Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Man relearns a valuable lesson as an odd assortment of good samaritans lends a helping hand.

Las Vegas Sign

This story of unexpected good samaritans teaches us not to judge a book by its cover.

iStockphoto.com/Rick Rhay

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They didn’t look like angels. They looked like a band of misfits made up of human beings left over from the hippie days of the 1960s and ’70s.

The driver of the battered old station wagon was a young man with long, lanky blond hair and a wispy black goatee (clearly dyed). Beside him was a young woman with long, lanky blond hair. In the back seat was a dowdy-looking white woman in a Mother Hubbard dress. Beside her was a big African American man, with a bushy white beard and a shaved head.

I offered up a short prayer that they wouldn’t stop.

I’d been standing in the hot southern Utah sun for an hour trying to “thumb” a ride. My car had broken down, and I needed to get to the nearest town, Las Vegas, and find a Chevrolet garage. My wife, Edna, was trying to keep cool in the car.

The station wagon pulled in behind my car and stopped. The young man hopped out with a grin and said, “Car trouble, mister?”

“Engine froze up on me,” I said. “I need to get to town and get a wrecker out here. How far is Las Vegas?”

“Half an hour,” he replied. “Get in. We’ll take you. Take your wife, too. She shouldn’t stay here alone.”

Edna squeezed in front, I squeezed in back. The younger man and woman were married, as was the couple in back. They lived in St. George, which we’d passed a while back, and were taking the older man to the airport in Las Vegas.

They took us first to a casino hotel, “the cheapest nice place for you to stay.” They waited while we registered, then took us to the Chevy garage and waited while we made the arrangements to have the car picked up. Then they took us back to our hotel.

The younger man then said, “We’ve got to get Jim to the airport, but we’ll be back in an hour or so to make sure everything is OK with you.” And they did.

After they had driven off, I looked at Edna and said, “I actually prayed that they wouldn’t stop!”

“How many times have I heard you quote that old cliché that says not to judge a book by its cover?” Edna reminded me.

So I relearned a lesson that I’d learned long ago. I didn’t think it then, but I’ve thought it many times since: Angels come in so many different shapes, sizes and colors that you can’t pick them out of a crowd until they surprise you and make you a believer.


GRIT salutes people who do the right thing!

Share your stories of Good Samaritans, helping hands, paying it forward, and other altruistic deeds — whether you were on the receiving end or you remember the great feeling of doing the right thing. Email your 300- to 500-word article to Editor in Chief Hank Will, and we may publish it in a future issue of GRIT. Mail articles to The Right Thing, GRIT Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. The Good Samaritan involved in each printed article, if known, will receive a five-year subscription to GRIT.