The kindness of strangers…

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    We were rolling along at 58 miles per hour, the maximum speed of a school bus in the Niobrara County School District at the time. The May sunrise was a few minutes away and we were almost to Cheyenne, a few miles from the intersection of US Highway 85 and Interstate 25 north of the capitol city.

    The 15 Lusk High School juniors were all asleep behind me as I drove them as Close Up sponsor to a rendezvous with tour buses in Cheyenne for a trip to Stapelton International Airport in Denver, and then on to Washington, D.C. They weren’t asleep much longer.


    With a loud bang, and a cloud of greyish white smoke blowing out from under the hood the bus lurched. I put the manual transmission in neutral and coasted for a good spot to stop. It was the first time an engine threw a rod when I was driving.

    It was decades before the cell phone. Some of the girls began to cry, thinking we weren’t going to make it to Cheyenne and the $500 they had paid for the trip was gone. To the north of the road there were a few houselights in the distance.

    I took one of the boys, Kevin, I think, and we started to run towards the houses (yes run, I was only 24 years old at the time.) We covered the mile-and-a-half quickly and knocked on the door of the first house.

    Someone yelled down, “Who is it?” from the second floor.


    I told them what had happened, and they said, “The door is unlocked, the phone is on the right. Good luck.”

    I made a call back to the Wyoming Close Up director, who told me not to worry, she would get a bus from Cheyenne to come pick us up.

    I then called the Lusk transportation shop and told them about the bus. It was the days of calling cards, so it didn’t cost those good Samaritans a dime to use their phone.


    We jogged back to the bus. I had the kids pull all their bags off and stack them in front of the flashing warning lights on the bus and we waited. About 20 minutes later, one of the tour buses showed up with a grinning driver who laughed as he asked me, “You guys need a lift?”

    We made the rendezvous and had a great time in D.C.

    The kindness of strangers is something that is often overlooked.


    We live in a time of doorbell cameras, motion lights, surveillance systems and media induced fear, not realizing that most of the world is filled with good people.

    We experienced this again in Scotland the last few weeks.

    My wife and her friend Debbie were sure we stuck out as clueless American tourists and worried the Scots would be annoyed by our behavior. As a guy who has helped many foreign tourists find their way to Yellowstone, Jackson, or Cody, I knew that wouldn’t be the case. Yes, we were clueless Americans, but the Highland people were nothing but gracious and helpful in every instance.

    Navigating airports is easy. There isn’t much difference between a medium sized airport like the one in Jackson Hole or the international variety at O’Hare, DIA, or Houston, it’s just a matter of scale and having the ability to follow signs and read a map. Most of the bigger airports have subways between the concourses so you ride the train every time you fly.

    Automated trains in airport subways are one thing, actual rail transport is quite another.

    We rode a train from London to Edinburg, another from Edinburg to Inverness, and then still another from Inverness to Glasgow with a switch in Stirling. Train stations aren’t the same as airports, but the good citizens of Great Britain were just as helpful as they were when we toured the rural countryside of that magnificent island.

    On our first train ride from London the van dropped us off with our mountain of luggage inside the terminal. The driver could have driven off at that point, but instead he parked his Mercedes van, and went inside to get our tickets and show us how to read the scrolling marquees of dozens of arriving and departing trains.

    The London railway station is vast with dozens of platforms and a schedule that allows just a few minutes to load and unload.

    For some reason, the Brits and Scots don’t like long notices on departing trains or aircraft. They announce platform or gate location just five to 10 minutes before departure. The bus terminals are different, with schedules market hours in advance.  

    We found our train, stacked our luggage, and enjoyed the run north at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. Their trains are simply the best. No graffiti, no thugs hanging around threatening passengers and no pan handlers.

    On our first night in Edinburg, Tad wanted to rent a car for a drive west to the Island of Danna. Our link to the vast world of information, (Google on our phones) indicated the only rental agency near us was operated by SIXT. The Google reviews of SIXT were terrible, but in reading them you could see they were all written by angry Karen’s who complained about the seatbelts, how cold the car was when they started and other earth shattering concerns.

    SIXT turned out to be a great company but finding them in a city 5000 miles from home that you’d never been to before was a challenge.

    Sue, Tad, and I decided to walk to the rental agency. Our phones indicated it was just a mile away up the steep hillside north of Edinburgh Castle. It was a great chance to see the city up close on a misty Saturday night with the street life hoping.

    The problem wasn’t SIXT, or Edinburg streets, it was our phones. All three phones indicated different directions and different locations for the SIXT Rental Office.

    My phone had never failed me before in locating an address, but it was driving me nuts this time. We kept circling around a one block area that all three phones indicated the office was located in.

    My phone was maddingly indicating we were just 300 feet from our destination.

    Sue finally saw a tiny sign reading “SIXT” on a glass door above the side of a building. The door had a scanner to open it. We jumped in behind a couple who had an access card and read the elevator. Sure enough, another tiny Sign read “SIXT -3.”

    In the elevator car there were numbers G through 4 and G through -3. It dawned on me, we were above an underground garage.

    At level -3, there was still no sign of the office. A giant Scotsman and his buddy walked towards us.

    “You looking for SIXT?” he asked. “We couldn’t find it either. Go around this row of cars and walk that way for a while you’ll see it.”

    He was right.

    Another tiny sign on a support beam pointed to the rental car office. An engaging man named Adrian grinned at us and said, “You might be out of luck, I don’t think I have any cars.”

    He checked his computer and said, “It’s your lucky day, that blue one you walked by is ready to go.”

    Adrian joked with us, told us a bit of his life story and how he ended up running a rental car office for a dozen years and sent us on our way.

    The kindness of strangers. It’s a trend that should catch on, and one that pervades the Wind River Country, or at least should, when we have flatlanders from the coasts or foreign friends come to see us.


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?