By Toby Moore
For Capital Region Independent Media
I spent the New Year celebrating with my girlfriend in a beautiful, small, old town in northwestern Illinois named Galena. We had a wonderful time.
Our dinner reservations were at the very historic Desoto Hotel, and to our surprise, nobody was there! People celebrated in the hotel outside of the restaurant, but the restaurant itself was empty.
I asked the waitress, “Where is everybody?” and she responded, “A big winter storm is coming!”
After dinner, we walked down Main Street and commented on how calm the weather was. There wasn’t a storm.
New Year’s Day was sunny and cold. The weather was nice, so we decided to stay longer and visit some shops we hadn’t seen. By mid-afternoon, the clouds rolled in, accompanied by heavy snowfall.
One of the locals cautioned us from driving home. We thanked her and explained how we had to get back home and go through the blizzard.
I felt confident; I’d driven through many snowstorms all over the nation. I figured we could make it home in seven hours, moving slow.
From the start, many times, I almost went off the road. Carefully I pressed forward; every mile seemed to be more dangerous than the last. I said to myself, “They will put salt on the roads; there will be snowplows…” But I saw no sign of a snowplow.
Suddenly I felt the car being pulled to the right. I turned to the left to steer the vehicle back on course, but I drove into a ditch 4-6 feet deep. The snow piled so high in the ditch it appeared even with the road and looked as if there was no ditch at all. Within a couple of seconds, my car was deep in a pile of snow.
My girlfriend was understandably upset.
“It’s no big deal!” I reassured her as I called AAA roadside assistance.
To our surprise, the weather was so bad they shut down service for this part of the country; nobody was coming to save us.
The roads were empty. We were in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the heavy snow on a dark winter’s night.
It’s been such a mild winter this year I didn’t bring the proper clothes with me. I didn’t have a pair of gloves, a winter jacket, a stocking cap, let alone a shovel. It was about 17 degrees and there wasn’t much I could do. I tried to calm my panicked girlfriend.
About 30 minutes later, we noticed a light in the distance. The light became brighter and brighter, and it turned out to be a big white pickup truck. The driver slowly pulled up and shouted, “Do you need help?”
My girlfriend noticed I was playing it cool, so before I could answer, she was yelling, “Yes! help us please!”
After about 15 minutes of shoveling and clearing snow out from under my car, he found where he could hook a chain and try to pull us out. Within 30 seconds, my car was pulled right out of the snow and back on the road.
My girlfriend jumped out of the car and we both thanked him profusely. I didn’t have any cash on me; all I had was a bottle of wine left over from the New Year’s celebration. I insisted he take it. We also offered to send him cash through an online app, but he refused. He helped us simply because we needed help.
As we drove home, my girlfriend cried tears of joy. We were blown away by his kind nature and how willing he was to help. We talked about it the whole way home.
Last week I wrote about how one of my New Year’s resolutions was to help people more. This man who helped us left a significant impact on me. People need help sometimes. It meant so much to us that he took the time to help while his family waited patiently in the car. I want to say thank you again, kind stranger.
Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.