The Day I Met a True Guardian Angel on I-10

RoadsideSurvivial

With our expansion of Goodtaste.tv into Houston, I spend countless hours up and down Interstate 10 on a regular basis. A few years ago, my husband and I were traveling to the Bayou City rushing to get to a video shoot when a tire blew. The sound is unmistakable, and the feeling of dread is similar to seeing red and white lights flashing in your rear view mirror.

Our blow-out happened on a remote stretch of the highway (most of that I-10 stretch can be described like that). We were both in biz clothes, and of course, it was a hot Texas morning. But, the main concern was our safety. We weren’t traveling with a gun and felt very helpless and somewhat insecure not knowing what would happen next.

As Mike began unloading the trunk to retrieve the jack and start the process of changing the tire, two vehicles pulled over within a few seconds of one another. My prayer was please God, let these be nice people. Both driver’s were well intentioned, but one of them was like a true highway angel…for real. Turns out this roadside warrior was a decorated veteran of our U.S. Army, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with a distinguished service career. I didn’t know that at the time.

The mysterious man took charge of our predicament. He said driving up and down the interstate rescuing stranded drivers is his hobby. It might sound like a strange calling, but not when you’re the one in need…it’s the biggest gift you can imagine.

About a month later, I received a package in the mail from this mystery roadside angel. Inside, an odd piece of wood and a very kind letter explaining who is he and what he does for his hobby.

Walt Brinker, Roadside Angel

Walt Brinker, Roadside Angel

The man, Walt Brinker, asked for nothing in return for his service, only that we’d be more prepared, more aware for those highway excursions. Part of that preparedness involved the piece of wood in his package. Turns out the wood is for placing under the jack to stabilize it. Its use almost insures a foolproof process of changing the tire.

Fast forward to this past week, and I received another letter from Mr. Brinker. He has moved out of Texas but is still helping stranded motorists (he’s helped more than 2000) in his new state of North Carolina.

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Mr. Brinker has also written a book on roadside survival that’s well worth your time. It’s called Roadside Survival: Low-Tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdown.

Walt Brinker, thank you again. Our chance meeting that day was special in more ways than one. Your assistance that morning was priceless, not only for the obvious reasons of safety and timeliness, but you also reinforced my belief that people are good, and sometimes we actually do get to meet a guardian angel—a true gift indeed!

4 Responses to The Day I Met a True Guardian Angel on I-10

Diane Mathews says: May 18, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Beautiful! You have the most amazing and tender “good heart”! Truth is…as much as you feel that YOU were the only one who benefited by his kindness, he benefited even more, by the very fact that you genuinely recognized and acknowledged his mission; proof that things don’t “just happen”!

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Walt Brinker says: May 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Tanji,

I’m thrilled that my letter reached you, and that you blogged that most complimentary piece on your website. Also, great to see that the plywood square I gave you is in your trunk “just in case”! My book, on pages 47 and 48, recounts our original meeting on I-10, citing the need to provide stability for a vehicle jack while lifting a car to change a tire.

I had no idea you were so talented, and I love your website.

Mega-Smiles,

Walt

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Mylene Brinker says: May 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Walt is my brother, and yes, he has been doing this for years. His car trunk is stocked with equipment to help stranded motorists, so much so that his luggage goes in the back seat. On one of his recent trips to San Antonio, my husband and I were riding with him and accompanied him as he help out a gentleman who hade a flat tire. Within about 15-20 minutes, the man was on his way, very grateful for the assistance.

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Gary Farrall says: August 30, 2014 at 1:11 am

I’m driving from Santa Barbara to San Antonio Dec 22 2014 and I’m doing it alone. #1 I’m disabled and i cant drive for long long periods of time (maybe 5hrs max) anyways I’m scared to death about breaking down on this I10 highway and being stuck for hours at a time. I have 4 days to do this trip. Can someone please give me a good / safe route from Santa Barbara to San Antonio?? Thank you,
Gary Farrall

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