Tuesday, November 28, 2023


He woke up to a man at his campsite asking for help. Should he have trusted him?

Back in January, I wrote a story about trusting a stranger’s help on the side of the road.

One of our readers, Tim Slack wrote in and told me his experience of being the one helping someone stranded. He wrote:

“Just read the ‘trust a stranger?’ story on RVTravel.com and thought I’d tell you my own. It absolutely raised the same question in my mind then…

I was traveling on I-70 and was just about to leave Colorado but decided to stay in Rabbit Valley, a few miles short of the UT line. I was in my old CJ-5 so I got off about a mile or more on a rough dirt road and set up my tent. Woke up the next morning and there was a guy sitting on a rock about 50 yds away from my camp.

He “really needs help”

He said he’d seen the winch on my jeep and really really needed me to help him. His story was he’d driven his old truck/camper off on the same road the previous night and just barely avoided driving into a deep arroyo in the dark. He asked me to drive him back to his rig and use my winch to drag his rig back from the lip of the precipice. It was about half over but hanging up on the frame kept him from going all the way over.

Is he armed? Does he want to kill me?

My thoughts: ‘How many compadres are waiting to mug me and take MY rig?’ ‘Is he armed and just wants to kill me to get a vehicle to continue his (probable) crime spree?’ etc. But I decided to pack up my camp and go help.

Truck on the edge

We drove maybe five miles further into the desert and came on his truck. No lurking gang members. Truck was right. on. the. edge. I was concerned about getting dragged over myself if his truck tipped! I parked my Jeep up behind a pretty large boulder, pulled out the winch cable, hooked it to the back axle, got back in, fired up the winch and dragged him back to level ground. No problem. The guy was crying as he thanked me profusely. Said he wanted to give me something but didn’t have any money. I told him just to pass on the favor to the next person he ran across needing help, and drove back to the road.

Wow – That felt good!

What a range of thoughts and feelings that gave me, though. All the way from ‘Was I going to get murdered?’ to ‘Wow, it felt good to literally save somebody’s ass!’”
Do you have any stories or experiences of your own similar to this about trusting a stranger or a stranger trusting you? Please share them in the comments below.
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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J.R. (@guest_187015)
1 year ago

As a retired man in my mid 60’s I can honestly say that over the years I have stopped to help many strangers; a couple on a motorcycle, a woman alone, a woman looking under the hood or changing a tire with kids watching and a ‘family’ comprised of a man woman and child but I have never stopped for an adult male that was alone I have however called in his location to authorities at the next place I could pre cell phone. This was under the advice of my stepdad cop who discussed this at length during my early teen driving lessons even way back during the early 70’s. Later in life I was all too often reminded by stories of crimes on the road as to why he advised against it, a nightmare scenario that has never gone away and sadly still happens often in this day and age.

Last edited 1 year ago by J.R.
Traveler2020 (@guest_186476)
1 year ago

After Christmas in 2020, I was solo, pulling my 30′ fifth wheel down a two-lane highway to Goliad, Texas. Without warning an overheated bearing completely blew my wheel and tire off into the ditch. I was able to go down further and stop on a side road. I called for a tow truck and waited. As I was looking over the damage to my rig, a couple that were behind me brought me my tire that was so hot it had started the ditch on fire. They put it out and called the fire department. They were willing to help me but there was nothing that could be done. I had at least three other cars stop along the side road and offer help. Finally two guys (50+ and 70+) stopped in a jeep and looked over the damage. They called a mechanic friend who came to see what he could do. Those three guys refused to leave me until the tow truck came. ..which took 3 hours! They tried to get the spare on, but couldn’t. Very nice & polite. Most people are willing to help. Assess your surroundings and trust your gut.

