A story I read recently on the news wire about a young man helping a family that had become stranded along a highway brought back memory of a similar incident from years ago.
It was late one Sunday night in October that my family and I were returning from a visit to another city. About 60 miles from our home, we experienced a major engine problem and we found ourselves stranded in the dark.
The preceding week had been an emotional one anyway. Now, we were facing another challenge, one without a quick solution. This was before cell phones were as popular as they are today, and shortly after I had given up having a CB radio in the vehicle. So, there we were … stuck.
This was one time my belief in the theory of STR (Stop … Think … React …) wasn’t producing much in the way of results. The only things in our favor were that we could use the flashers and we had blankets, water and a few treats.
But about a half-hour later, a modern-day good Samaritan and his wife happened to pass our disabled vehicle as they headed back to college from a visit to see their parents.
They found a turn-around and drove back to check on us after seeing my son and I outside with the hood up.
They drove us to the next exit where we were able to call for help, then took us back to the car to wait for assistance to arrive. When I tried to give them money for their inconvenience, they refused. The husband told us that something similar had happened to his wife not long before that and a motorist came to her rescue.
“Just remember this if you see someone stranded and get them help,” he said. “Maybe we can keep the string going and make things better and safer for everyone.”
I know that’s asking a lot, trying to turn around an attitude of distrust that has built through the years because of instances along our roadways where people have been hurt or even killed. But it did give us hope. And it was wonderful to know that there were people who are willing to help.
It was a few years later when I had a chance to repay that favor, one snowy December day. An elderly gentleman had become stuck and had no coat or gloves to combat the cold. I helped free his car, then, when he tried to pay me, told him about my experience on the road.
He said he would tell everyone how the act of kindness was repaid and encourage them to assist, through a phone call or whatever means possible.
The string of kindness continues.