People Are Good

CLEAR SPRING, Md.—Tom Grosh was doing his civic duty during the coronavirus outbreak by standing on the side of the highway, offering free toilet paper to motorists.

His wife, his neice, and two teenage friends joined him, holding cardboard signs which read, “FREE T.P.!” Tom himself climbed onto his truck tailgate, waving rolls of 2-ply toilet paper at traffic.

Tom explained, “I was sitting in the office doing some work at the end of the day, God said to me, ‘You gotta help your fellow man.’ I knew exactly where to go to get the toilet paper and went and bought it.”

Tom bought 960 rolls, loaded them into his pickup, and gave them to anyone who had fallen victim to the Great Toilet Paper Shortage. People tried to pay Tom for the paper, but he wouldn’t accept money.

“We’re just trying to be a blessing and make somebody’s life a little better,” said Tom.

I will refrain from making any toilet paper jokes here, even though it would be very easy. Frankly, I’m just too wiped out.

HARTLEY, Iowa—Friday morning. The last day of school, before the world closed down. Elderly Bonnie Linder was on her porch. Bonnie always stands on her porch in the mornings so she can wave to the schoolbus. This is a highlight of her day.

It was a chilly sunrise. Bonnie heard the diesel engine. She started waving. But the yellow bus surprised her when it hissed to a stop before her house. Every window opened. A million rosy faces popped out and shouted, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

All Bonnie could do was laugh. Emotions will do that to a person.

Happy 93rd birthday, Miss Bonnie.

PORTLAND, Maine—Nathan Nichols told his tenants they could skip paying rent for April. His renters are blue-collar workers, Nathan knows work will be slow in the coming months. So he wanted to help.

Which is sort of miraculous, considering that some landlords are notorious for acting like giant toilet paper wads. I base this statement on my old landlord who once accused me of destroying our living room carpet by sneaking in a 90-pound bloodhound, even though we weren’t allowed to have pets.

My landlord’s untrue pet accusations were backed up by other tenants, who also claimed they saw an alleged bloodhound eating from flower boxes and begging for food whenever any neighbors fired up a barbecue grill. Ridiculous.

I denied these allegations flatly. So did my bloodhound.

Anyway, Nathan has encouraged other landlords to be gracious. He said, “I ask any other landlords out there to take a serious look at your own situation and consider giving your tenants some rent relief.”

And, for the love of God, please let your tenants have dogs. Thank you.

RALEIGH, N.C.—Last night, Jessie, Michael, and Elena took up playing marbles. They are home from school. Their mother was tired of seeing them glued to their cellphones and stuck on a sofa. So she hid their phones and made them play in the backyard.

The kids found some marbles. They asked their mother how to play, but their mother didn’t know how. So she called their grandfather in California who walked everyone through a game of marbles via video phone call.

Soon, the whole family was deeply involved in a game and was shooting marbles until after dark.

“It was pretty fun,” said 10-year-old Elena. “But I still really miss my phone. I know where my mom hid it.”

CHICAGO—The city shut down on Monday. So did the Shedd Aquarium, an indoor public aquatic center. Since the aquarium was empty, it seemed like a perfect time to (why not?) let all the penguins wander free. I am serious about this.

Yesterday afternoon, several rockhopper penguins traipsed through the indoor aquarium halls, pausing now and then to visit the other animals and shoot the breeze.

One penguin named Wellington—who has feathers poking from his head that resemble lambchop sideburns—really freaked out over the Amazon fish exhibit. Wellington froze when he saw the fish and was happier than a kid in a toilet paper store.

Zoologists nearby understood Wellington to be communicating with the rest of his flock, and believe he was actually saying, “LOOK! SUSHI!”

Wellington later told reporters he has no intentions of trimming his sideburns.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—You should have been at Helena Schlam’s house yesterday. You would have heard some good music. Seventy-eight-year-old Helena sat at the far corner of her front porch, several feet away, while Taran and Tien put on a concert in the other corner.

Taran (age 9) wore his nice suit. Tien (age 6) wore her fanciest dress. They carried their cellos from across the street, tuned them, rosined their bows, and took requests. Young Taran reportedly ripped out a 10-minute solo to “Freebird,” before Tien wailed on “Mustang Sally.”

No, I am only kidding. They played selections from “Suzuki Cello Book 1,” some Bach selections, and some early Stones. The concert lasted for a little over 30 minutes.

Miss Helena said, “I haven’t been out of my house for five days, and I won’t be out anytime soon… It was such a real gift.”

I’ll close by saying that I don’t know where these words find you today, but I know that anxiety is running rampant right now. Then again, so are good people. And so is goodwill. Whatever you do, don’t forget that.

If anyone needs toilet paper, see Tom Grosh for details. He’s still parked on the side of the highway.


  1. Karen Greatrix - March 18, 2020 7:11 am

    Thank you thank you just what I needed.

  2. Sharon Lawson - March 18, 2020 8:45 am

    Thank you. Please keep o doing what your doing. We all need you during this crazy times.

