"When I was a kid," your grandparents may have told you whilst they bounced your younger self on their knees, "I had to walk 10 miles in the snow to school, both ways!"
Maybe it was true, maybe it wasn't, but your grandparents would probably like Jhaquiel Reagan.
Reagan, 18, had fallen on some dark times: His mother died two years ago, and Reagan had to quit high school to get a job and support his siblings. The Indianapolis teen eventually earned his GED, but work was spotty. When he found a job opening at a local thrift store, he knew he had to try for it. The only problem? The store was 10 miles from his house, and he didn't have any money for the bus.
Indiana in February isn't really the ideal climate for a 10-mile stroll, especially when the streets are covered in snow and ice, but Reagan budgeted his time and set out more than two hours before his interview. Along his route, he stopped to ask a man how far it was to his destination. Art Bouvier, owner of Papa Roux Cajun Cooking, was shoveling snow when Reagan approached him, and Bouvier says he couldn't believe the young man's plan.
"I told him it was quite a way away," Bouvier wrote on Facebook. "At least 6 or 7 miles. I suggested that he would be far better off on the bus than on foot, especially in all this ice and slush. He thanked me and continued on. He could have asked me for money for a bus. In fact I quite expected him to. He didn't. He just started walking."
That could have been the end of the story, but by chance, while Bouvier was driving a while later, he spotted Reagan again. Bouvier pulled over, let Reagan in, and the two started to talk. Reagan told him about his mother, his job prospects, his lack of transportation. Bouvier was so moved, he offered the young man money for lunch and took down his contact information.
Bouvier shared his account on Facebook, and the story took off. Thousands chimed in to commend Reagan and offer assistance. Bouvier himself planned to surprise Reagan with an even better deal: A job at his restaurant, closer to home, with better pay.
When Reagan got the offer, it was his turn to be blown away. "It’s crazy. I don’t even know. It’s really crazy,” Reagan told HLN affiliate WXIN. “My heart’s just racing right now. I’m just too excited, just excited to start.” There won't be any more icy commutes, either. After the story got out, IndyGo offered Reagan a year's worth of free bus passes.
Hard work. Determination. A kind stranger. Isn't this just the best?
"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," Bouvier wrote on Facebook, "I hope to be able to introduce them to Jhaquiel."