For What It’s Worth

Earning his way earns good deed

Stories of people working to earn their way rather than expecting the government to provide for them always strike a chord with me. I encountered such a story back in February and it still comes to mind occasionally.

It was a cold day in February with snow and ice on the ground in Indianapolis from a storm earlier that morning when 18-year-old Jhaqueil Reagan begin walking from his home to go to a job interview. Art Bouvier was laying rock salt outside his restaurant, Papa Roux, when he saw Jhaqueil approaching. The young man approached and asked how far it was to 10th and Sherman. Bouvier told him it was six or seven miles and suggested that the youth would be better off taking a bus instead of walking in the icy conditions and freezing temperature. Jhaqueil said “thank you” and continued on his way.

On his Facebook page, Bouvier wrote that Jhaqueil could have asked for money to take a bus and, in fact, Bouvier thought the teenager would ask. Instead, he just started walking. Bouvier said that 15 minutes later he and his wife were driving down 10th Street to a coffee shop. They saw Jhaqueil walking and stopped to offer him a ride. Once he was in the car, the couple inquired about Jhaqueil’s journey. The young man explained that he was on his way to a thrift shop to interview for a job and did not have money for bus fare.

As the conversation continued, Jhaqueil revealed that his mother had died a couple of years ago and he was left to care for his two younger siblings. He had dropped out of high school, earned his GED and was taking care of his siblings. Now, he was walking 10 miles in freezing temperature to interview for a minimum-wage job and, Bouvier noted, Jhaqueil had planned well enough to allow himself to be on time for the interview.

“We drove him to 10th and Sherman,” Bouvier wrote on FB. “He was extremely thankful and said so. I got his telephone number and told him to keep his interview, but I would see if there was a way to hire him so his daily trek to work would be 3 miles instead of 10. I also asked him if he had eaten today, and he said he hadn’t. I gave him money for lunch and dropped him at the 10th and Sherman Dairy Queen. I think he was in shock.

“So, he doesn’t know yet, but he starts with us on Monday. It’s been a while since I’ve met someone so young with a work ethic like that!”

A news story on the incident reports that Bouvier offered Jhaqueil a job at double the salary he would receive if offered the job at the Thrift Store. Jhaqueil accepted, saying he was excited about what had happened. Many people applauded the teen’s work ethic and Bouvier’s generosity and, in addition, IndyGo, the local public transportation system, gave Jhaqueil a free one-year pass to ride the bus.

Bouvier wrote on his FB page: “And the next time somebody hands me a sob story about needing money for this or that because they really want to make their lives better…I hope to be able to introduce them to Jhaquiel. :-)”

I salute the Jhaquiels of this world. My experience while I was an employer and later a teacher was that too many young people feel entitled to have things and need a stronger work ethic. Jhaquiel was willing to work and earn his way instead of begging or asking for a freebie when he had opportunity to do so. My guess is that over time he will succeed and some day be in a position to help others willing to help themselves.

Mr. Bouvier was a reminder to me that all of us from time to time have opportunity to help someone who may be struggling. We may not be in a position to offer them a job, but we can certainly offer support and encouragement. Let’s hope we do so.

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2 Responses to For What It’s Worth

  1. Cleo Rose says:

    Great story. I wish there were more people with this young man’s attitude.

  2. Harry Hix says:

    I agree. Thanks for being a reader of this blog.

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