  3. Norma Den - March 18, 2020 8:55 am

    Sean you are a light in the darkness of a despairing & panicking world. Thank you for your upbeat blogs. May God bless you for the cheer you are bringing. Even across the world here in South Africa your messages of cheer & hope are appreciated.

  4. Ginger - March 18, 2020 10:24 am

    I sure love you, Sean and all of your awesomeness. Some folks give toilet paper and some folks give words. We need both. God bless you.

  5. Linda Broyles - March 18, 2020 11:01 am

    I woke up early worrying about my daughter who is a healthcare worker, and this column was in my email. Thank you so much, Sean.

  6. Leigh Amiot - March 18, 2020 11:10 am

    Lovely! Like everyone else, reading of these kind deeds is a calm in this pandemic.
    And Linda Broyles, I just paused to pray for your daughter. Bless her. We are all in this together, and she is in this in a more valiant way!

  7. Judith A Mercer - March 18, 2020 11:30 am

    Sometimes, the worst of times brings out the best in people…..

  8. Sandra Schumann - March 18, 2020 11:47 am

    Thank you for these encouraging stories of kindness. Shared on Facebook as I did the last set of these wonderful incidents of what we can do to help others! Keep them coming!

  9. Elizabeth - March 18, 2020 12:17 pm

    You are my “normal” in the crazy. Thank you!

  10. Donna J. Masmar - March 18, 2020 12:59 pm

    You make my day every morning–we need you and your inspirational thoughts. Thanks a lot from a faithful Iowa reader.

  11. K Clem - March 18, 2020 2:08 pm

    I’m loving these good people stories! 👏🏻💕

  12. Betty F. - March 18, 2020 2:13 pm

    Thanks for collecting good news!

  13. Sara Smith - March 18, 2020 3:06 pm

    Another great read! Thanks Sean👏

  14. Patricia A Schmaltz - March 18, 2020 3:12 pm

    You are a shining spot in my day. Thank you so much. BTW… the Sam’s Club line wrapped around the parking lot this morning… I was laughing all the way to the end! Ya gotta keep your humor in all of this mess.

  15. Linda Moon - March 18, 2020 4:03 pm

    I’m sorry to hear you’re too “wiped out” to add levity to the COVID-19 Apocalypse. Laughter IS the best medicine, so just keep laughing along with Bonnie on her 93rd celebration of life. I would’ve listened to Freebird on Cello, and I’ll just listen to my other choice later today: Lynyrd Sknynrd’s version. If you leave here tomorrow, Sean,I’ll still remember you!

  16. AlaRedClayGirl - March 18, 2020 4:55 pm

    Thank you for another good one, Sean. I can’t help but think of Charles Dickens who wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The worst oftentimes does bring out the best in people.

  17. Patricia Gibson - March 18, 2020 4:58 pm

    Thank God for you Sean! Sharing the good things sure helps❤️

  18. MermaidGrammy - March 18, 2020 5:16 pm

    Thank you for the light you shine so brightly

  19. Pam Crichton - March 18, 2020 5:27 pm

    Thank you, Sean! We read you every morning and you start our day off really well! We are all feeling blue about our world, and your happy stories really do make things better! Our friends, Robert and Elizabeth from Montrose, ALA introduced you to us, and we have read you everyday since! Thank you!

  20. Dee Frances Hoomes Wichman from Damascus, AL but now of Ocean Springs, MS - March 18, 2020 7:15 pm

    Thank you so much for your always uplifting stories. I am so tired of listening to coronavirus woes that your writing is especially enjoyed. My oldest daughter bought me your books for Christmas so I always have you in my house and on my mind. God bless you.

  21. sholmes53 - March 18, 2020 8:01 pm

    Thanks! This made me smile! My anxiety has been terrible. I’m in that senior citizen group! You always bring me a breath of fresh air ❤️

  22. Beverly Wynn Bua - March 18, 2020 10:21 pm

    Buying 960 rolls of toilet paper st once seems counter productive to me….. even if he gave it all away. There had to be a lot of people who went to
    The store & found no toilet paper that day because of that good ole boys mis guided intentions.
    Okay, so I’m a grouch today because it’s raining & it’s my 6 day of quarantine!!!!!!!
    Stay safe, All …❤️😷☮️

  23. Rebecca J Cotney - March 18, 2020 11:04 pm

    Thank you Sean for making my day brighter.

  24. Tammy S. - March 19, 2020 4:23 pm

    You and your insights to life and uplifting shared stories of life in other places are so needed right now. Starting each day with my daily devotional and then reading your daily emails always bring me hope, encouragement and a smile. Thank you Sean. Prayers for you & Jamie in all this.

  25. Mignon craft watson - April 22, 2020 1:27 am

    Just finished reading your new book. What a great book!!! Brought back a lot of memories growing up in Covington county

  26. Carol - April 22, 2020 9:18 am

    Forget the toilet paper… All I need is you to brighten up my dreary days! Thank you, Sean!! 💜

  27. Mary Hicks - April 26, 2020 9:30 pm

    Sometimes it seems when bad things come our way, good always comes also. Thanks Sean. God bless you and Jamie and Thelma Lou.


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