A busy lunch joint. Seated beside me is a man reading a newspaper. I glance at a sobering headline that reads: “Pandemic Rages On—Again.” The man with the paper sighs, and folds it closed.
Meanwhile, the television above the bar rolls shocking footage of a shooting. This is followed by reporters talking about more bad stuff. Then come pharmaceutical commercials by the dozen. Followed by legal commercials on how to sue the pants off pharmaceutical companies.
The waitress looks at the TV and says, “Lordy mighty, they never tell you anything good anymore, do they?”
She flips the channel. The TV shows a riot. She flips again. A televangelist in a silk suit is weeping. Flip, flip, flip. On the screen are two newsmen shouting at each other with spittle flying. She flips again. The news announcer says: “And now for more COVID updates…”
Mercifully, she turns the television off.
A man at the bar says, “Thank you.”
Another man raises a coffee mug. “Amen.”
The mood improves considerably. Pretty soon the waitress is playing music overhead. It’s George Strait, singing about Amarillo. And color is being restored to the world. Thank you, George.
The waitress warms up my coffee and I’m feeling a lot better now.
It’s been a hard few weeks for my family. And certainly, I know the universe is full of cruddy current events—as seen on TV. But isn’t there anything good happening out there?
The answer is yes. And as it happens, I have one such item of good news to share. A few months ago, I met a man who told me about angels.
“Angels?” I asked skeptically.
“Yes, angels,” he said.
The man was white-haired. He looked like your favorite granddaddy. He spoke with a thick Georgia accent and wore enough plaid to cover a Plymouth.
“I was driving home late,” he began. “Crashed into a log truck.”
His wife held one of his arms while he leaned onto a cane. The man showed me photos of the accident. It was horrific.
He touched the scar on his neck. “The logs hit me right here. Had surgery, they cut me open and replaced C-seven with a cadaver bone and titanium. I shouldn’t be walking right now. It’s a miracle I wasn’t decapitated.”
His wife elbowed him, “But tell him about the angel.”
“Oh yeah, the angel.”
“Tell him about how he saved you.”
“Right, well, I was…”
“Go on, tell him, George.”
“Dadgumit, I will if you let me.”
A stranger came out of nowhere and dragged the old man from the wreckage. The stranger instructed him not to move his head, then the stranger used both hands to hold the man’s neck completely motionless for forty minutes until paramedics came. This angel saved his life, then vanished.
The accident wounded a lot more than the old man’s body. A mind is never really the same after trauma.
“They said I had PTSD,” he went on. “I couldn’t get behind the wheel of my car, I was terrified.”
His wife elbowed again. “Tell him about the road trip.”
“Right. Well, I was…”
“Tell him about the trip across the United States.”
He looked at her.
After he healed, they took the trip of a lifetime. He forced himself to crawl into the driver’s seat. It took a while to get the courage, but he did it. He and his wife spent twenty-four days driving U.S. highways and seeing North America at eye level.
They had so much fun, they turned around and did the whole trip a second time.
“But that’s not the best part,” says his wife, elbowing his ribs. “Tell, him, George.”
Years later, one night they were in a catfish joint when he heard a voice coming from another booth. He recognized this voice. Then he started getting chills.
The old man approached the guy with the voice and asked, “Excuse me, sir, your voice sounds familiar.”
The guy recognized him. The guy stood and said, “My God, you look a lot different than when I found you in that car.”
They hugged. The old man’s eyes immediately became wet when he retold this story to me many years later.
“It was the angel,” his wife said.
“Yeah,” the old man said. “An angel. A real one. Who also happened to be an EMT.”
If you want to be scared to death, all you have to do is pick up a remote control. A news anchor will gladly tell you about how the universe is falling apart and how your drinking water will kill you.
I’m not saying those things aren’t true. Believe me, I’m not here to throw stones at journalists. Shoot rubber bands at them? Maybe. But I draw the line at stones.
Still, if you ask me, there is a lot more in the world than what’s on your screen. There are miracles everywhere, every day, they just don’t sell many newspapers.
When the waitress asks if I am ready to pay my bill, I tell her yes. Then I thank her for the George Strait. And above all, for turning off the tube.
“No problem,” she says. “I can’t watch much TV anymore, brings me down. I got enough junk to deal with these days.”
Lordy mighty. Me too.