Jacki (@guest_186343)
1 year ago

I went on a solo road trip from NY to Cali and back, in late 2021 for 6 weeks and oh the adventures lol. so much fun but got stuck in the snow turning around (Montana) and had to be pulled out of snow by a great couple. Also went down chicken corners trail outside Moab (Utah) and got a flat tire (subara legacy, not a good car for the trail lol) on Christmas Eve and thought I was staying in the canyon until after Christmas but ran into the only car I saw for hours who was a great help thank u Joel! Would do it all over again in a heartbeat!!!! I was completely prepared with food, water and camping equipment just didnt wanna spend Christmas with no reception or having everyone would get worried on Christmas lol

Last edited 1 year ago by Jacki
SDGuy (@guest_186216)
1 year ago

I live in South Dakota, I drive a decently outfitted Jeep Grand Cherokee with a winch. If the weather gets bad and I’m feeling up to dealing with the cold I will head out on those days with the sole intention of pulling stranded people out of the snow. I don’t ask for money but I always come home with at least enough extra to cover my fuel for the day and it feels good to know I have helped sometimes up to 20 people get to where they were going. I don’t tell myself I have saved anyone’s life, I just helped them out when the authorities are overloaded and I have the means to make a difference. Do I run into a few sketchy people, sure I do. Do I run into a few entitled people who express zero gratitude, sure I do. Are the greatest majority of people simply grateful for the help whether they have money to offer or not, that’s a resounding yes. I’m getting a little older so I can’t do it as often as I used to, but I believe being a good person is important and I will continue to do it.

David (@guest_186131)
1 year ago

It’s amazing how many fears about the world are made more tolerable by being armed. I’ve never hesitated to stop to help, mainly because I am always armed when traveling. Changes the whole conversation.

Pancake mechanic (@guest_186219)
1 year ago
Reply to  David

Or you can just not be a big scaredy-cat.

Tom (@guest_186238)
1 year ago


Jay Jay (@guest_186078)
1 year ago

Having been around a few decades longer than most, I can say hitch-hiking was a way for millions to travel all across America, and Europe. It wasn’t uncoming to see women with their thumb out during the 60’s and 70’s. I myself without a doubt, hitched at minimum 20,000 miles, most of that was before turning twenty-one.
There was no Fear in those days. People of all ethnic backgrounds were respectful, mostly honest and of good morals.
I would have a hard time hitching today, not from fear of being maimed or murdered but from the fact that drivers suffer from the fear I just laid out. You could reach your destination on foot before getting a ride these days.
This is a whole different world we live in today, and if your not over the age of 50 you would never understand where we were as a nation before.

Pancake mechanic (@guest_186220)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Jay

I remember!

John Guy (@guest_186860)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Jay

67 and my hope before passing is to see this once great country’s people become We the People”.

UpriverJouce (@guest_187237)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Jay

Way back in the days, I’d carry my backpack and my water-ski and hitch from Seattle to Priest Lake, Idaho and back..
What fun, meeting new folks and girls on the lake with boats and understanding parents..I’ll never forget the fun!

Gerry Matthews (@guest_186063)
1 year ago

I myself have stopped and helped others in need numerous times but it took one incident that changed all that. No matter what your intentions, we live in a very different world today then back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s so it’s best to err on the side of caution especially if you have your family with you.

It’s simple,see someone on the side of the road or if they approach you for help, call the authorities. If you can’t then go out of your way and drive to the nearest police station no matter how far it is and give them the location of the individual.

It takes just one simple little mistake in judgement that could lead to a tragedy so err on the side of caution. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

Larry Williams (@guest_185960)
1 year ago

In the fall of 1970, I was delivering machinery to Syracuse from Philly. There was a young fellow hitching actually ON the PA Turnpike, which is an illegal location. Having spent my share of time on the “thumb express”, I picked him up. His stated destination was the Adirondack state park, where he planned to stay having left home.
Seeing his lack of significant equipment, I offered to pay him to help me with the delivery before he proceeded. Along the way, we discussed the resources he would need for the winter with me laying it on thick about hardships ahead such as bad weather, little available food and loneliness.
After a very cold, windy midnight delivery, I was able to convince him to let me take him back home to his family. Not my first or only road help but the most significant.

Larry Williams (@guest_185962)
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry Williams

Turned out he was only 15. Dropped him off at his home about daybreak.

John Guy (@guest_186862)
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry Williams

You performed a service He wanted. He has a plan for the 15 year old and you helped. Keep the joy in your heart bro.

