Kyle West was homeless and desperate, but despite it all, he clung stubbornly to his principles. He wouldn’t beg, so he found himself a bucket, scrounged up a few dollars for a sponge and detergent, and cleaned cars in the hope of reward.
It hadn’t always been like this. Once Kyle had been a prosperous man, a loan assessment officer in a major bank, with huge responsibilities and a salary to match, but one day it had all come crashing down.
Now Kyle slept where he could, and washed cars for the loose change in the pockets of people he had once rubbed shoulders with. Life was hard, and unbeknownst to Kyle, it was about to get harder…
Kyle had found that he could sometimes earn enough to eat for a few days if he could sneak into the parking garage of one of New York’s most exclusive apartment buildings.
The parking garage of the luxurious high-rise housed thousands of top-of-the-line vehicles, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each, and their owners were always generous, desperate to get Kyle and his soapy sponge away from their fancy cars.
After two days without food, Kyle snuck in past the security gate one freezing afternoon and walked in with his bucket. There was a man h«getting into a Jaguar and Kyle walked up to him, and asked if he wanted his windscreen washed.
After Kyle washed the windscreen, the man carelessly threw a handful of coins at his feet, as if touching his hand was unbearable, and drove away. Kyle was kneeling to pick up the coins when the garage supervisor walked up to him.
“What are you doing here? You can’t be here, it’s against the company policy!”
Kyle sighed. “I’m sorry, I was just trying to earn enough to eat something by washing a few cars. I won’t make any trouble.”
Derek Lloyd was sympathetic, but he knew the building manager wouldn’t tolerate a homeless man on the premises. “I’m sorry, you have to leave…”
“Please,” Kyle said softly, “I haven’t eaten for two days. I’m not asking for a handout, just a chance to earn some money.”
Derek was moved by Kyle’s plea. “OK, I tell you what, our janitor walked out yesterday, so how about you clean up until I can find a replacement for him? You sweep up, pick up the trash, take out the garbage. OK?”
Kyle smiled. “Thanks, man! You’ve saved my life!” Kyle worked diligently for the next three hours, cleaning up the carelessly dropped wrappers, cigarette butts, and other garbage fastidious owners carelessly dropped before entering their cars.
He was wheeling one of the garbage bins to its proper place when he heard a woman’s voice scream: “Watch where you’re going!”
Kyle turned around and saw a slender, beautiful woman standing next to a slick Mercedes-Benz S65. The woman said angrily “You nearly scraped my car with that garbage bin!”
“Sorry, Ma’am,” Kyle said, “I assure you I was far from your car..”
“I know what I saw! Have you any idea how much that car is worth? More than your miserable life!”
“Young lady, are you equating the value of a car with a human life?”
“Oh, so you’re one of that uppity homeless are, you? Well, you’re garbage, human trash, so why don’t you go sit on the curb and get yourself dumped somewhere far from decent people?”
“Look, lady, I was doing my job, there’s no need to be offensive.”
“I pay a lot of money to live here, so I won’t have to deal with disgusting human refuse like you. I’m going to talk to the managed about this.” She took out her phone and dialed a number.
Kyle calmly wheeled the bin away and continued to work. A little later, the woman was back with another man in tow. The man was clearly furious. “What are you doing here? This is private property!”
Kyle greeted him politely. “Good afternoon, sir. I’m just cleaning up until you find a new janitor…”
“This is inconceivable!” the manager turned to the woman, “Mrs. Durbin, I assure you, we are NOT in the habit of hiring derelicts!”
Kyle couldn’t keep quiet. “Derelict? I’m not a derelict, I’m just a man trying to stay alive. I may be homeless, but I’m not a thief or a beggar. All I want is work, so don’t you dare revile me!”
The manager was even more irritated. He shouted: “Derek! Where the hell are you!” The supervisor quickly appeared and the manager ranted at him “You hired this creature to clean up? You’re lucky I don’t fire you on the spot!”
“I’m sorry, sir,” said Derek, “Kyle was looking for work and our janitor…”
“I know all about that! But we don’t hire these people, do you understand? You get him out of her right now, or you can share a cardboard box with him under a bridge. Do I make myself clear?”
Derek placed a gentle hand on Kyle’s shoulder. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll walk you out, buddy.”
Derek led Kyle to the staircase that led out of the garage. “Wait a minute, I’ll be back.” Derek returned with a coffee cup, and a lunch box. “Here, I want you to have this. I’m sorry about this,,,”
Kyle shook his head, “I’m sorry I got you into this.”
