Before Thomas Weller leaves his El Cajon house and “goes out to play,” he looks like a character from the movie Mystery Men: he puts on black shin-guards (like the kind worn by baseball catchers), a reflective vest, and a Panama hat. He has a white, neatly trimmed mustache and looks like a homemade superhero.
You see, Weller (aka “The Highwayman”) has spent the past 38 years looking out for motorists stranded on San Diego’s highways. With his sidekick Shela (a six-and-a-half-year-old lab/collie mix) strapped into the passenger seat of his tricked-out 1955 Ford wagon, Weller takes off in search of those in need. Out of gas? Weller has plenty in the back of the wagon. Flat tire? It can be changed in 90 seconds — Weller was timed once by an impatient police officer. Dead battery? You get the point.
But because of exorbitant gas prices, Weller’s days of helping stranded motorists are sputtering out. He says he feels pangs in his chest thinking about it.
“It lifts my spirits, and if I don’t go out I start feeling very depressed. I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t go out and play anymore.” On average, Weller spends over $100 per rescue mission and his wallet is wearing thin...as is his wife’s patience.
Weller’s solution: to try and find “an angel.” For 17 months (starting in 2002), the Auto Trader paid for Weller's gas and for a cell phone, but those times are long gone and he's in search of a new angel.
For more info on Weller, cruise through his website at sandiegohighwayman.com.