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry Williams

What a heartwarming story, Larry. Thank you for sharing, and for taking such good care of that young man. Have a good evening. 🙂 –Diane

Kenneth Richner (@guest_185624)
1 year ago

About 15 years ago I was driving a old Pontiac 6000 back across the USA, I was on I80 heading west when my engine just stopped, I was close enough to a exit to drift just off the highway, I didn’t know this exit didn’t lead anywhere, on my Right was nothing but fields and Buffalo the other side I could see a ranch about a mile away. There was nobody around, I looked at my map and was about 50 Miles from Rawlings. There was a gas station a few miles ahead, before I decided to try the ranch or walk to the gas station, a truck flew past my car stoped on the ramp far ahead of me at the bottom of the ramp, I walked on the other side of the Ramp not to startle the trucker just to ask if he could call the state police. When I was able to see him through his window now I was on the other side over 30′ from his truck, he looked and imedatily took off!! Not sure what he was so afraid of I was alone and there was no where for anyone to hide. So I walked to the ranch escortesd by dogs to the door.

J.R. (@guest_187017)
1 year ago

Side note on that Pontiac 6000, rented them in the late 80’s in NYC they were stranding customers all over the place come to find out that the back cigarette lighter was sticking and blowing the fuse, same fuse also powered the fuel pump lol

tom (@guest_185611)
1 year ago

As a young poor soldier ($65 a month), I used to hitch hike often. I would not now a days. However, a soldier in uniform (important part) with a duffle bag can have a lift.
Concealed carry permit and trained (Thanks to Uncle Sam).
Only two wars.

David (@guest_185605)
1 year ago

1981, west Texas, middle of nowhere. Belt on our VW super beetle broke. Almost immediately a guy stops and offers to give us a lift to the next town where we can get a belt. He drove us an hour down the road where I bought the most expensive car belt I have ever bought. The wife and I were wondering how we would get back to our car when the same guy tells us he is ready to take us back. He added 2 hours of driving to his trip to help us. He wouldn’t take any of the money I offerd him. Just said he had the time. I remember that man when I see others needing help and try to act accordingly.

cee (@guest_185593)
1 year ago

My husband & I were headed home after several days camping within 70 mi of home. There was a truck pulled off to the side & a woman started waving her arms. There was a guy standing at the front of the truck with the hood up. The woman said she needed a ride home because their dogs were in the house and then she could call friends to help her husband. Sounded reasonable. She lived in between where we were & where we lived. She got in our truck & within 5 mi I knew she was tweaking on some drug. Her speech was rambling and made little sense but I couldn’t put her out beside the road. Very uncomfortable trip! Dropped her off at her place, she said didn’t have any dogs but didn’t think we would give her a ride. She could have called for help herself because left her phone on our back seat. Lessons learned: We will always stop to help but will take time to assess behavior before offering a ride and if the people seem sketchy, we’ll offer to call the sheriff.

Kate R (@guest_185556)
1 year ago

Summer of 2020, I bought a cargo trailer to tow behind my car. On the way back to camp from the dealership, the car broke down in the middle of nowhere. There was no cell service to call AAA and we were stranded on the side of the road, halfway up the mountain with a dead car and an empty trailer. DH decided to walk the 15 miles back to camp and hope someone might give him a lift. No more than 50 feet up the road, an elderly couple stopped and picked him up and took him the rest of the way up the mountain to camp so he could get our rig and come back for me and trailer (calling AAA for the car once he got back to cell service.) Smack in the middle of the first big Covid wave, he didn’t expect anyone to give him a lift. Good folks do still exist.

Interestingly, I was admonished recently by a female friend for giving a female hitchhiker a ride. I just felt so sad that’s what this world of fear has come to. When I picked the woman up, I could easily see myself in her shoes.

Ham Radio (@guest_185553)
1 year ago

We would call local authorities and have them effect the assistance. They have the equipment and training. The red flag would be when you inform the “victim” that cops are coming he suddenly gets sketchy and doesn’t want them, maybe due to a warrant or it would mess up his set-up for a crime. Let the professionals handle it.

