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Good Samaritan works for smiles

The weather outside was getting angry, dark heavy-laden clouds filed the sky. A decent snow was starting to blanket Medford and the rest of the valley.

I knew the roads were going to be an issue, so I left early, driving 20 mph all the way to the airport. My wife, Kerry’s, plane was due to arrive shortly after 3 p.m. I gave myself 45 minutes for the drive, not knowing what road hazards I might encounter along the way.

As I parked curbside I kept one eye on the baggage claim exit and my other eye focused on the snowstorm that was now in full force all around me. Being from Montreal, I have a lot of experience navigating snowy streets with little to no visibility. As I contemplated my situation, I got a text message from Kerry informing me that they just landed ... in Eugene.

I didn’t realize Medford had to shut down the airport due to severe weather. All inbound flights were diverted elsewhere. Kerry and her fellow passengers would spend the night in Eugene, and a caravan of buses would drop them off at the Medford airport the following day.

I now faced a stormy drive home alone. It was a long, slow drive, my knuckles were as white as the snow that was trying to engulf me.

My street has a slight hill going up toward my house, a grade one would normally not consider an issue, unless the snow was deep and the asphalt icy. My road was covered in deep snow and icy asphalt. I took a run at it only to find myself sliding toward the ditch on the side of the road. I stopped in time, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t gain any distance up my street. I did have control when reversing, so I made a number of attempts to back down to the bottom of the hill to take another run, without success.

Suddenly, in my rearview mirror, I saw a 4x4 pickup, sitting, watching, waiting. I was now stuck in the middle of the street and wasn’t going anywhere. The driver of the truck got out and approached my window. He looked in at me, saw my tremor from my Parkinson’s, and with genuine concern asked, “Are you OK?”

In his hands he held a tow strap, and once I pointed out my house up ahead, he latched on to my minivan and with ease he pulled me up the road, sliding me into a safe, out-of-the-way parking spot in front of my house.

I jumped out of my minivan to thank him. He already had his tow strap secured in the bed of his truck as he approached me to ensure all was OK with me and my parking spot. I took his hand and praised him for his kindness, generosity and compassion. I was blessed to have him arrive when he did.

He told me that he likes to drive around when it gets stormy, seeking stranded drivers like me. His reward was the smiles on the faces of those he rescued. I had a broad smile on my face.

As he got in his pickup and drove off, we acknowledged each other with a wave and a smile.

There goes a good Samaritan, I pondered. Or was he an angel?

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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