South, for reminding me why I love small towns and living out in the country. Read your blogs every day. It’s not just the Christmas and Fourth of July parade, waving at each and every townie as you walk down Front Street, or holding up traffic as your neighbor relates the latest from the church picnic through his pickup truck window. It’s KNOWING someone will always be there to help you out if you’re sick, in a jam, the car breaks down, of if you’ve had too much to drink on a Friday night, and need someone to hang on to your belt loops while you feed the fish in the St. Johns. It’s a special place, Sean, somewhere between heaven and earth, and city folk will never get it. : )

  2. Sandra Marrar - February 15, 2017 2:24 pm

    God bless you for reminding us of the goodness in people!

  3. Just Southern - February 15, 2017 3:07 pm

    I’ve been lectured on how horrible the South is by people who called themselves my friends but had never once set foot on the soil of this special place. We need more and more of these stories of what IS the South told.

    Back about Christmas I watched a double amputee have to pay for a $3 prescription with a buck 60 on his debit card and coins for the rest of it. He wouldn’t let me pay for it.

    After watching the cashier (an older lady I know well, like so many in this tiny town) dig through all the need a penny change baskets at each register to make sure he could get his prescription, I dumped all my change in the need a penny have a penny basket for the next one in need. The cashier asked if I was sure I could afford to put that much in there. It was maybe two dollars worth of silver and copper coated zinc. I can skip a tunafish sandwich for someone to have medicine. I toss all my change in a cup in the car now, so I can take it in for the need a penny box. You never know when your extra might be someone’s only.

  4. Peggy Perry - February 16, 2017 4:52 pm

    My dad was a tall, skinny, toothless, and bald guy who smiled a lot. I used to watch in amazement how he just attracted people like a magnet. He never had to worry about breaking down, though he did frequently, because some stranger always showed up and fixed it. People gave him stuff ALL the time. He rarely needed any of it, but they insisted he take it. Two different grocery stores gave him a full Christmas dinner one year. We had already put together a large dinner ourselves, because we all worked at good paying jobs. The next year we made a point of going to both stores and remarking on what a good year we had and what a big dinner we were having. His funeral was enormous. The visitation before the funeral was even bigger. He was a quiet guy, but apparently touched a lot of people. It’s been 25 years since I’ve seen him, and I am thankful for the ability to smile as I recall him.


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