Smoke billowed from under the hood of my U-Haul truck as the beep, beep, beep warning signal screamed for me to stop. Every ounce of deductive reasoning skills in my body told me to stop and to do it right now! By the time the oil light flashed, I recited every Baptist, Methodist and Catholic prayer I knew.
Only one more mile to get out of the one lane construction zone. The only options were to stop or drive. Pulling over was not an option. The lake was to the right and a concrete barrier was to the left, with no shoulder present on either side. My youngest son is following me, and senses the danger, as my truck slowed to a crawl and the scent of burning oil infiltrated his car cabin.
“Just a quarter of a mile more,” I pleaded to the breaking-down jalopy. “You can do it! I think you can! I think you can! I KNOW you can,” as words to Thomas the Tank Engine recited hundreds of times to my boys at nighttime bed readings flowed crazily through my mind.
The entire city of Eufaula, Oklahoma must have heard the news of the smoking truck. At least, it felt that way to me, as I rolled the truck into the parking lot of a gas station that shared a parking lot with a restaurant. The growing crowd goosenecked, expecting and I believe some hoping a fire would soon occur.
“I saw ya comin a mile away and felt sorry for ya, “said the grinning man in overalls. “I knew you had nowhere to stop in that one lane. I was pullin for ya to make it,” he said, as he put a pinch in between his cheek and gums.
My son and I surveyed our new surroundings. We could not believe our eyes when we saw the name of the restaurant was:
“I Smell Bacon”
“Home of the Big Pig”
We immediately felt right at home.
While waiting for help, we sat outside the “Home of the Big Pig.” ESPN was playing the Hog baseball game, and that helped get our minds off our misfortunes for a while. Etched in the bench we sat on were the words, “Luv Yer Nay Ber. “
Surely this was a good sign.
The door to the “I Smell Bacon” swung open and a lady, who I assumed was a cook, walks outside, no doubt with intentions of pulling one down.
“Y’all the ones who broke down?” she asks, as I realize our unfolding episode was spreading and had been discussed inside the “Big Pig.”
Without waiting for a response, as if she already knew the answer, she said, “Y’all did the right thing calling those Ballard brothers. Y’all are in good hands. They’ll take care of you. Those Ballard brothers are Good People.”
“Y’all come on inside. I’ll fix you some water or sweet tea,” she almost demanded. “Y’all ain’t got to buy anything.”
When she did not give me the choice of unsweetened tea, I knew she was “Good People.”
“Thanks, but we enjoy sitting out here in this nice weather,” we replied, almost apologizing.
A few minutes later, overall man meanders out of the “Bacon.” He’s wearing a warm smile and casually picking his teeth with a newly acquired toothpick. He tells us again how he felt sorry for us as he replayed the smoke billowing out from the truck on the one lane highway.
“Anything I can do for y’all while you wait?” he says, no doubt in my mind meaning every word of that statement. I’m positive he would take us in for the night if we asked.
We thank him and say we are fine.
As he gets in his pickup, he rolls down his window and affirms, “those Ballard brothers are Good People.”
Watching him drive away, I just know in my heart, he is “Good People.”
Back to watching the ballgame.
Out of the “Big Pig” comes what I believe to be the “Big Kahuna” translated as the owner of the “Bacon.”
“Y’all the guys who broke down?” She asks, again, more of a statement than a question. She knew by our looks we were the broken-down boys.
Kahuna was wearing a purple tie-dyed tee shirt advertising her local sports team. Purple is my hometown team’s color. I immediately take a liking to her.
“Well bless your hearts!”
Bless my heart? I can’t even remember the last time someone said bless my heart!
“Those Ballard brothers are Good People. They will fix you right up. You are in good hands. You know, their daddy started that business. I went to school with him,” Kahuna, a little too proudly recollects, making me wonder if there could possibly be some history there. “He is Good People also,” she says, as that dream cloud over her head slowly fades.
“Y’all must come inside. Tonight is “Steak Night,” she says, using air quotes with her fingers. “I’ll fix y’all some sweet tea and make your day better!”
I had to remind myself I was a married man of forty years, as I felt the urge to propose right there on the spot with my son as my witness!
Yes, the Big Kahuna was “Good People.”
Before we knew it, those Ballard brothers, just as advertised, had us fixed up.
“Now here is what we did. Y’all take this extra anti-freeze along with you and make sure you call us when you get there so we know you made it ok, “the brothers said.
My son and I resisted the urge to hug and kiss them right there in front of the entire town of Eufaula.
Those brothers were indeed, “Good People.”
As I reflect on my life, I grew up believing everyone was “Good People.” Life’s difficulties made me lose that innocent thinking over time.
I’ve tried to be “Good People.” I’ve succeeded at times and failed miserably many times.
Today’s media is constantly trying to convince us the world is full of bad people. I don’t buy it.
I remember you taking time for me back when. You know who you are. You are “Good People.”
I remember you saying you prayed for me once. You are “Good People.”
I remember you encouraging me when I was at my lowest point. You are “Good People.”
I remember you celebrating with me when I was at my highest point. You are “Good People.”
I remember…. yes, even though you did me wrong, well, I believe deep down, even you are” Good People.”
The world desperately needs “Good People.”
Good people sometimes need “Good People” to help them through troubling times.
Sometimes bad people need “Good People” to provide the example to them to convert to “Good People.”
A wise person once told me no matter where you go, in every town, there will always be “Good People.”
I’m gonna try to always be “Good People.”
Will you join me?
And by the way, if you are ever in Eufaula, Oklahoma, stop in at the “I Smell Bacon” restaurant. “Home of the Big Pig.”
It will “Bless Your Heart!”
And the Ballard Brothers Towing?
They are “Good People.”