Samaritan in a Truck


A modern-day Samaritan ministers with a pickup, a jack, and a question

Michelle and Julie were getting worried. Their adventure had begun just as they’d planned—leave campus right after Julie’s last class and take turns driving her sports car home where they would surprise Michelle’s brother on his birthday. But now it was 1:00 A.M. and they were stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. Few cars were passing (and who knew how safe they would be if someone did stop), and to top it off, they couldn’t figure out how to work their jack.

Michelle prayed, but they still couldn’t get the jack to work. Soon after, however, a truck pulled alongside and the girls held their breath as the man inside asked, “Need some help?”

Both girls started at once, “Yes, we do! Our jack won’t work and we have a flat tire.” The man didn’t reply but backed his truck behind them, his headlights lighting up the offending tire.

“The tire was awfully hot. Have we been driving too fast?” asked Julie.

“Can you figure out how to use this jack?” Michelle inquired.

The man was dressed in jeans, old cowboy boots, and a western shirt. He seemed unhappy and a bit gruff. “Probably a farmer from near here,” thought Michelle. He put a hand on the flat tire, then removed it quickly because it was still hot. He nodded in response to their questions, then walked around the little car touching the other tires.

“When a tire gets soft, it gets hot. The other tires are okay, though, so if you have a spare, you’ll soon be on your way,” he told them.

The girls had the spare out already. Michelle handed him the jack. “We can’t figure out how this thing works; it’s supposed to be the newest thing.”

The man illuminated the jack in the headlights, puzzled with it for a moment, then abruptly put it down and headed for his own truck.

“I’ll get my jack,” he called.

The two girls chattered in relief as he put his jack under the car and started to jack it up. They talked about school, how they were going to surprise Michelle’s brother, and how much farther they had to drive. The man grunted occasionally, listening but not saying much.

After they quieted down, they asked him where he was going so late at night. He grinned, “You know, I almost didn’t stop to help you because I’ve got to drive another 200 miles tonight to pick up five Boy Scouts and their driver. Their car broke down on their way to our campout.”

Finally the job was done; the man tightened the nuts on the spare tire and stood up, brushing his hands. “There, you’re all set.”

Both girls thanked him repeatedly. The man was silent, hesitated a moment, and then drew a deep breath. Finally he spoke: “If a pair of Mormon missionaries knock on your door someday, would you listen to them for me?”

Michelle squealed. “Are you a Mormon, too? So am I!”

“Well, I guess now I know what made me stop. God bless you and have a good trip.” He shook their hands, got in the truck, and was soon gone.

“I’ll drive,” said Julie as she headed for the driver’s seat.

“Fine,” said Michelle. As she got in on her side, she took a deep breath, then slowly began: “Julie, have you ever wanted to know anything about the Mormon church?”

[illustration] Illustrated by Parry Merkley