Jordan Williams was having a bad day. His car had broken down, and he’d had to take a bus to work. He was late since he had stopped over at the bank to draw the month’s wages for his two employees.
He was standing anxiously at the bus stop outside the bank, waiting for the bus that would take him to his shop, when a man approached him, asking for a handout so he could buy food. Jordan refused, and it was something he would always regret…
The man was in his thirties and wearing a long stained and dirty coat, but Jordan noticed that he was clean-shaven and reasonably clean. “Sir,” the man said quietly, “I haven’t eaten in three days, please could you help me?”
Jordan drew back in disgust. “No, I can’t help you! You should help yourself! Get a job!”
The man flushed. “I try, I try, but no one will give me a chance.”
Jordan sneered at him. “I’m not surprised! Look at you! Who would trust you?”
“I’m honest,” the man said with dignity, “Just because I’m homeless…”
But at that moment, the bus arrived, and Jordan hastily waved the man away. “Get lost, loser!”
He climbed onto the bus and saw the man staring up at him through the bus window. What a loser! He was probably a drunk or a druggy. Imagine thinking anyone would give him a job!
Jordan got to his store just as his two employees were arriving. He hurried into his office and started printing out that month’s salary sheet, then reached into his pocket. His wallet was GONE! And with it over $7,000 in payroll.
Jordan believed that the man was a thief because he was homeless.
Jordan reached for his phone and called the police. He reported the missing wallet, and the station told him they would send an officer over by the end of the day. Then Jordan remembered the homeless man.
He was sure the man had robbed him! Why else had he approached him? He must have seen me come out of the bank, thought Jordan. The dirty thief, pretending he was hungry!
Jordan called in his employees, apologized, and told them he would be paying them in the afternoon. He went back to the bank and drew the money to cover the salaries.
As he walked out, Jordan kept an eye out for the homeless man, but he was nowhere in sight. Probably drinking and drugging with MY money, Jordan thought bitterly, the dirty thief!
That evening, when Jordan arrived home, he was in for a surprise. Someone was sitting on his doorstep. As he drew closer, he recognized the homeless man from the bus stop.
“What are you doing here?” he asked angrily, then the man held out his wallet.
“You dropped it when you climbed on the bus,” the man said, “I looked to see your address…”
Jordan grabbed the wallet and opened it. It was all there! A crisp wad of cash! He looked up at the man in astonishment. “You brought it to me? Why?”
The man looked bewildered. “Why? Well, it isn’t mine! I’m not a thief, you know. I’ve lost everything, but I haven’t lost my principles.”
Jordan drew out a $100 bill and handed it to the man. He shook his head. “No, thank you, Sir. If you have something I could eat, I’d be grateful, but I don’t take payment for doing what’s right.”
Jordan led the man into his house and fixed him a good dinner. Over dinner, he learned the man’s story. He had been married and had worked as a merchandising manager at an electronics store — a nice normal life.
But then, his wife had been diagnosed with cancer… She had no medical insurance, and his was limited, so they had sold the house to pay for her treatments. He started missing work to accompany her to the hospital and was fired.
With no job and no home, he’d moved into a cheap motel close to the hospital and dedicated every cent to pay for his wife’s care. She had died just as their money had run out, and the man had become homeless.
“No one will hire me,” he said sadly.
“Don’t bet on it,” said Jordan, “I have a store — and I need someone who knows about merchandising, so if you need a job, you’ve got it!”
What can we learn from this story?
1. Don’t judge people by their appearance. Jordan believed that the man was a thief because he was homeless, but he turned out to be scrupulously honest.
2. A helping hand can change a life. Jordan’s offer of a job helped put the homeless man back on his feet. He gave him a chance when no one else would.