Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Samaritans make good neighbors

I’ve been at OOIDA for over three years, and in that time I’ve seen some heartbreaking stories. One of the most heartbreaking was the story of Randy Jay Tomblin, a truck driver from Flatwoods, KY.

Randy first appeared in the pages of Land Line Magazine in 1999 because of an incident that happened at a truck stop the day his son died. I won’t go into the full details, but Randy got an emergency call from his wife on the road and when he went to the truck stop to try and call her back to find out what happened, the folks at the truck stop were less than accommodating.

But that was just the beginning of Randy’s troubles.

In 2006, Randy stopped to help what appeared to be a stranded motorist alongside the highway. He was rewarded for his good deed with a knock on the head, a gunshot wound to the back and an empty wallet.

All of that was bad enough, but it was what Randy said in an interview after the incident that really broke my heart. He said his days of helping others were over.

I can’t really blame Randy for having that sentiment. What breaks my heart is that we live in a society where that sentiment is even necessary. That we are so afraid for our lives that we can’t bring ourselves to help others in need.

Too many stories like that tend to make for jaded, bitter journalists, and jaded, bitter truck drivers.

Thankfully, there are other stories that come along and balance everything out. The kind of stories that make you think, OK, maybe the world isn’t doomed after all. The kind of stories that give you hope.

The story of Dave Marsden and Bob Griffith is one of those stories. In case you missed the recent broadcast, Bob is a truck driver who is struggling just to get by. He told an Associated Press reporter that he couldn’t even afford to buy a prom dress for his daughter.

Dave is a retired truck mechanic and Navy veteran who read Bob’s story and couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. So he called Bob up and offered to pay for his daughter’s prom dress.

When I first read the story, I knew I had to talk to these guys and I’m glad I did. Dave Marsden reminded me that there are good people left out there. They may be hard to find, but they are there.

You see, what Dave did for Bob wasn’t just a one-time thing. It’s the way Dave lives his life. If he sees someone who needs help, he helps them out as much as he can. It’s that simple. He doesn’t question it. He doesn’t think about it. He just does it. It’s as natural to him as breathing.

And that, my friends, is a breath of fresh air.