British Columbia·Point of View

The kindness of strangers: Lessons from leather-clad motorcyclists who stopped to change flat tire

This week's story takes place in Ontario in the late 1950s, when Pauline Buck was driving to her family’s summer cabin as a child.

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Pauline Buck was about 10-years-old when her family got a flat tire while driving to their summer holiday cabin. The people who stopped to help weren't who they were expecting. (Submitted by Pauline Buck)

CBC Radio One's The Early Edition is asking listeners to share their stories of kindness from strangers for a series that runs on Thursday mornings.

This week's story takes place in Ontario in the late 1950s, when Pauline Buck was driving to her family's summer cabin as a child.

Dear stranger,

It's funny how things just stay with you for such a long time: we briefly met back in the 1950s, when I was about 10-years-old.

Every summer, my parents rented a family cottage for two weeks in July and we'd drive up on a Friday night when they finished work.

There we were, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in good old southern Ontario humidity heading off on holiday, when we got a flat tire.

My dad pulled the car over to the side of the road and did the only thing he could do: nothing.

He had a really serious heart condition and had already had a couple of heart attacks.

In those days, people with a heart condition were told not to do any strenuous activity — no shoveling snow, cutting the grass or changing a tire.

So we sat on the side of the road, hoping that a good Samaritan driving by would see us, pull over and help change the tire for us.

After about an hour and half, still no one had stopped.

All of a sudden, my dad looked in the rearview mirror and spotted two motorcycles roaring up to our car.

"Quick, roll up your windows. Here come a pair of black-jacketed thugs," he told us frantically.

I thought my dad was going to have another heart attack when you and the other motorcyclist parked right in front of us and walked over.

You asked if we needed help with our car and my dad, suddenly Mr. Calm-Cool-and-Collected, explained the situation.

No hesitation, you offered to change the tire and our car was soon road-ready again.

Between our expressions of thanks, my dad offered to pay you for your help. You declined and told us that you belong to a motorcycle club.

One of the rules of the club, you explained, is to stop and help people on the side of the road.

The encounter really showed not to judge a book by its cover and sometimes the kindest people aren't who you expect.

Even the scariest-looking, leather-clad motorcyclist can be the kind stranger who stops to help change a tire.

Thank you.


Pauline Buck

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