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Stopping to help the stranger

Aug. 9

Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
— Tecumseh

It is a tradition and expectation in the north of Canada that motorists always stop to help another people with a disabled vehicle. Jane and I have been beneficiaries of that tradition this summer.

In preparing for this trip, we bought a Subaru Outback, a vehicle that combines good gas mileage with comfort and the ruggedness needed for rough roads. We anticipate driving at least 17,000 miles on this trip, and we’ve already driven some 2,500 of them on remote unpaved roads.

Most traverse these remote roads with pickup trucks, and we hoped that the Subaru was up to the task. And it generally was. Once in the Yukon, the Subaru was disabled due to broken wheel bolts and once, on the relatively remote Cassiar Highway, we feared the car would be disabled by one of the worst ongoing squeals I have ever heard coming from our front wheel.

When our car was disabled in the Yukon, the first two cars that passed by stopped for us. The first car contained two young women, who tried to help with their industrial-sized tire iron, the second giving us a ride into town to make arrangements with a towing company.

The problem with our terribly noisy wheel — which sounded like a loud, off-key symphony — was diagnosed by a flagman, who walked back to our car and asked us if we were having mechanical problems. It was a rock caught in the brake system. It was fixed by another construction worker who got under the car to adjust the brake to release the rock. We were so appreciative!

We see this tradition of helping each other at Augustana. Students are fiercely loyal to their friends and will almost always go the extra mile to help them. Those working at Augustana go the extra mile both for students and for colleagues.

May we extend that generosity to those outside our immediate circle. Just as we need students to help fellow students who are outside their social circle, we need faculty, administrators and staff to go the extra mile for their fellow employees, even when they are from departments on the other side of campus. We see many examples of this generosity already at Augustana. May we continue to build on this Augustana tradition.

(See also Jane Bahls’ Arctic Adventures blog).

One Response to “Stopping to help the stranger”

  1. Again, your reflection is right on. You have been treated as you treat others. If you came upon a car/person in need, you would help them. That is the way of rural civilization. You have just completed A Call To Action where so many people heeded Augustana’s need.

    Nancy and I will miss reading your blogs upon your return.

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