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Vocal Point: Kindness of passerby welcome on hot day

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We were driving by the mighty Columbia River admiring the majestic pine trees surrounding the picturesque view. The cut hay was drying in the fields, and the cattle were chewing their cud. All was right with the world.

We had left a Fourth of July celebration to get home to Spokane early for the arrival of our Marine grandson returning from his second tour in Afghanistan.

We noticed the air conditioning in the pickup was straining to keep the cab cool. I turned down the passenger side window to get some fresh air, and soon everything started to shut down. We looked for a wide spot at the side of the road and pulled over.

After calling AAA from our cellphone on which the battery was dying, we waited in the 90-degree heat. I decided to walk to the first farm house – right past the “No Trespassing” sign on the gate and knocked on the door. Nothing.

On my way back to the truck I saw a white car pull over. My husband, Ray, borrowed the rescuer’s cellphone and made another call to AAA, which had not responded to the first call, because the company couldn’t confirm. This time AAA confirmed and someone would be there in 90 minutes. In the meantime we decided I would let this complete stranger drive me home, so I could get our air-conditioned car while we waited.

I’m not in the habit of taking off with strangers. My husband looked a little dazzled. I did memorize the license plate number. I had seen enough “NCIS” shows to know that. Our Good Samaritan had a Bible on the dashboard which gave me some consolation. I asked him if he was a guardian angel. He assured me he was just on his way to Wal-Mart, and it looked like we needed help.

I offered him money for his gas and time, but he refused. He just asked that I call him at home or on his cell later. He said he was concerned about “you kids” and wanted to make sure everything was all right. When you are a seasoned citizen and someone calls you “kids,” that can make your day.

Soon after I arrived back at the truck, our knight in shining armor drove up in Gene’s Tow Truck service from Old Town, Idaho. At least he wasn’t driving a Chevrolet. That would humiliate my Ford aficionado husband. The tow truck was an International with 650,000 miles, on its third engine and rusty.

I’ve relearned some lessons:

• Glow plug relay can short out on a diesel – even on a Ford.

• Keep your cellphone charged.

• You can’t judge a book by its cover.

• In everything give thanks.

I remember George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” being rescued by his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody. My guardian angel was Len from Loon Lake on his way to Wal-Mart.

And yes, I did call to let him know “the kids” were all right. Somehow I think he knew that.

Ray and Donna Kuhn have been married for 52 years. You can email Donna Kuhn at