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Irons in the fire: The rogue Samaritan

Paul Marchant Published on 24 December 2013

My sister’s husband, Bart, is as salt-of-the-earth as they come. He’s not happy unless he’s helping someone, and he’s always happy. Ergo, he is always helping somebody.

I’ve found myself on the receiving end of his big heart on many occasions. He’s always been a farmer, but he’s always in a good mood. How’s that for an oxymoron? He’s milked cows, grown sugar beets, potatoes and beans.

He’s raised hay, brokered hay, driven truck and raised dairy heifers. He’s even fed cattle and sold hay to horse people, and still he maintains his cheerful demeanor. If I ever grow up, I want to be like Bart.

Every once in a while, I follow his example and try my hand at the good Samaritan thing.

A couple of years ago, the Idaho Beef Council sponsored a two-day conference in the state’s capital, aimed at educating beef producers and industry leaders on the ins and outs of educating and informing the public about where and how beef is produced and the health benefits of including beef as part of a healthy diet.

The culmination of the event was a beef industry-sponsored Boise State football game preceded by a tailgate party where participants, myself included, served beef and chili to fans and learned how to be competent ambassadors of the industry.

Although a good share of the participants had to swallow their pride because of their allegiance to Idaho’s land-grant university, the University of Idaho, there was no arguing the benefits to the industry of interacting with the largest gathering of people in the state that weekend.

After the game, I had a three-plus-hour drive ahead of me before I got home, so I was fairly anxious to get on the road.

Not being overly comfortable with my ability to navigate in the post-game Boise traffic, I had parked my pickup a few blocks from the stadium and planned a carefully laid-out escape route from the city.

All was going well until I pulled through a busy intersection, and traffic slowed down to a near-standstill.

Two or three car lengths ahead of me, I could see a big old four-door Chrysler stopped in the middle of the road surrounded by a small, hapless-looking amalgamation of rather colorful people. They were trying to push the car up the slight incline in the road and into a nearby parking lot.

They weren’t getting a lot of love from the other drivers on the road, so when I pulled around them, I stopped and backed up and offered them the services of my Dodge and my chain.

The apparent patriarch of the odd little group was effusive in his praise of cowboys and country folk as I drove him around the block to fetch a couple gallons of gas for their thirsty vehicle.

He told me he just knew I’d stop and help them when he saw my pickup. He could tell by the various wire scratches on the fenders and chains, pliers and fence stretchers in the back, that I was from cow country.

Farmers, he said, are the best kind of people, and though he’d been the subject of scorn for scores of traffic-weary city dwellers just minutes before, he seemed to have a rare appreciation for the good in everyone.

After we got some fuel for him, I again maneuvered through the hectic post-game traffic and dropped him off across the street from where we left his car.

He again thanked me and vigorously waved to me as I pulled away. I was quite proud of myself. In true Boy Scout fashion, I had fulfilled the “do a good turn daily” requirement for the day.

As a matter of fact, I felt pretty certain that this particular good turn might even exempt me from good-turn-doing for a day or two.

The next morning, as I was stepping out of the pickup after parking in front of the church to attend Sunday services (yes, a really good Samaritan wants to be seen in front of the church), I noticed an unfamiliar set of keys between the seats of the truck.

I reckoned the keys were an old set that my teenage son had lost. It didn’t take some real stellar detective work to figure out the keys belonged to my farmer-loving hippy friend.

For all I knew, the poor guy was, at that moment, still sitting in his car, more stranded than he had been when I found him. Yes, I was a good-deed-doer indeed.

To this day, I’m not sure of the real end to this story. There was an old tag from Hastings on the key ring. Since I didn’t even know his first name, this was my only clue to his identity.

I took the keys to the Hastings store in Twin Falls and explained the predicament. The store manager took the keys, and after about 45 minutes, got in touch with the store in Boise where they figured the tag had come from.

Per policy, he wouldn’t share any of the information gleaned from the tag, but he assured me that he and the store manager in Boise would do their best to track down the keys’ owner.

I can only hope they found him. I wonder what that guy thinks of cowboy Samaritans now?  end mark

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