When Justin Horner, a graphic designer living in Portland, Ore., had car trouble three times in one year, he was" disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help." Stuck on the side of the freeway, he watched tow trucks just drive by him.

After waiting for help for hours after a tire blowout, he was about to give up and hitch a ride when -- finally -- someone stopped. His essay about the experience, "The Tire Iron and the Tamale," appeared in The New York Times.