A guardian angel?

It’s been a tough and heavy year. One might also conclude that 2020 stunk. (Sorry.) With that off my chest, I can assure you this final editorial of 2020 will have absolutely nothing to do with politics or COVID-19.

Rather, I am going to share a story. It seemed fitting and on the lighter side, as we embark on the holiday season. I haven’t shared this with many people, for fear they may consider it a little “out there.” But I attest it is 100 percent truth.

I spent the early part of my career darting across North Dakota, visiting co-ops and attending meetings with farmers and ranchers. Mostly during the winter months, after fall harvest.


One dark, subzero December night, I was driving alone. The roads were slick. After three hours on the road, I suddenly felt the urge to accelerate, in hopes I would find a restroom…fast. Big mistake. I veered slightly off the road. I was stuck. Not in deep snow, just a fresh dusting, but underneath was solid ice. My car was immobilized. No traction.

I quickly got out to assess the situation and grabbed a shovel. (Because what North Dakota farm kid doesn’t carry a metal grain shovel in the trunk?) I tried to dig a bit, but the ice rendered it a pointless effort. I wasn’t going anywhere. Feeling defeated, I shook the snow off my cold, wet hands, and my wedding ring slipped off, flew in the air and landed in the fresh snow. I searched and searched – another pointless effort.

Now even more frustrated and defeated, I pulled out my car phone. (Yes, they were still called car phones then.) No service. Desperate, cold and upset, and running out of options, I slammed my hands against the steering wheel, uttered a few four-letter words, closed my eyes, face palmed and thought, “Now what am I going to do?”

I regrouped, looked up and was startled! Out of nowhere, standing at my front bumper was one of the biggest, strongest, and frankly, scariest-looking dudes I had ever seen. Oh, and he was wearing a tank top. No joke.

This powerful man leaned over, extended his arms, grabbed my front bumper and gave me the “North Dakota nod” – silently communicating, “When I push, give it some gas.” Slowly but surely, this superhero of a man seemingly lifted/pushed/slid my car back onto the road. Then, with the car parked, I quickly got out to say thank you.

It was too late. The tank-topped man had already climbed into his white ’96 Chevy Corsica. We exchanged a slight wave, and he drove away.

Feeling relieved as I strutted back to my car, I noticed a small divot in the snow. I reached down and pulled out my wedding ring.

My guardian angel is a 6-foot-8, 350-pound man, who wears a tank top in wintertime and drives a Corsica, or so I joke. Call it what you will. A guardian angel. Help from above. A good Samaritan. Or just a guy kind enough to help a stranger in need.

This holiday season will likely be more difficult than most. Kindness goes a long way. It can get someone out of a tough spot. It comes in all shapes and sizes. And it may even drive a Chevy Corsica.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at jkramer@ndarec.com.