I sent out an appeal for "good Samaritan" stories and appreciation of local transportation, and readers had plenty to say. I'm thankful for that.

If these stories prompt more, send them in, and we'll look to run another such column next month.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This past summer, I was heading home to Leesburg at 2 a.m. on the Dulles Greenway when I saw a Honda Civic on the side of the road with the flashers on. I stopped to see if I could do anything.

The driver was a Delta Air Lines employee also going home after work to Charles Town, W.Va. She said she hit something on the road and feared her whole front end was messed up.

Fluid was leaking out from under the car, and whatever she hit had knocked the plastic fender well loose and was rubbing the tire, causing a very unsettling noise.

She had called a wrecker and was waiting for it to get there when I came by. She was, understandably, pretty apprehensive about being alone with some guy in the middle of the night on a lightly traveled road.

I took a look at her car and managed to pull the fender well off the tire and hold it back with a cord. The fluid leak was something else.

After checking the radiator and other obvious fluids, all seemed fine to me, so I crawled under the car and took a closer look. Around that time, she asked me how bad it was and whether she'd be able to get home. I told her she was in deep trouble after finding the cause of the leak. She would have to drive home without being able to use her windshield washers, because whatever she hit had broken the hose off the reservoir, and that's what was leaking.

She couldn't believe it, and I told her that it really would be okay to drive it just as long as she didn't try to use the washer.

Jim DeCarufel


Most of the time, I get stories from people who are helped by a good Samaritan. Rarely do I get one from the good Samaritan himself. It is good to know there are such people out there. I'm sure that airline employee was most thankful.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I would like to thank the person or persons who put cardboard in the window of my car during the weekend of Nov. 11. I had left the driver-side window of my SUV open while in the long-term parking area at the Baltimore Washington International Airport.

I was gone for six days, and apparently it rained for several of those days.

It is so refreshing to know that some people still care. I hope that the person who did this good deed reads this and knows that I thank him/her for his/her kind gesture.

Myriam Bower


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I would like to give thanks to Metro for the RideGuide on its Web page. This is an incredible service.

I live in Herndon and currently work in Ashburn in Loudoun County, but I just accepted a job at Reagan National Airport. One of my biggest concerns in taking the job was the commute, since I had a relatively easy 10-mile, 20-minute commute, and National is about 25 miles away.

I knew that my new employer offered a Metro subsidy, so I wanted to check into using public transportation. I went to the WMATA Web page, put in my starting point, destination, travel date and time and, with the click of a button, received three different options involving bus and rail travel.

All three showed the times involved and the cost. At the push of another button, I was able to get a similar combination for my return trip.

I quickly realized that using mass transit was going to make my commute to my new job easy and affordable.

My girlfriend was so impressed with my results that she is planning to use the RideGuide to determine if she can take public transportation to her job in Bethesda at least once a week.

So, thanks, Metro. Nicely done.

Mark Tune


To use this service, log on to www.metroopensdoors.com and click on "Getting Around." Then click on "Plan Your Trip," and you'll be in the "RideGuide" section and can do the same type of research as Mr. Tune did.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I took a 12-month contract in downtown D.C. last year, starting in December.

The Metro trains and the folks who run them have been my daily friends from the first day I arrived in the city.

When I arrived at Reagan National Airport on a Sunday last December, a wonderful Metro employee was out by the ticket machines to help me with fares and train advice.

I rented an apartment in Ballston and have depended on the trains every day for almost a year now to get to work and back. I left my car back in Tampa.

I'll go back there when my contract is over, but while I'm here, I love the Metro. I love the folks who take care of me every day to get to work and back. If I can't get there by train, I don't need to go.

I've been extended for another six months, so I moved to Pentagon City, where I can take the Yellow Line into the city.

I loved the Orange Line, but it's getting so crowded. This Thanksgiving, I'm flying back to Tampa, but I'll be thankful for all the Metro men and women who have made it possible for me to enjoy this fantastic city for a year without ever having to get behind the wheel of a car.

I'm a believer.

Phyllis Donofrio


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My thankful story concerns train transportation: Amtrak. Last summer on one of those really hot days, I had just finished a long and tiring business trip in New York, and all I wanted to do was get on the train at Penn Station and get back to D.C.

It was also the day that the high-speed Acela trains were canceled, so you can imagine the crowds trying to get on the conventional trains that were running.

I had a big duffle bag on one shoulder and a backpack on the other and was getting jostled a lot.

I got on one section of the train only to find it was the food car. I had to push my way off and try another car. Just as I was about to make it on and try to find a seat, my backpack zipper opened, spilling everything on the platform and underneath the train!

Well, people pushed on by me to get seats while I started to crawl around on the platform to pick up my valuables.

An employee of Amtrak got down on the platform with me and told me not to worry, he would help me and get me on the train.

Another passenger noticed that my cell phone, wallet and checkbook were some of the items beneath the train. After the employee helped me with the platform items, he put me on the train, turned off the electricity to the train, crawled under the train and secured all of my items and returned them to me.

I only wish I could remember his name. I thanked him very much and tried to give him some money, but he refused. He said that it was just part of his job.

Madge Haven


What a wonderful story. If you can get me the details -- the day, time, train and description of the Amtrak employee, I'll try to find out who helped you.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Recently, we were driving home from Arlington on I-395 south, approaching the Mixing Bowl. We noticed a small white sedan with D.C. plates flashing his lights ahead of us. He kept switching lanes.

We came up to his side, and he motioned us away. The box truck in front of us must have gotten a flat tire. He was riding on his rim. Sparks were flying.

This car was trying to make the truck aware of it and protect other drivers in the meantime. I don't know if he was able to get the truck's attention. We approached our exit.

I'd really like to thank him. It was a very selfless thing to do, especially in this area.

Chrystyna Andrychowski


Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Loudoun Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.