“Maybe I Can Help,” Ensign, July 1989, 54–55
Years ago I was one of thirty zoology students from Brigham Young University on a field expedition to Arches National Park. We left our textbooks behind and on a clear October morning boarded a rumbling old bus.
After two exciting days of climbing among the arches and rocks, we packed our gear, stowed it on the bus, and headed for Provo. After reaching the main highway, we stopped for gas at the only station in sight—an old, run-down structure. Beyond the station, as far as I could see, were brown scrubgrass, tumbleweeds, and sand.
With gas tanks filled, the bus pulled away from the station, went about fifty yards, then sputtered to a stop. Bill, the driver, turned the key. The engine started momentarily and then failed. Over and over he tried in vain to start the bus. But it soon became evident that it was not going to start again. Our professor, Dr. Joseph Murphy, and Bill clambered out of the bus and began checking under the hood.
Meanwhile, a red pickup truck with a forty-foot trailer pulled up to the gas pump. A middle-aged man with a cigarette in his hand climbed out of the truck and filled it with gas. Instead of going on his way, he sauntered over to our bus. As I eyed his dirty blue jeans and tattered white shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled inside the sleeve, I thought how his appearance could easily lead some to consider him crude and rough.
“Having trouble, I see,” he remarked to Dr. Murphy.
“We sure are.”
“Maybe I can help,” answered the stranger. “What seems to be the problem?”
Before long, it became obvious that this man had more knowledge about the mechanics of a bus than anyone else in the group. It also became apparent that he had more than just a passing curiosity in our predicament. As one hour rolled into the next, he continued to work on the problem. It didn’t seem to matter to him that he had been on his way somewhere; he was determined to fix our bus. At one point he even pushed our bus with his pickup truck, the forty-foot trailer still hitched behind.
After four hours, he walked over to the pop machine and bought himself a drink. Then he called everyone else over. One by one, he dropped his coins into the machine as each of us made our selection. Then, without a word he turned and walked to his truck, climbed in and drove off. None of us could believe he would leave without even receiving a thank you. Unbeknownst to us, he was going for a carburetor part.
Dr. Murphy telephoned the Brigham Young University transportation services shop, and one of the mechanics gave him suggestions on how to adjust the carburetor. Later, as I sat on the steps of the station watching him and Bill work, the phone in the booth next to me began to ring. I picked up the receiver and, to my surprise, it was our friend who had driven away so hastily.
“I’m in Moab looking for a part,” he said. “I’ll call back in thirty minutes.”
The news spread quickly through the group, but a short time later someone shouted, “The bus is fixed.” Cheers flew up from all around. Finally, it was time to go home.
We boarded the bus, excited to be on our way. Dr. Murphy climbed aboard and stood at the front. “It will be fifteen minutes before our friend calls back. I think we should take a vote. Should we go or stay and wait for his phone call?”
In a loud chorus we voiced our decision, “Stay!”
As we waited in the darkened bus, there was no loud chattering or excitement. Instead, quiet prevailed as each of us seemed to be sharing reverent wonder at this man’s concern for our welfare. Just then, the service station owner came running over.
“Your friend just called. He was unable to locate the part. I let him know the bus was fixed. He said to tell you ‘Good luck.’”
As we drove home in the dark, I reflected on the past six hours. I wondered if I would have done the same thing in a similar situation. My thoughts went to the scriptures. “A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” (Luke 10:33.) Could I live up to this example of a modern-day Good Samaritan? I hoped I could.