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.