I was driving home and noticed a man at the exit holding a sign asking for prayers and food. Although, I travel to Chicago often and I'm used to seeing this, I was caught off guard to find this man at this location. I passed him and turned into the quick shop where I purchased a tall bottle of water, bag of chips, two hotdogs with condiments, peanut butter and cheese crackers. I asked for cash back and headed back for the intersection. With the ramp being one way, I had to loop around to a side parking lot and walk over to the other side of the ramp. I called for him to come over and I just told him that I'm not sure what has happened in his life to put him in this situation, however, I was very sorry and wanted to give him $40.00 and the bag of goodies.
He shook my hand and introduced himself as Dan. Dan went on to explain that he owned his own construction company and due to the economy, he closed a few years ago leaving him with high debt and a brand new diesel truck that he could not afford. His wife, at the time, was a nurse at St. Lukes Hospital and was not able to stay with him, as he was not the same man she married 23 years earlier. She filed for divorce and with the help of her parents, they took everything he had and literally left him on the street.
I stood there on the side of the ramp for several minutes chatting and wondering what I could do to help. I kept thinking how mad my husband will be when I tell him that I stopped and got out. My little voice kept telling me not to offer him a ride or a place to stay. At times, I did not hear what Dan was saying due to my own voice. I asked Dan if he has tried to get a job anywhere and what if there was anything that I could do to help him. With a low hanging head, he replied that when he was 17, he stole money and therefore has a felony on his record. He explained how that really effects potential employers from hiring him. Dan refuses to lie about it as he is sure it will come back and then he would lose his job anyway.
Dan took a flimsy business-like cut out card that had his location where he normally stays at on it. He explained that he owns a guitar and a small amp that he uses during Cardinal, Blues and Rams games downtown to earn money. He was not ashamed to work for his money, rather embarrassed to have to beg for it. I looked at the card and asked him what the address was. He replied that it was a very safe area that he and three other men share, under an overpass in downtown St. Louis. I teared up, I could not help it, I wanted to just hug him, I did not do it though. I asked him if he was interested in getting a job where I may be able to pull a few strings to get him an immediate interview. I told him it was very similar to what he was doing already, however, this would be in a warm green gown and he could "earn" his money and his name back. Getting established again in the work force is the hardest thing you can do and once you do, you will overcome. I asked him if he had every heard of Liberty Tax Service and that I could most likely get him a job as a waver and that we have several locations that could provide him many hours with locations near his preferred living area. I asked him to call me collect by 9:00 the next morning and I'd tell him where to go. He called and said he was at Hwy 79 and needed directions. Oh that was easy, just jump on Hwy 70 to the next exit and I'll meet you there and you can follow me to the office just three blocks down. Dan paused, and said, “Okay, it will take me about 40 minutes to get there as I'm on foot." I told him I'd wait for him and that my window faced the exit ramp he needed to take.
I did not see him, I have not heard from him and the zee did not have anyone come in. I do not feel scammed in anyway, I feel good that I spoke to him and gave him hope and LIBERTY! He knows he can do what he needs and can get back on his feet. For him to call the next day and make the next attempt made me proud of him and I do not even know him. Who knows, maybe he got a job at the gas station he called me from, perhaps he called his ex-wife and they made up or got in a car with someone that was able to provide him more possibilities. The end lesson is that everyone has a story, and if we just take a few minutes to listen to them, perhaps we can help change their life.