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Readers share their stories: Should you trust a stranger?

Trust a stranger? It seems that many of our Good Samaritan readers do! Last week we published a story about trusting strangers by one of our readers, Tim Slack. We had so many responses with so many heartwarming stories of helping and being helped that I decided to publish some of them this week.

The comments also brought up messages of fear, guns, arming and safety. I am first to acknowledge that we live in a world fraught with hate, mayhem, violence, chaos, distrust and mass murders. These stories help remind me of the kinder, giving side of humanity and particularly those of our wonderful RVtravel.com friends.

So please, give the fear, guns, and rhetoric a break for a moment. Just read and be touched by the selfless acts of others, whether you agree with their method of kindness or not.

Reader stories: Should you trust a stranger?

“Being a good person is important”

SD Guy wrote to us about intentionally looking for people to help.

“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. 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. I believe being a good person is important and I will continue to do it.”

“Go home”

Larry W. helped convince this 15-year-old to go home to his family.

“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 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. I was 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.”

Pay it forward

David wrote to us about when he and his wife were helped.

“1981, west Texas, middle of nowhere. The 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 two hours of driving to his trip to help us. He wouldn’t take any of the money I offered him. Just said he had the time. I remember that man when I see others needing help and try to act accordingly.”

Help during Covid

Kate tells us about a couple that drove her stranded husband back up the mountain.

“In the 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.

“My husband 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 the 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.”

A good vibe is a good sign

Gaines B. got a good vibe and just went with it.

“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 that they may have had 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 someone.”

Above and beyond

Alex wonders if the young couple he helped made it to Alaska and had “passed it on.”

“In 1970, driving to Fort Lewis, WA, I stopped at a rest area on I-5 on an uphill grade near Mt. Shasta. I 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 the #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 and found some flat rocks and stout branches. We pulled the engine onto the branches and then lowered it to the ground by removing the rocks one by one. Then 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, RVed later in life, or fulfilled their promise to thank me by ‘passing it on.'”

While we know there will always be times to stay safe, not help, not approach and drive away, these people decided to trust a stranger. And we’re so glad they did.

##RVT1056

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Lisa Adcox
18 days ago

Two years ago we were workamping in TX and a young couple with a baby came into park to Tent camp for the weekend. It was up in the 80s to 90s all weekend. So the first night they had a hot baby and not much sleep. So we offered them our big fan that would hopefully help. Then my husband went fishing on river and I had the young girl come to our RV to take a break where it was cool. The baby napped on my couch. This couple was 18 and 19 years old. They thanked us plus gave us their phone number. I have heard from them a couple times. We were just glad to help.

B N S
19 days ago

In todays world, Trust no one and question Authority as well..

Emily
19 days ago

My RV transmission went out last year between St George, UT and Las Vegas, and it couldn’t be seen anywhere for two weeks. I was on federal land so decided I would just stay there instead of paying for a hotel and trying to find a place to park my disabled vehicle in a city. I was kind of scared at not having a way to drive out if something happened, but I met so many amazing people who brought me food and water, kept me company, and offered various ways to help – it literally brought me to tears multiple times. Changed my perception of humanity!!!

Barry A Thomas
19 days ago

Great stories, should be one or two in every issue !

Drew
20 days ago

I looked at a thread yesterday on irv2. A man was stranded on an interstate along with everyone else when construction work was being done. A man and his kids approached the rv and asked the driver if they could use his bathroom. Of around 20 responses (probably more by now) opinions were split. I believe in helping out but in this case considering all the violence and unpredictable happenings I wouldn’t have let them in.

Billinois
19 days ago
Reply to  Drew

I commented on that post on irv2. I contend that if the guy and and his kids are stranded same as you, are they really going to cause you harm?
The level of fear in this country is so overstated. We all need to take a step back and remember we’re all human. And turn off the “news”!

Magee
17 days ago
Reply to  Billinois

I didn’t see the post but tend to think like you. I generally do trust people, maybe not as much today as in the ’70s, ’80, early 90s. I often during that time picked up hitchhikers and generally gave them a few bucks with the suggestion to pass it on when they were in a position to do so. I guess I was fortunate, but never anything bad or even unpleasant happened.

Last edited 17 days ago by Magee
Traveler
20 days ago

The important part was “passing it on”.
When young neighbors are surprised by us offering equipment loans or an unasked for driveway plow, I always remember Cliff coming by at just the right time with the loan of a tractor, advice and even a car.

Leonard Rempel
20 days ago

Pulled an engine out in a rest area?

Tom B
20 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

My brother used to be a mechanic. I saw him drop an engine out of a VW bus, pull the heads, cylinders and pistons to upgrade it, and put the engine back in. From pulling it in the garage to starting it up and backing out was 45 MINUTES! That’s what skill, knowledge and experience can do.

Last edited 20 days ago by Tom B
Alex
20 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

On air cooled VWs Only 4 bolts attaching the engine to the transmission. You have to disconnect a few cables but that’s all that’s required to remove the engine. A jack makes it easy but same can be accomplished with flat rocks and sticks.

Tommy Molnar
20 days ago

On a trip out of Death Valley with our old pickup, the tranny (which had a penchant for overheating) was getting to the “red” zone on my temp gauge. We were climbing a steep hill so before trouble happened, I pulled over and popped the hood. I knew the only way to cool a tranny was to stop. Within minutes the first person stopped to ask if we needed help. In the half-hour we sat there, no less than five people stopped to see if we needed help. I was pleasantly surprised. Once we got going again, it turns out we were only about a block from the summit and would have been fine – but who knew . . .

Magee
17 days ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Most people are good. My husband and I, who I didn’t think looked that OLD, had a flat tire on I-70 one day several (quite a few) years ago. An old, not so reliable looking car with 4 or 5 not so prepossessing looking young men stopped to help. When they finished, I offered one of them a $20 – he turned it down and said my husband had already paid them. These good people who probably had less than us stopped to help with no expectations.

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