Jeff Pearlman

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Paying it Forward in Weldon, N.C.

So this evening we stopped for dinner at Ralph’s BBQ, a side-of-the-road restaurant in the extraordinarily unexciting town of Weldon, N.C.

The wife, kids and I knew little of Weldon (I keep thinking of the former Florida State quarterback) and even less of Ralph’s. From afar, the place was neither eye-catching nor particularly interesting. Just a joint for grub. We were hungry, and it was either BBQ or Waffle House (the offspring wanted Waffly House).

Anyhow, we sat down and ate. Food was quite good—certainly the best peach cobbler I’ve had since leaving Nashville in 1996; and fried chicken (a food I rarely eat) that was strikingly delicious. Toward the end of the meal a kind woman named Leigh, our waitress, strolled over. “Your meal has been paid for,” she said. “There’s a Christian woman who comes in here every week and buys a family a meal without telling them she did so.” In fact, by the time Leigh had informed us, the customer was gone. “God has good plans for her,” Leigh said. “She’s wonderful.”

The wife and I were touched. And dazzled. As a people, our kind acts are usually rewarded with, at the least, a “Thank you” or even a hug. One can even argue the payoff for a good deed is the acknowledgment. Hence, for someone to simply buy our meal, sight unseen, anonymously, well, it touched our hearts. It truly did.

The wife, being the wife, said, “We need to pay for someone else’s meal.” We picked a family of four, sorta randomly, and I told Leigh what we sought to do. She beamed. “Just like Pay it Forward!” she said. “I love that! Goodness travels.”

Indeed.

Goodness travels.

  • Ben Bolch

    Good stuff. Try some Brunswick stew while you’re in North Carolina.

  • Bobby D

    That’s a nice story! ; )

  • michael

    paying it forward will never leave you unhappy.

  • Goodness travels. That’s a keeper. Thanks, Jeff. — Sonny

  • Kirk

    Wonder how many other people/families that she has paid for have done what you did. Sounds like from Leigh’s reaction to your suggestion that it doesn’t happen very often.

  • Well done.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life