Our savior wore a brown canvas snowsuit with a tightly drawn hoodie underneath. He wore yellow gloves made for handling twine, construction boots and questionable sunglasses. He wore closely cropped red hair, a stubble red beard, appeared something of a ginger Jake Gyllenhaal. He drove a new red Chevy truck. He had chains.
Beth and I were returning from her parents’ home on a four-hour drive across rural America. We’d just crossed into Western Minnesota when our puppy made it clear she needed to go — immediately. So, I pulled off onto a country road, drove a hundred feet and came to a stop. I let Olive out to do her thing and we were back in the car. Instead of driving onward to find an intersection or trying a three-point turn so we could double back, I tried a U-turn.
The ditches were filled with snow, so they appeared level with the road. Mid-U-turn, the front of the car bobbed downward and the front tires quickly sank into the powdery snow. I must’ve driven a thousand country roads growing up in South Dakota, yet here we were, stuck in a ditch on a completely calm winter day.
I hopelessly attempted to shovel the car’s front wheels out, praying they might catch. Our phones were without service, but we knew we were at Highway 212 and 221st Street in Lac qui Parle County. It was warm enough to walk a few miles for help.
Before we grew desperate, our savior arrived. He coolly grabbed a stretch of chain from his truck and began looping it through the undercarriage of our car. He worked silently and he worked without judgment. He ordered me to get into the car and put it in reverse as he pulled, and moments later, we were free. Stuck and unstuck in a span of 10 minutes, all thanks to this kind stranger.
I reached for a handshake, though with his hand was coated in snow, dirt and rust, he bashfully declined. I took his hand and shook, anyway. He hopped in his truck and took off, showing no sign of self-satisfaction. It was as if he’d spent the day pulling cars out of ditches just for the good of it.
Strangers help strangers everywhere every day in many ways, so I won’t start in on that Minnesota Nice bourgeois. Our savior was just a single example of why humanity can be so great. If he hadn’t been there to help us, he may have been elsewhere helping someone else. Someone else may have come along and helped us. Regardless, I’m confident we wouldn’t have been stuck in that ditch for long.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most urgent question is what are you doing for others?” For our savior, the answer would’ve come together in short order. I think that’s important, to know how your deliberate actions positively impact others. Help whenever you can, however you can. You might just be someone else’s savior.