CEDAR GROVE, W.Va. — West Virginians are renowned for their helpfulness, a generosity that is perhaps most evident in their devotion to helping stranded motorists.
When pulled over alongside the road to engage in a cell phone call, many out-of-staters have quickly found themselves engaged with a concerned native tapping at their window, checking on their welfare.
During a Thanksgiving journey through the Mountain State, one traveler experienced this helpfulness firsthand and has been broadcasting her appreciation.
Liz Hartmann was following US-60 into the national parklands when her car stopped, and her adventure unfolded, she wrote in an email to West Virginia Explorer Magazine.
"My mom and I, with our two dogs, embarked on a cross-country road trip from Denver, Colo., to Wilton, Conn., for the holidays. On day three of this trip, we were passing through Cedar Grove on our way to stay outside of the New River Gorge National Park," Hartmann recalled.
"We had completed over 1,000 miles of our adventure with minimal issues besides the silly squabblings of a mother and daughter duo. At the traffic light on US-60 East in Cedar Grove, I stopped my car at a red light and was confused when my car stayed put as I hit the gas on green."
"There we were — stuck at a green light with a broken down car, two anxious dogs, very far from home."
However, Hartmann's fears quickly abated as passersby began to offer help.
"After pushing our car off the side, we called for roadside assistance through our insurance. Before we even got through to an agent on the phone, not one, not two, but three people had stopped to ask us if they could help.
"The first truck to stop and help were two gentlemen offering a jump. A jump was unnecessary, but they assessed my vehicle and told me it sounded like a fuel pump issue. While on the phone with roadside assistance, they provided all the local knowledge I would need about the best tow and which mechanics to trust. As they left, I felt safe knowing where to bring my car for service."
However, her roadside assistance service was not based in West Virginia, and the outcome was not as helpful as she'd hoped: "My roadside assistance ended up being a bust. They were unhelpful and unable to find me a tow."
But just then, old Saint Nick showed up!
"In a big red pickup truck, out popped Santa Claus! While he did not bring me a fuel pump, he did offer his guidance, support, and care as I stood on the side of the road, making calls to various wreckers and mechanics. He told us the safest and cleanest hotels to look for and even gave us access to a local restroom before heading home to Mrs. Claus.
"The wrecker arrived shortly and worked with us to keep our pups safe and squeeze my mom and me in his clean truck cab. He dropped us off directly at our hotel, helped get the luggage out of our car, and made sure we were safe before taking our car to the mechanic right in the adjacent parking lot.
"Just yesterday, after returning to Connecticut, I received a follow-up text asking if we had arrived safely. I am so grateful we found such a good and thoughtful man to secure our safe passage and take care of us during our mini-crisis. The mechanics were wonderful, too! They came in on a Saturday for a small and reasonable fee.
"We were so appreciative of any service over the weekend. Besides the incredible men of West Virginia who ended up helping us, a hundred more stopped and checked on us when we were stranded. This was my first time visiting West Virginia, and I have to say I am excited to return soon.
"Y’all have the nicest people, the most beautiful rivers, and the best biscuits I’ve ever experienced! Thank you for your hospitality, care, kindness, generosity, and grace! Merry Christmas from some weary and grateful travelers!"
Sign up for a FREE copy of West Virginia Explorer Magazine in your weekly email. Sign me up!