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Somebody still stops to help

It was our very first opportunity to see the Twins play at Target Field in Minneapolis. At least it was for my son-in-law, Stevie Wonder, and me. But Ryan and Christian, Stevie's sons and my grandsons, had been there before. With the Twins trailing the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th with two runners on base and Michael Cuddyer at the plate, the entire crowd was on its feet, hoping for a rare victory. Cuddyear connected and sent the ball deep to left center field. But not deep enough. It was hauled in at the warning track and the game was over. Another loss.

We grabbed a bite to eat, left Ryan in Minneapolis for his job and Stevie, Christian and I hit the road for home -- 200 miles of Sunday evening traffic. Just outside of Rogers on Interstate 94, Stevie hit a chunk of rubber on the highway, probably thrown off by a truck tire. We all heard the thump. Just as we passed an exit ramp the dashboard light indicated a tire pressure problem. Almost immediately, the right rear tire started bump, bump, bumping. By the time we stopped, we were just past an exit ramp where cars from the ramp were merging with cars on the freeway. Not a good place to be. In seconds the tire was flat, with a hole punctured on the side. There must have been some metal in that chunk of rubber that we hit.

This was the first flat tire on Stevie's car, so we got out the tire jack and changing tools. The tire nuts were "theft proof" and a protective cap on each of them had to be removed by a special hook. Then another special tool to start the loosening process was missing, so the short tire wrench would not budge the nuts at all. We couldn't get the flat tire off. We had to call for roadside service. As we waited, the cars and trucks were roaring past us on the freeway. We were not in a comfortable spot, but we still had daylight.

An older car slowed down, pulled ahead of us and stopped. A short, dark, middle-aged guy got out, came back and checked our tire. We explained that our tools wouldn't take the nuts off but that we had called for assistance. He waved our explanation away as though it didn't matter. Then he went back into his trunk and brought a heavy duty x-shaped tire iron and put it on the nuts. He stepped on one arm of the iron while I lifted on the opposite arm and we managed to budge the nuts.

But the car was too far over on the soft part of the shoulder. He looked at where we were parked then he spoke. It was clear from his accent that he was a Mexican. He took charge. He directed Stevie to move the car closer to the pavement for a more solid footing under the jack.

After the car was moved, he went back to his car to get a piece of 2 x 6 wood block to put under the jack. Then as we jacked the car up, he resisted assistance by me. This guy was on a mission, working hard and fast and he preferred to work alone. There is a good chance he felt there wasn't much skill in our crowd. He finished the job in just a few minutes and the road service arrived just as he was finishing. The road service driver couldn't believe somebody had stopped to help us. He said nobody stops to help on the freeway.

Our volunteer had picked up his tire iron and block of wood and was about to leave. It was clear he expected nothing. I caught him, shook his hand, thanked him, gave him a token of our appreciation, told him he was a Good Samaritan and he was gone. The road service guy did not charge us for taking the call, coming to the scene and preparing to help.

Two things about this story are certain. The first is that there are good people out there and we met two of them. The guy who took care of our tire was truly a Good Samaritan. God Bless him. The second is that Stevie and I are in debt and must pass what was done for us along to some other distressed motorist along the road. Gratitude is more than a handshake, a thank you and a token of appreciation.