In keeping with our Thanksgiving tradition, Dr. Gridlock presents today some of the good Samaritan stories you have sent in during the past year. I'm happy to report that there are many more than we have room to print.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I had just finished a sweltering, competitive horse ride in Charles County when my vehicle, horse in tow, broke down on Indian Head Highway (Route 210) at the Beltway. It was 97 degrees and a Redskins Sunday. Traffic was jammed everywhere.

Immediately several people stopped to help. They looked as wilted as I felt. They, too, had been stuck in the heat and traffic for hours.

The last person to pull over was Dr. Mary Prowell, a neighbor, who somehow turned around and maneuvered behind me. No easy feat pulling a horse trailer in gridlock. I have never been so happy to see anyone. Please note that my so-called high-spirited Arabian walked on the Beltway--with thousands of cars passing--from my trailer to hers. She took him home.

Then another good Samaritan, from Boonsboro, Md., said if I just waited until the brake fluid cooled, my brakes would work fine. He was right.

If this gets published, I'd like to thank everyone who stopped, or who wanted to but couldn't. Thank your lucky stars for the kindness of friends and strangers!


Mount Airy

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On a Wednesday night last month, my tire blew out entering the Capital Beltway from River Road. I was en route to pick up my father at Dulles airport.

The only place I could pull over was in a dark (broken overhead light), wooded area. I started to panic, being alone. I called AAA, and they said it would be at least an hour before they could get there.

I was in the process of looking for the tools and removing the spare tire when a gentleman and his two sons stopped to help. They tried to change the tire but were not successful. (Neither was the AAA; the car had to be towed.)

What is amazing is that this wonderful man not only stayed with me until AAA arrived, but he then insisted on driving me to Dulles to pick up my father! He then insisted on driving us both home.

I have thanked this wonderful family in a personal way, but I wanted to acknowledge them publicly. As my son said, "He wasn't a good Samaritan, he was a great Samaritan."



What a wonderful lesson for the good Samaritan's sons, too.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My van conked out on the Beltway last winter in snowy conditions. I was attempting without success to replace the serpentine belt that came off my engine when Roberto Lopez stopped to offer assistance. With his help, I was able to replace the belt and drive away.

Roberto refused any money, saying, "What goes around, comes around."



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Like other car drivers, I am frequently annoyed at drivers of these huge sport utility vehicles that are so intimidating. They seem oblivious to the rest of us.

That's why it was so refreshing to see an example of SUV courtesy. Two weeks ago, on a busy Sunday night at the southern end of the New Jersey Turnpike, I ran into a long backup at the tollbooth.

A Ford Expedition with D.C. plates pulled up behind me, his headlights shining right into my rearview mirror. Then something magical happened: He turned his headlights off for the 15 minutes until we passed through the tollbooth.

That driver's empathy made my time sitting in traffic so much more pleasant. Bless him.



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I recently witnessed the kindest act in many years of moving about the District of Columbia.

Sept. 15, at noon, a Metro bus driver on the D4 Route, bus number 4057, helped a blind passenger transfer to bus number 9491 in the pouring rain on Reservoir Road.

The driver held an umbrella over him and walked him to the other bus, stopping traffic to complete the transfer. He should be commended for his great work.



Thanks to your detailed notes, Mr. Smolinski, Metro was able to trace the driver. He is Douglas Dutch.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In August, some nut knocked me into the median barrier on the American Legion Bridge. The impact sent me on an exciting ride as my car careened out of control and rolled over a time or two. It landed upside down and partially crushed. Fortunately, I wasn't seriously hurt.

I would like to thank the firefighters from the Fairfax County McLean station and the Cabin John Volunteer Fire Department who attended to my various bruises, bumps and cuts. Most of all, I'd like to thank that unknown civilian who helped extricate me from my collapsed and inverted car.

I don't know who these people are, but I will always remember their actions.

Community spirit is not dead in this town!



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I would like to tell you a story that has restored my faith in my fellow man.

My car broke down one night on Route 110, near the Pentagon. I locked it and stood nearby as drivers whizzed by. After 20 minutes, a young man stopped ahead of me and asked if I needed a lift.

I asked where he was going. He said Rosslyn. I told him that was not where I was going but asked him to drop me off there so I could make a phone call and arrange a tow.

He asked me where I lived, and I said Warrenton, in Fauquier County. He said he would take me there. I told him he couldn't do that, because it was 40 miles away. He insisted.

On the way, he asked if I had lived in this area all my life, and I told him I had lived in many places because I had spent 26 years in the Air Force.

When we arrived at my house, I got his name and phone number, and he said: "You don't owe me anything. Let's just be buds, and thanks for defending our country."

You could have knocked me down with a wet noodle.

His name is Jason Machowski. He lives in Arlington and works with federal records in Suitland.

Thanks, Jason. We need more people like you in this world.



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My friend and I are senior citizens. As we were driving from Montgomery County to Purcellville in Loudoun County, our car broke down on Route 15.

A young man and woman came toward us. I was afraid they would hurt us.

But he smiled and said he was in back of us and knew we needed help because our rear tire was shredding.

He immediately jacked up the tire and replaced it with the spare. He gave us instructions how to get to Leesburg and to a tire store there.

I attempted to pay him, but he gave me a big hug and said, "No, my Mom didn't bring me up that way."

I believe in angels.



Of their good deeds, good Samaritans also have been known to say: "Pass it on." Thanks for sharing your stories. Enjoy the day.

Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and Thursday in Southern Maryland Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.

CAPTION: Metro bus driver Douglas A. Dutch, left, talks with Scott Smolinski, who wrote Dr. Gridlock about Dutch's kindness toward a passenger.