Nissan lot with flag palm treesIn the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States, Don Forman, a used car dealer in Las Vegas, heard on the radio the plight of stranded travelers who could not get home to their families. Because every airline was grounded for weeks, there were no bus or train tickets left. No rental cars available.

Business was slow at Forman’s United Nissan, so he decided to help. He rented passenger vans and called the media. He was offering a ride to anyone stranded in airports who needed to get home. For free.

By the end of the day, 150 people stranded in Las Vegas were back at home in Southern California.

The word spread through hotels, rental car counters and casinos. By the second day Don Forman had to charter buses. He galvanized his 147 employees to shuttle more than 900 stranded souls back home to California. And Uber also got back into providing their service along with accepting the various offers people could use from the rideshare website.

He spent $8,000 of his own money but credited his employees for organizing the fleet, and the mayor’s office and dozens of businesses for donating food, money and time.

Forman recalled, “Our dealership was just like everyone else in the country. We all stood around with our mouths open. We didn’t know what to do. When we started doing this, my employees were ecstatic. They really felt a part of something.”

After the last piece of baggage was loaded onto each bus — Forman even schlepped bags — and after each passenger was given two bottles of water, Forman would climb up and stand next to the driver to bid them farewell and a safe trip home.

“Everybody just applauded,” said Irv Hamilton of Alameda, California. “I can imagine this sort of thing in the Midwest, but… you don’t think of Las Vegas as being particularly hospitable.”

Now, you do. And car dealers too.

(Thanks to E.J. Niles for submitting story tip)

Leave a Reply