It was a sunny day, and everything was fine.

Then I had to go get my car inspected.

I had the full “waiting room” experience.

Reading magazines I didn’t want to read, and watching television I didn’t want to see.

Over in the corner, on an end table, was the Holy Bible.

I didn’t pick it up, because I pretty much know how it begins.

But then I realized, if you ever want to find God, it’s when you’re getting your car inspected.

I’m sure Jesus would have wanted it that way.

This shop I was at was the Cracker Barrel of car places.

They had a homespun porch outside. It was just like Andy Griffith, with no Don Knotts.

If Aunt Bee was anywhere around, she was drilling on my car.

I would not get one of her famous pies today.

So I chanced to look at the neighborhood I grew up in.

I realized you CAN go home again, long as you hear the whispers.

There was University Baptist Church, which looks like a giant Arby’s now.

Got a big tin roof. Very shiny. Well I looked at the thing for awhile and remembered running around there as a kid.

On the second floor. 1971. Not sure if we were playing hide and seek or just running around.

The pastor came out and asked us what we were doing. “Just playing,” we said.

“That’s alright boys. You just go ahead and play.”

He did what every good pastor should do.

Kept me off alcohol for a whole 10 years.

Then a block away was that house. A man used to mow his lawn there.

He had white hair, and was some kind of Early Times distributor.

He had a German last name.

One year his company named him, “Early Times Man of the Year.”

I guess he sold a bunch of stuff, a record amount that year.

There was a billboard right on my street, in 1973, just to tell me all about it.

“Early Times Man of the Year” in big letters with his picture.

And he mowed his lawn very well.

Well, I never got to see my old house, the one I grew up in.

That’s OK. I can drive by it anytime.

Anyway, I pretty much know what it looks like.

[Articles by Robert Hankins have run on the Hearst News wire and the New York Times News Service. E-mail]