Tuesday, December 10, 2013


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Story and photos by Sharon A. Penny

December 1, 2013 (El Cajon)--Thomas Weller of El Cajon has had stories printed throughout the nation about his acts of kindness (by CBS News, The LA Times, People Magazine and NPR, among others), as well as international publications. Yet this East County man remains humble and steadfast in his pursuit of paying it forward.

Weller, known as the San Diego Highwayman ( www.sandiegohighwayman.com) has been helping distressed motorists for almost 50 years. He never accepts payment for his kind gestures - which include providing gas for empty tanks to replacing batteries to fixing flats. Instead, he hands each motorist a card with the following inscription:

"Assisting you has been my pleasure. I ask for no payment other than for you to pass on the favor by helping someone in distress that you may encounter."

These words were spoken to Weller when he was a teenager in Illinois.

"When I was 16, being a normal teenage boy, I was out chasing girls in my old black and white cruiser during a snowstorm. I lost control and ran into a snow bank," he said. "The only thing visible was the black trunk of my car sticking out. A kindly gentleman found me after several hours and rescued me - I'm convinced he saved my life. When I offered to pay him, he said those words that I now have printed on my card."

Weller explained it took him two more years to mature and truly grasp the meaning of paying it forward. By that time, he had moved to San Diego and graduated from Point Loma High School. At the ripe old age of 18, he began his quest to help motorists in distress and show kindness to strangers.

Beulah and Shela

For decades, Weller drove a Ghostbusters-inspired car, which he named Beulah, chosen from the book Code Three that he had read as a teenager. Weller's Beulah was a mixture of many makes, models and years of vehicles. The main body was a 1955 Ford Country sedan, with a 1956 Crown Victoria front metal clip. Sadly, Beulah was "killed," as Weller puts it, when he was sideswiped by a car in August 2011.

The car was totaled, and he now drives a former 1956 Mercury ambulance conversion. Although it is not Beulah, it distinguishes him from any other search and rescue vehicle on the road.

During the past 10 years, Weller's partner in his Good Samaritan work has been Shela, his faithful blank christmas cards collie/lab mix. She loves riding shotgun in his customized rescue wagon.

A mechanic by trade, now retired, Weller put his skills to good use, but more importantly, he continues to restore faith in humanity for some those who remain skeptical.

"I stopped to help one guy who was very leery and disbelieving that I just wanted to help him," he explained. "He turned out to be a TSA agent, so he often saw the worst in many people. It wasn't until I finished and headed out to leave that he finally got it. This very tentative, suspicious man suddenly turned animated and thanked me. I told him to pass it on."

He's had a few other people who were disbelieving of his kindness, especially women alone. He explained that he never imposes himself on anyone. Instead, he'll move along out of the way, but within watching distance to make sure that the person is safe with other help before he leaves.

The majority of people he encounters, however, are grateful, surprised and pleased to repeat random acts of kindness for his good-hearted deed. He estimates that he has helped more than 5,000 people.

"I've met so many great people. One family from San Jose stands out. They were visiting San Diego during a Fourth of July weekend when their alternator gave out. I lent them my booster battery to make it back to their hotel. Because they were from out of town and most repair shops were closed for the holiday, I knew they were going to have a hard time getting their alternator fixed. So I gave them my address to stop by before they went home. I installed their freshly charged battery and provided them with a second battery for their vehicle. I knew they could make it home on that and deal with the alternator in San Jose."

Weller explained the reason they stood out was the lovely thank you note/drawing he received from their young daughter, Whitney.

"She drew a car battery and my rescue mobile with Shela in the driver's seat, which is where Shela thinks she belongs," he laughed. "It's my favorite thank you ever."

Weller still gets in his rescue mobile with Shela almost every day - often seven days a week. A local college student, Sarah Brown, is currently making a documentary film about him that should be released in early 2014.

"As long as I'm able, I will continue to do this," he said. "I'll be 66 on Christmas day, but I still get as much joy from this as I did when I began it in 1966."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas shopping? Leave the card at home - HispanicBusiness.com

Dec. 05 --TRIAD -- It's time again to spread holiday cheer, and hopefully not go broke doing it. According to the National Retail Federation , the average consumer spent $752 in 2012 during the holidays. This amount includes gifts for family, friends and coworkers, decorations, food and candy, and holiday cards. So how do you stop yourself from blowing the bank during the holidays? Susan animated christmas cards online , executive vice president of retail banking with High Point Bank and Trust , suggests that consumers start planning and putting money aside early. "You should open an account that is designated for holiday spending or special occasions like vacation," Apple said. "You should do an automatic transfer into the account throughout the year. If you don't see it, you don't think about it much of the time." Apple said a lot of banks offer incentives or match the funds that you save in that account. If you still have not finished your holiday shopping, Apple warns consumers to be aware of how much they are spending. She said consumers should steer clear of the credit cards. "The credit card bills come in January and are overwhelming a lot of the times," Apple said. "You create balances that are hard to pay off." Apple encourages consumers to lock up their credit cards or leave them at home. She said it will cut down on buyer's remorse and credit card payments. "For some reason, spending cash feels more like 'spending' than pulling out the plastic," Apple said. "It is almost psychological. If you have cash, and you know that is all the cash you have to spend for that day, you are not going to go over that amount of cash." Apple also suggests thinking of creative ways to give if consumers don't have the money to spend. "Do something that is not expensive," Apple said. "Think about what those people like and enjoy and make them meaningful gifts. It is inexpensive but full of thought." cdavis@hpe.com -- 888-3657 Holiday Shopping Tips - --Make your decisions before shopping. --Set a limit. --If you lack discipline, leave the credit cards at home. Bring cash instead. --Shop for bargains. Do the research to get the best price. --Watch the need to impulse shop. --Give yourself a present by saving for next year. Open up an account specifically for Christmas savings. ___ (c)2013 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) Visit The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) at www.hpe.com Distributed by MCT Information Services