Time for three more nominations to the Good Guy Hall of Fame. We hereby induct an anonymous couple, a young mechanic and a brave bunch of firefighters.
THE ANONYMOUS COUPLE: What is hell? It's when your car goes kaput 400 miles from home, near Hartford, Conn., in a driving rainstorm, in a stop-and-go traffic jam on I-84. Alas, that was the scenario that engulfed Steven Kravitz of Rockville one August day.
"I had jumper cables," Steven writes. "All I needed was someone to jump from."
But the passing show kept passing. "I must have asked a dozen cars for assistance," Steven writes. "Most people wouldn't even roll down their windows to see what I wanted."
Suddenly, a car crept past in the traffic jam. Could it be? It was. A car with Maryland plates.
Steven knocked on the window. An elderly couple was inside. The woman slowly rolled down her window.
"Hi, how would you like to help a fellow Marylander?" asked soaked-to-the-bone Steven. "I'm from Rockville and I need a jump start."
The couple didn't hesitate. The man turned his car around so that his engine was nose-to-nose with Steven's. Even though the rain was coming down in buckets, the man got out, attached the jumper cables and gave Steven's battery a jolt. Vroom!
The couple said they were from Cumberland, but that's all they said. Steven doesn't know if they're Levey readers. But in case they are, he wants them to know how much he appreciates "their friendly gesture on such an awful day."
THE YOUNG MECHANIC: Another rainstorm, which stranded another motorist. But this wasn't New England. This was Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, right in front of Chevy Chase Chevrolet.
The driver was Susie Van Pool of Northwest. Her car was a 1974 Toyota. It showed its age in the worst possible way -- by conking out in the middle of the street on a rainswept Saturday afternoon.
Expecting nothing, Susie wandered into CCC's showroom to ask if someone there had jumper cables. Ken Lackey, a salesman, pointed to a mechanic named Paul Reed and said, "See if he'll help you."
Indeed, Paul did. Without asking for money, and without even waiting for the rain to stop, Paul went right to it. He had Susie going again in minutes -- and she doesn't even drive (or plan to drive) a Chevy.
THE BRAVE FIREFIGHTERS: Fans of the Washington Redskins share two things: an absolute belief in their team, and the absolute belief that 25 lanes of post-game traffic can squeeze through a parking lot entrance that's one lane wide.
The first belief can produce joy, as it did on Sept. 13, when the Redskins mashed Philadelphia, 34-24. The second belief can produce a colossal traffic jam. Did he say "Can?" Make that "Does." Every time the Redskins play.
Usually, 25-lanes-into-one is merely a test of the fans' patience. On Sept. 13, it was a test of the D.C. Fire Department -- and the firefighters came through with flying colors.
The trouble began about 10 minutes after the game ended. Keith Allison was driving a brand-new Mercury that belonged to his Falls Church neighbor, Irvin Poole. Irvin's wife, Betty, was a passenger, as was the Pooles' 13-year-old granddaughter, Amanda Williams.
The Poolemobile was trying to squeeze out of Lot 8 when it suddenly caught fire. "Yes, I mean fire," said Betty. "Flames suddenly started shooting out of the hood. We were scared to death."
Everyone in the car abandoned ship. And dozens of bystanders jumped in to try to extinguish the fire.
"There were people taking off their shirts and beating on the flames," said Betty. "There was even one man who smothered the hood in a tarpaulin he had in his car." But none of it stopped the fire.
Meanwhile, Amanda displayed wise judgment beyond her years. She went running in search of a policeman. She finally found a motorcycle officer, who notified the fire department.
Engine Company 8 got the call for the fire. Somehow, Engine 8 wormed its way through the stopped traffic and reached the scene within three minutes. The fire was out in another two.
Betty Poole can't say enough for the firefighters -- and that's not just because Irvin used to be a member of the D.C. department himself. "They were tremendous," she said. "They knew just what to do."
For my money, the fans who helped out were pretty tremendous, too. Great team spirit, as the Redskins might say.
Footnote: I asked Capt. Curt Callaway, dayside commander of Engine 8, what Redskins fans should do if such an emergency happens again, and fire engines are trying to get into a packed RFK lot while fans are trying to get out.
"Cars should do what they normally do," Capt. Callaway said. "Yield, and don't try to push us into a corner. Just sit a minute and let us see what's going on." Good advice for RFK, and for anyplace.