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Train Our Brain To See

Good News and Good People is a weekly column by Local Pulse Lifestyle Editor, Dana Hairston Hof.

Photo: John Calabrese

Good News and Good People: Train Our Brain To See

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Last week was the first installment of my column, Good News and Good People.

It wasn’t long before somebody asked me what it means to be “Good People.” For example, “I like that Betty Jean, she’s good people.”

Now before you get tied up and twisted in your Queen’s English drawers over singular and plural, “Good People” is in the 2023 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Incorporated. 

Two words. One noun. 

It means an honest, helpful, or morally good person. 

I guess we could say, “I like that Betty Jean, she’s a good person.”

But it doesn’t have the same marinated kick or delivery. Also, we just don’t want to.

Editor’s Note: Twisted up Queen’s English drawers are best straightened out with a hot iron or a baptism in the Blackwater River. Plenty of Southern Dialect Preachers are on standby for the latter.

Besides Betty Jean, people that make barbecue are almost always good people, too, and the following is no exception.

I was scrolling the other day like we tend to do when we’re avoiding all the things that need to be done and up pops this story about a kid named Carter, nicknamed Tarter, who lives in Wichita.

I’ve never been to Wichita, Kansas before. I don’t have anything against Kansas except it doesn’t have a sugar-white beach and isn’t located in the South. On top of that, Rock Chalk is a ridiculous chant, unlike the sensible ones in the SEC like Woo Pig Sooie, War Eagle, and Roll Tide.

Anyway, Carter Nicknamed Tarter works at a barbecue restaurant washing dishes and doing trash duty. So far, he’s saved $3,000 to buy his first car.

Some son-of-a-gun sold that kid a truck for $2,000 and it broke down 15 miles later. Tough lesson for a 17-year-old on the conniving art of humanity. 

Of course, Some People would say, “Well what do you expect with a $2,000 car?” But this ain’t a story about Some People, it’s a story about Good People.

His employer, When Pigs Fly! Barbecue posted the story online and asked if anyone had a cheap reliable car they were ready to sell. The restaurant owner couldn’t stand the thought of this hard-working kid getting burned this way. 

Y’all know what came next. Especially if I’m Dana in Pensacola reading about Carter Nicknamed Tarter in Wichita.

Almost 8,000 shares and a quarter-million views. And the comments sure blessed my heart. 

A paralegal said she’d donate her services for a civil suit. There was also lots of personal advice doled out about small claims court and lemon laws. Folks started pitching in towards the cost of a car. A free transmission was offered to replace the busted one. A mechanic to help install the free transmission. An offer to buy back the dead truck he just bought. A loaner car was offered until a new one was found. And an alarm donation for a new car that’s hopefully coming. 

There were also lots of offers to “pay a visit to the seller,” but that ain’t none of my business.

In came prayers for resolution from New Jersey and a donation to PayPal from North Carolina; more donations and messages came from Florida, New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, Texas, Rhode Island, and even Los Angeles, California. 

Carter ended up with a new car, but the best gift was a changed perspective. Thousands intent on righting a wrong lit up and nearly erased the darkness created by one person. That is how we will change this world. By leaving behind particles of light in the dark corners. 

There are not always good things, but there are always Good People. We just have to train our brains to see them.

The ones makin’ plates of barbecue are the easiest to spot.

Start your trainin’ there.

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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.