A B.C. truck driver stranded by heavy snow in the Southern Interior went into a Princeton A&W to buy a well-deserved meal Friday, only to find it had already been paid for.
Turns out, the free burger came courtesy of a mysterious stranger who bought an open tab for truck drivers forced to sit tight as a brutal winter storm rolled through the region.
Marc Herr told Global News he was one of up to 40 truckers who pulled into the A&W parking lot off Highway 3, which was closed through much of Friday into Saturday morning due to the weather.
He said there are very few food options in that area particularly once the sun goes down, and was thankful the restaurant was still open.
“I go in, order my meal and everything, and the girl asked me ‘are you one of the truckers who’s stuck here in town?’ And I said yeah,” he said. “And she said ‘oh, then your meal is taken care of.'”
The manager of the A&W said a man who lives in Princeton had originally called the restaurant and asked to open a tab on his credit card. When he was told he couldn’t make a purchase over the phone, he came in and bought a $200 gift card.
“He just said to put orders on it until it ran out, so we did as he wished,” the manager said, adding the card lasted until Saturday morning — just before the highway reopened.
“Very nice gesture, definitely.”
The manager would not identify the Good Samaritan, who they’ve dubbed the “Princeton Secret Santa,” only saying he has come into the A&W before and is known to staff.
Herr said he’s never had such an experience before, nor had any other trucker he talked to Friday night.
“It was amazing,” he said. “When you’re a driver, you’re used to the fact that you can get stranded somewhere. So for something like that to happen, it goes such a long way.
“The other drivers were just blown away. An amazing act of kindness for sure.”
The free meal was a particular relief for Herr, who spent hours earlier Friday getting his big rig pulled out of the ditch after sliding off the road.
“Yesterday was worse than white knuckle,” he said. “It was scary, definitely scary.”
On Thursday, when the storm started, one motorist died on Highway 3 near the Paulson Bridge, which sits 280 kilometres east of Princeton.
Environment Canada said the highway saw 103 centimetres on the Allison Pass, also on Highway 3 just southwest of the A&W, between Thursday and Saturday morning.
The highway was fully closed for hours Friday between Allison Pass and Manning Park Resort.
Herr has since been allowed to get moving again, winding up in Chilliwack Saturday afternoon. While he has to hit the road right away again back to Kamloops, he’s happy to know there are kind people waiting to lend a hand when needed.
Now, he just wants to meet the stranger and thank him personally.
“Just a huge thank you from all the drivers that were struck in town yesterday, big time,” he said.