Dusk engulfed the city. Pedestrians no longer filled the sidewalks. Buses ran only on the hour. A young lawyer left his office late and headed for the parking garage. As he rounded a corner, from behind him a young man in tattered clothes struck him between the shoulders knocking him off his feet.
“Give me your wallet,” the young man said.
As the lawyer tried to get to his feet, the robber kicked him.
“Stay down. Get your wallet out of your pocket and throw it to me.”
The young lawyer obeyed. He struggled to get the billfold out of his pocket and tossed it toward the thief, who bent forward to pick it up from the sidewalk.
At that moment a thin, haggard man approached gruffly calling the thief by name.
“Carlos, move away and do it quickly,” said the second man.
An expression of disdain fell over the countenance of the young man, Carlos, as the second man stood his ground. Carlos stepped back glancing down at the wallet still on the pavement.
The first man gave the lawyer one last contemptuous glare as he ran into the shadows.
Now the lawyer hesitantly looked at his wallet expecting the second man to grab it and run. The second man bent down, picked up the wallet, and handed it to the lawyer.
“I apologize for Carlos,” the second man said. “He’s my nephew. We’re homeless. We have no food, and Carlos hasn’t learned how to live this way yet.”
The lawyer stood up on his feet and looked at the second man with suspicion.
“I’m sorry to hear that you’re homeless,” the lawyer said. “Thank you for coming to my rescue, sir.”
“My name is Reggio,” replied the man. “I hope my nephew will learn from this. I cannot follow him around all the time.”
Reggio smiled and said goodbye to the lawyer. He turned and rounded the corner, now out of the lawyer’s view.
The lawyer continued his trek to his auto parked in the garage. As he drove toward his home, he thought of what Reggio had said about Carlos, that he hadn’t yet learned how to live this way. He thought about what that statement meant, not only how to live, but how to live homeless, penniless, and lonely.
Reggio, too, was hungry. He’d prayed that God would supply his needs and those of Carlos and the others that congregated together under the bridge. Reggio had not been homeless all his life. The economic recession had taken a toll on many people. He wasn’t the only homeless person that once had been a working man with a family. The severity of the economic downturn over time had caused friction between him and his wife, and she had taken their two children and moved in with her parents. Reggio, well, he had joined the group under the bridge.
A downtown church operated a food kitchen where many homeless people gathered for dinner once a week on Thursdays. They served hot food in the kitchen and opened a shelter overnight during extreme inclement weather. Reggio, Carlos and the others walked from the bridge to the church every Thursday. This night there was a guest speaker prepared to make a presentation to the homeless diners.
“What’s it all about?” Reggio asked one of the servers as he waited for his bowl of soup and dinner roll.
“Look over there. See the display?” the server pointed across the dining room.
Reggio looked. In bold letters a banner said, “Sign up for a Jobs and More Jobs. Many openings available.”
“A law firm in this city has started a charitable organization that pays businesses to train and hire unskilled workers,” the server said.
Reggio took his food and moved down the line for a dessert.
During dinner a speaker stood on a platform with a microphone. Reggio thought the man looked familiar. He left his seat to walk closer to the platform. Sure enough, the speaker was the lawyer he had rescued from Carlos.
As the lawyer was about to introduce himself to the crowd, he saw Reggio approaching the platform.
“First, before I begin tonight, I would like to introduce to all of you a special person,” the lawyer said, pointing at Reggio while gesturing for him to come forward.
Reggio hesitantly continued toward the front.
“Yes, Reggio, please step up here. My name is Ron Latford.”
Reggio joined him on the platform.
“I want to introduce to you the man responsible for this new job program sponsored by the law firm of Latford and Borgon. An act of kindness performed by this man, Reggio, inspired the creation of Jobs and More Jobs.
Reggio beamed and looked straight into the eyes of his nephew Carlos. He’d been telling Carlos that God would provide jobs and things would be getting better if he would just wait patiently.
The smile on his nephew’s face was all the acclaim that Reggio wanted, but, of course, the house full of homeless people from all over the city applauded Reggio.
Ron Latford shook hands with Reggio and proclaimed for all to hear, “It’s amazing what one act of kindness can bring about.”
Carol Ann Hoel © 8/7/2010