Once upon a time, there was a young man named Jonah who worked 2 jobs and had just gotten into a boarding house. One of Jonah’s jobs was in a kitchen, but the other job was as a sales person. He worked hard to be able to afford his rent, and pay his phone bill, which he always answered very professionally because he also used it for work. He kept gas in his moped and paid off his loan. He was making ends meet and was proud of himself.
One day, Jonah came to work, and his big, corporate bosses were there to check on the store. They got to know Jonah, they liked him, but they sent him home early because his pants were too faded to look professional anymore and told him not to come back to work in those pants. Jonah only had 2 pairs of pants.
I got a phone call because he didn’t know what to do. His check was going to just cover his rent, and if he bought pants, he couldn’t pay his loan. He wore a very difficult size to find, so we came up with a plan. We would go get some black dye, and we would dye his pants! What a great idea! For only $5, Jonah could have 2 pairs of pants that looked brand new!
We went searching for black dye and dyed both pairs of pants in my sink. Jonah loves dogs and cats, so he had a great time playing with my pets and having coffee with my neighborhood friends. When the pants were done, we put them in the dryer and noticed, they were better, but definitely not professional looking yet. It was still an improvement.
Then we both got texts messages at the SAME TIME! Mine was my friend Dory at Walgreens, telling me that our donation bin was full, and Jonah’s was his corporate bosses asking him if he accidentally took the store keys home. We made a plan to drop off the store keys and then pick up the donations. Jonah’s bosses asked him, “What are you doing right now?” He said “Dying my pants for work tomorrow”.
When we arrived at his workplace, both of his big, corporate bosses were standing outside waiting for us. The world is a small place because I knew one of them! He used to live in North Carolina before getting this huge promotion! I told him that the pants came out much better, definitely not perfect, but we could try to dye them again. His bosses were named Larry and Joe, and Larry said, “Come with me”.
We didn’t know what to expect, but Larry and Joe took Jonah to store after store to find pants that were professional and fit him well. Joe and Larry were so impressed with Jonah that they had made a plan, and bought him 3 pairs of pants, which they purchased with their own funds. Then we were whisked off to a tailor to make the pants fit just right. Larry said to me, “This is my purpose in life, to help people. He needs this job, and he’s doing everything he can.” Joe was equally supportive. He said, “We like him and he’s doing a good job. We want him here working with us.”
Then came the BIG SURPRISE, as if we weren’t already vibrating with energy; Larry’s mother is a hair dresser, and had offered to give Jonah an entire professional hair, beard, style make-over! At this point we separated, Jonah to get his hair done, and I went to pick up the donations at Walgreens. About an hour later, my truck was full of donations and Jonah was getting his newly cut hair washed.
I picked up some Jamaican food, because no one had eaten since lunch and it was now 8:30 pm. Jonah emerged from the hairdresser looking like a young, professional salesman and smiled. He looked absolutely amazing. We thanked Larry and Joe for all of their help and headed back to my house to take the faded, re-dyed pants out of the dryer and eat dinner because we were famished. The re-dyed pants are now kitchen pants, and Jonah has 3 pairs of tailored slacks for his sales job.
I cannot tell you how many employment stories I hear that end with “I didn’t have the right shoes/pants/shirt”. This story could have ended the same way, but these big corporate bosses cared. They saw something in Jonah, and they knew, all he needed was just a little thing. Something that about $160 total could solve, which is a fortune when you are just starting out. He needed “the look”, he was already successful in raw material, friendly, kind, and smart. I’ve met many corporate bosses in my day, but I’ve never met any like these, and it gave me life and faith in society. It gave me hope. For Jonah, it gave him a well earned chance.
*Jonah is a pseudonym