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.”
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.