Colatta is her name. She and I are in the elevator together. She is pushing a large cart of cleaning supplies and mini shampoos.
Colatta is short, cheery. She’s wearing scrubs. She is pure Alabama. She has an accent that won’t quit, and wears a War Eagle headband.
“Went to Auburn,” she says. “Wanted to be a vet, but didn’t even come close to finishing ‘cause I had my son.
“Man, I thought my life was over, it was just beginning.”
Her boyfriend didn’t stick around during pregnancy. She was forced to work. Her job was in a hotel laundromat. She was promoted to a maid last year.
“Have a good day,” she says to me, rolling her cart down a corridor.
“You, too,” I say.
“Me?” She laughs. “Already HAVING me a good day. I’m so blessed it ain’t funny.”
Colatta. I love that name.
Later that day, I drive two hours east. I stop at a cafe inside a gas station. It’s a hole-in-the-wall.
After eating, I pay at the register. The cashier is older, very skinny. She places a handheld vibrating box to her throat to speak. Her voice is robotic.
She hands me a receipt. Then, she presses the device to her neck again and says: “Have a good day. Enjoy this nice weather.”
There is a gnarled scar beneath her jaw.
And she’s wishing ME a nice day.
7:09 P.M.—I’ve driven all day. I’m eating in a locals-only beer joint. People in this room are looking at me funny. I’m an out-of-towner and they smell it.
There’s an old man with a service dog—a brown Lab named Hershey.
The man wears a ball cap with a battleship on it. He shows me a tattoo on his forearm which reads: “Albert, Daniel, Adam.”
“My three brothers,” he says. “Killed in Europe. I was too young for the Big War, they sent me to Korea.”
That’s all he says about it.
When he stands to leave, it’s hard for him to move. He limps. The dog walks close beside him.
The bartender explains that this man is one of America’s finest—who still suffers from a forgotten war.
Before the man leaves, he says, “Y’all be good.”
Everyone inside waves goodbye.
Right now, I’m writing from a hotel room. I’ve had a busy day. I’ve driven far. I’ve talked with people.
And I’ve heard words. Nice words. Kind words.
I believe in words, you see. I believe they do things. I don’t know how they work, and I don’t care. Saying simple words can make the sick feel a little better, make the sad smile, and make old men remember.
I believe in using them to glorify those who work hard, those who have lost voiceboxes, and those who suffer.
I’m a nobody from nowhere. But I believe in little, trivial letters, strung together to make sounds which form words. Words that help. Words that may or may not mean a thing to you.
Words like: you’re beautiful.
And: nothing bad lasts forever.
And: you are more exceptional than you will ever know.
And: God bless you, Colatta.
Heidi - September 29, 2018 12:44 pm
Thank you for normalcy, kind words, good people, simple values, loving one another. We need this so badly right now. You start my days off well.
Nancy - September 29, 2018 12:49 pm
Thank you for the words you send us every day. Your words are the first thing I read most every morning and I appreciate how they set my heart for the day!
Joy - September 29, 2018 12:58 pm
Sean, I am thankful for your words…I am thankful for Colatta…the cashier who had to have her voice box replaced….the man with the Lab service dog named Hershey…the man with the ball cap and a tattoo on his arm to honor his brothers who served our country…These are are all Great Americans!
I too believe in words and I like the way you string them all together and tell your stories!
Quoting from the Psalms: “Give thanks unto the Lord,for He is good. His love endures forever”! Psalm 136:1
Love you Sean…please keep your stories coming!
Susan Swiderski - September 29, 2018 1:19 pm
Yes, words matter. A lot. Thinking a kind thing about another person doesn’t count; we have to say the words out loud. Let them be heard, and let them matter. When we take the time to say a kind word to a stranger, they’re almost always surprised, but they also almost always smile and respond. They long for connections as much as we do. Bless you for being one of those people who takes the time to say those words out loud and to write them down for us to read. Your words matter. YOU matter.
Kathy Wolfe - September 29, 2018 1:55 pm
Out of our mouths come life or death…we choose.
Sherry G Bourgeois - September 29, 2018 2:22 pm
Thank you! I feel blessed!
Jeanne Butler - September 29, 2018 3:25 pm
Words. I had a young friend (she’s 21 and I’ll soon be 74) text me this morning that she appreciates me and loves me and will see me next week at extended care at school we both work. I needed that today. Need it almost every day. Words thanks Gis for kind people and their words. Love you Sean.
Nancy Lane - September 29, 2018 6:51 pm
Keep writing, your words are what we need right now. There are a lot of hardworking, good people who need kind words and recognition.
just jack - September 29, 2018 7:31 pm
coming here makes m feel good. I like how you can see the good in people because there are so many good ones. thanks for pointing some o hem out
Carolyn from Georgia - September 29, 2018 8:00 pm
For sure! Words mean so much! Call your mom or dad or a friend that doesnt get out much! It will mean alot to them! All of a sudden someday they will be gone & you wont be able to call them! ♡♡♡
McDonald Plummer - September 29, 2018 8:07 pm
Really comforting to read your stories and reattach to life away from sinister political games.
Carol - September 29, 2018 8:38 pm
Yes , everything you said!
And two more!
Elizabeth - September 29, 2018 9:40 pm
You a nobody?? Not hardly…You weave words into stories that we enjoy reading and bring to life the people around us every day. A real people person. An optimist looking for the good and the goodness in folks. God puts us where we’re supposed to be…we just need to be aware that He is directing our path…I believe He is directing yours and something tells me you know that, too!
Sandi in FL. - September 30, 2018 5:17 am
Sean, you always ferret out the most insteresting people in your travels. Thanks for seeing the good in others and for sharing with us, your loyal readers. How fun it would be to just sit on a park bench and listen to YOU talk about life and other topics!
Karen Schofield - September 30, 2018 12:23 pm
Thank you for sharing your heart each day with us. The Lord be with you.
Ellen Walters - September 30, 2018 12:31 pm
So appreciate this story Sean. My grandma, who passed away in 1975, always told me that one of the greatest gifts God gave us were words. She was a teacher and because of health issues she literally traveled the world by reading. She also played the violin and I so treasure her because she was my mentor. I think I care and love her more everyday. Brilliant lady!!!!!!
Mark Miles - October 1, 2018 12:11 am
Sean, yes your words help. Thank you.
Jody - October 1, 2018 5:58 pm
Words can wound. Words can heal. Words can tear down. Words can lift up. And you,Sean use words to inspire. Thanks ♥️