Derek sat down next to Kyle. “How did this happen to you, man?”
Kyle laughed bitterly. “I was a top official in a bank, and the CEO recommended I approve a $50 million loan to an acquaintance of his, but after I investigated, I realized the man was unreliable, maybe a conman.”
“And then?” Derek asked.
“I turned him down and sent the board a report on why I’d refused. Turns out the CEO knew all about the man, maybe he was even in on the scheme. I was fired, and he made sure no one else would hire me.”
“That’s tough!” Derek sympathized, “And then what?”
“My wife left me and took the children, and I had to sell the house to pay off the divorce settlement and my debts. I live in my car for a while, but I ended up selling that too.”
Derek shook his head, “I’m sorry man, that was bad luck all around, Listen, you sit here in the stairwell and eat your lunch, at least you’ll be warm, and you’re not exactly in the garage, so the manager can’t freak out at me.
“I don’t want any more trouble for you, Derek…” Kyle told him, “I’ll just eat and go.”
Kyle was sitting eating Derek’s sandwiches and savoring the hot coffee when he heard voices in the stairwell. “It’s the Merc S65, man, worth $400,000, and once it’s in parts it’s worth even more…”
Another voice queried: “Are you sure it’s here?”
The other man replied. “It’s my aunt’s and the stupid woman is LOADED! But she never gives me any…So I think it’s only fair I take what I need!”
Two young men walked past Kyle, and one of them keyed in the code to open the door to the garage. Kyle quickly followed them and waited behind a column.
The two men approached Derek. “Sir.” cried the taller one, “A homeless man took my phone, please could I use yours and call my server to track it down?”
Derek gave the man his phone and he quickly ran off. Derek immediately left in pursuit, leaving the coast clear for the second man. Kyle quietly followed him as he approached the car.
The man was connecting an electronic device to the car door when Kyle laid a heavy hand on his shoulder. “What do you think you’re doing?” The man tried to run, but Kyle quickly had him on the ground.
It was then that Derek arrived with his phone in his hand, panting. “What happened here?” he asked.
Kyle explained, “I heard this man and his friend saying they were going to steal a $400,000 car, so I followed them, You’d better call the police!”
Within minutes the police were on the scene, and so was the building manager. He immediately phoned the car’s owner. A policeman was cuffing the thief when the same elegant woman who’d insulted Kyle arrived.
“My car! Is my car alright?” she asked, then she spotted Kyle and the man in handcuffs. “What are you doing to my nephew? That’s the thief!” she cried pointing at Kyle.
“No, Ma’am,” said the police officer. “This man has been stealing luxury cars and we’ve finally got him red-handed.”.
“My nephew? My own nephew was stealing my car?”
Derek stepped forward. “This man stopped him, Mrs. Durbin. If it wasn’t for him, your car would be on the way to a garage to be taken apart.”
The woman blushed. “Thank you,” she said awkwardly to Kyle. She fumbled at her purse and took out a handful of notes. “Please, take this.”
Kyle shook his head. “No thank you. I didn’t do it for a handout, I only did what was right.”
“I don’t need charity, Ma’am. I don’t take handouts, I work for my money.”
It was then that the building manager stepped in. “Kyle, how about you take the janitorial position that’s just opened up in the building? It comes with a small studio apartment off the garage. No charity, a job, and a home.”
Derek was smiling. “Come on, man,” he said to Kyle, “Say yes. It’s hard work, and the pay isn’t great, but we’d be working together.”
Kyle smiled at the manager. “Thank you, sir, I’d be happy to work for you. Thank you!”
“No, Kyle, thank you. And please let me apologize for how I treated you earlier.”
Mrs. Durbin stepped forward and reached out her hand to shake Kyle’s hand. “I’m so sorry. I’m glad you’ll be around to watch out for us. Thank you.”
Kyle ended up finding a job and a home, but more importantly, he found himself friends who respected and cherished him for his courage and ethics.
What can we learn from this story?
1. People are worth more than any material possession. The arrogant rich woman ended up owing a huge favor to a man she’d considered worthless because he was poor and homeless.
2. Treat everyone with dignity. The manager and Mrs. Durbin had reviled and humiliated Kyle, and were later ashamed to realize that he was a wonderful person, honest and brave.
3. A kind word can change a life. Derek’s compassion and kindness changed Kyle’s life. One small gesture of kindness costs nothing and can transform a person’s life.
The kind of story I want to share with my children.
Very educative article, continue giving us more articles of this nature