Sherwood mailman delivers hope to boy during pandemic

Special Reports

How a simple game of Tic Tac Toe can bring a postal carrier, a boy and a dog together

SHERWOOD, Ark.- A dog can be a boy’s best friend and a mailman’s worst nightmare.

But for one boy in Sherwood, watching his postal carrier one day give his playful pup hugs and kisses led to a bond over a different type of X’s and O’s.

For a lot of kids like Bryson Spradlin, the last several months have been a bummer.

“It’s not easy, living in a pandemic,” Bryson said. “I couldn’t see my friend. He lives all the way in Jacksonville and I was looking forward to the summer because we could spend time…and then we couldn’t.”

With all that time at home, loneliness crept in.

“It’s like, why did this happen to us?” Bryson said.

But Bryson and his mom had good company through quarantine, their sheepdog, Charlie.

Charlie has a puppy’s heart. He gets into mischief, especially with his favorite mailman, Terry.

One day, Charlie jumped into Terry’s mail truck!  

“You know, dogs have a sense about people and he had no trouble jumping up in here and I was wondering if he was going to leave or not,” said USPS mail carrier Terry Gee.

But Terry didn’t get mad.

“And then he just gave him hugs and kisses and stuff,” Bryson said.

Up to that point, Bryson and Terry’s only connection was just a wayward sheepdog.

That is, until one day on Terry’s route, he opened up Bryson’s mailbox and there was a Tic Tac Toe board taped to this inside.

Bryson’s creative idea was a bold move. After all, it is a game meant for two.

And Terry bit.  

“I was like, oh, he actually responded,” Bryson said with a smile on his face.

“Next thing you know, we’re playing tic tac toe,” Terry said. “How cool is this?”

The three games they played went back and forth for weeks. The score? Bryson won two and there was one draw.

“We need to look at the tape,” Terry joked.

Strangers do need their space in the pandemic.  

But strangers also need each other sometimes, too.

“Even though it takes you two seconds to write an “O” on there and move on, it’s fun thinking that hey, somebody wants to talk to me out here,” Terry said.

“It’s because I finally get to do something with other people,” Bryson said.

It’s a simple story about a boy, his dog, a mailman and a game as old as time.

But more than that, it’s a lesson in community.

“Have fun with people, you know,” Terry said. “Why do you wanna ignore someone?”

“He made me happy by doing this and I appreciate it,” Bryson said.

While all of us are “x-ing” out our plans, one small circle is drawing together an unlikely friendship.

“To know that I did something to make a child’s day happier makes my day happier,” Terry said.

“Thank you so much,” Bryson said.  

It’s proof that in lonely times if you’re the person brave enough to “go first,” a friend just may deliver.

The score still stands, Bryson, two and that one draw. The playing has slowed down a lot since school started and Bryson went back to in-person learning.

But we can guarantee that if Bryson left out another tic tac toe board, Terry would be game.

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