Stranded on an Alaskan Highway, a Stranger Saves the Day

Being stranded in the middle of nowhere, Alaska wasn’t what Vanessa Foster envisioned when she decided to leave her life in Texas behind. But that’s where she found herself on a chilly evening in 1985.

She and her then-husband had just boarded a flight to Alaska without much of a plan. When they landed, they bought an old truck with the last of their money and drove across the state. Foster was starting to feel like her world was spiraling out of control.

“I had nothing left in the world. Nothing,” she said.

Shortly after their driveway, they saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road and her husband decided to give him a lift. The stranger climbed into the cab of the truck and they drove on. After a few hours they stopped at a rest stop.

“I hopped out, ran over to the women’s room, and when I came out a few minutes later, my husband was exiting the men’s room,” Foster recalled. “And we blindfolded and we looked over to the parking lot and [the] Hitchhiker and our truck were gone.”

The man had left them nothing. No car, no money. They only had about a dollar in change left.

“So we became hitchhikers,” Foster said.

As they walked down the highway, none of the cars slowed to pick them up. Finally an El Camino stopped. A middle-aged man with bright blue eyes sat in the driver’s seat. He told them to get in.

“I’ll never forget glancing over at him as we drove down the street and saw that he was holding the wheel the same way my father did,” Foster recalled. “When I saw the way his hands were positioned on the steering wheel, I took that as a sign that I could trust this man.”

Foster says the man’s kindness in picking her up restored her faith in humanity. And it didn’t stop there. When he heard the couple were unemployed, he offered them summer jobs and lodging at his ranch near Homer, Alaska. They gladly accepted.

After a stint on the ranch as a cook, Foster divorced her husband and started a new life. The experience affected her so much that she wrote about it in a book titled More than All. When she looks back on that time in her life, all these years later, she says she will never forget that man with the bright blue eyes.

“I’d really like to hug him and just tell him how much I appreciate his kindness to some strangers on this Alaskan highway,” she said.

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast – new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share your unsung hero’s story with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice note on your phone and send it to [email protected]

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