Kurt Belyeu (@guest_185583)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ham Radio

Wow.. aren’t you a nice person. This person had no money, the professionals would have called a tow truck to pull the guy out then impound his vehicle. That’s really going to make his day. anyway.. have a nice day.

Left Coast Geek (@guest_185606)
1 year ago
Reply to  Kurt Belyeu

and extra fun, most tow trucks will not even venture onto a graded dirt road, so you’re looking at Off Road Recovery services, which are only available in some specific areas.

Pancake mechanic (@guest_186221)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ham Radio

Send everyone poor to jail! If they don’t have triple a, call the cops! That’s what they are there for! (S)

Paul B. (@guest_185548)
1 year ago

I knew this story would have a happy ending because Tim Slack was still alive to share it with us. 😀😀😀

Gaines B (@guest_185543)
1 year ago

I was camped overlooking the Tetons, and a young couple walked into my camp. They said they were down the road and were camped off into a field, and now their car would not start. I was in a class C and had to drive off the road for probably 100 yards to get to them. I was concerned I was going to sink in the grass of the meadow and not be able to get out myself. For some reason it never occurred to me they may have bad intentions. I guess I just got a good vibe and went on that. We did get the car started, and were both able to get out of the field. As always it was a great feeling to help to help someone.

Kurt Belyeu (@guest_185584)
1 year ago
Reply to  Gaines B

Good human!

Alex (@guest_185533)
1 year ago

In 1970, driving to Fort Lewis, WA, I stopped at a rest area on I-5 on an uphill grade near Mt. Shasta. Noticed a VW bus with a guy doing a walk around, scratching his head. He said he was in 3rd gear, heard a bang, lost power and saw smoke behind the bus. I knew he’d burned the exhaust valve on #3 cylinder. They, unhappy wife with infant, were on the way to explore Alaska on a 30 day leave from Navy service. We went into nearby woods found some flat rocks and stout branches. Pulled the engine onto the branches and then lowered it to ground by removing the rocks one by one. We found a retired VW mechanic who lived nearby. The mechanic said he’d replace broken parts, adjust valves and reinstall the engine at the rest area for $80. I went on my way shortly thereafter but always wondered whether they ever got to Alaska, RV’d later in life or fulfilled their promise to thank me by “passing it on.”

Richard Hall (@guest_185532)
1 year ago

I have always helped stangers and it has always felt good. Never once a bad experience. Life is too short to live in fear.

Pancake mechanic (@guest_186222)
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Hall

It’s so easy to tell if tweakers or thieves are lying. Life is too short to live in fear (x2)

Joseph Phebus (@guest_185519)
1 year ago

Tom, thank you for your heartwarming story. I don’t know why these type stories always seem to devolve into cautionary tales on why one needs to carry a firearm, or the folly, naivete, or stupidity of those of us who choose not to.

For what it’s worth, I see wisdom in the New Testament admonition, “Those that live by the sword will die by the sword.” So, I’ll take my chances knowing that statistically, if I stay aware and don’t break the law, my chances of dying a violent death are by a many degrees lesser than other means, particularly in the outdoors. Of course, given the proliferation of fear and firearms the chances are probably higher here in the USA than virtually anywhere else in the free world, but they are still very low.

I don’t want to walk around armed, because I prefer to walk around open -armed. Fairly or unfairly, guns make me uncomfortable and I don’t want to have the same effect and cheat myself out of opportunities to engage and meet new friends.

Tim Slack (@guest_185494)
1 year ago

Of the many thoughts that flowed through my head as I opened my tent, over it all was my consideration that if this man had had a nefarious motive he wouldn’t have waited for me to wake up and come outside. I do have handguns, am familiar with several defensive arts, and saw no overwhelming reason NOT to give my assistance to someone in need. I remained very alert throughout the trip back to his truck, ready to disarm him or otherwise defend myself. What I hadn’t mentioned in the story is this happened in the mid-70’s. The proliferation of firearms in this country since then, like in NO OTHER COUNTRY in the world, is a self-fulfilling disaster, leading us directly to the ‘armed encampment’ mentality. So many people feel they must go strapped, must shoot first “to be safe,” that NODODY’S safe. Recall, however, even some of the wildest western towns required firearms surrender to enter.

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