You never know who you may bump into on your way to a given destination. It’s incredible situations like the one below that make one wonder, is there a certain order to this society that we can’t see—but that indeed exists? Call it fate or otherwise, this story has such a wonderful ripple effect. It’s nothing but positive.
Art Bouvier, who runs Papa Roux Po Boys and Cajun Food in Evansville, Indiana, had just walked outside his restaurant during an ice storm when he noticed a teenager trudging along in the snow. The teen asked Bouvier how much further it was to 10th and Sherman.
“I told him it was quite a way away. At least 6 or 7 miles,” Bouvier told WishTV. “I suggested that he would be far better off on the bus then [sic] on foot, especially in all this ice and slush.”
“I can’t afford the bus until I get a job,” Bouvier recalled of the teen’s response. “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.”
Fifteen minutes later, Bouvier got in his car to run an errand and drove in the same direction that the teen was walking. To his surprise, the teenager was still walking along the side of the road.
Bouvier, who was accompanied by his wife in the car, decided to pull over and offer the teen a lift. They got to know each other and learned that the 18-year-old’s name is Jhaquiel Reagan, and that he was off to a job interview at an ice-cream shop.
“I’m thinking to myself, here’s a kid walking almost 10 miles in the ice, slush, and snow for the hope of a job at minimum wage. That’s like the kind of story my parents used to tell. Uphill both ways in the snow,” recalled an impressed Bouvier.
“[He] was waking [sic] from 42nd and Post to an interview at 10th and Sherman. For a potential (but not guaranteed) minimum-wage job. In this weather. Walking, because he couldn’t afford the bus. He had actually planned his time well and the interview was still 2 hours away.”
The minimum wage in Indiana is $7.25 an hour.
Although Bouvier encouraged Reagan with his interview, he had already planned to hire him. He told the young man that he could work at his cajun restaurant, which was only 3 miles from his home, as opposed to the ice-cream shop, which was about 10 miles.
“It’s been a while since I’ve met someone so young with a work ethic like that!” Bouvier said.
Bouvier bought Reagan some lunch prior to his interview, as he had learned he hadn’t eaten all day. Moreover, he discovered that he had dropped out of high school following his mother’s passing a few years prior, as he now has the burden of looking after not only himself but his younger siblings also.
Bouvier can certainly spot a great worker when he sees one. Reagan himself testified to his sincerity and top work ethic by saying, “If I say I am going to be somewhere, I am going to be there,” per Wimp.com.
“I decided I’d hire him,” Bouvier said, as reported by News.com.au. “If you’d do all that to see if you could get a job, you’d do it to keep your job.”
Having met such a great employer, Reagan jumped at the offer to work for Bouvier. Before his first day at work, Reagan said: “My heart is just racing. It’s exciting. It’s exciting to start. I thank him very much. I appreciate it.”
After Bouvier’s post describing his encounter with Reagan took off on social media, the pair were invited as guests on Good Morning America and Fox and Friends to discuss their story.
“I just put on Facebook the story of my encounter with Jhaqueil,” Bouvier said. “I’m no stranger to Facebook. I’ve done feel-good stories … and they never get like this. But this story had gotten nearly 500 likes within 5 minutes.”
After hearing Reagan’s story, Indianapolis’s bus services awarded Reagan one whole year of complimentary bus rides.
Bouvier’s restaurant has also been receiving donations. The pair committed $2,000 in donated funds to start up a foundation to help the unemployed find work.
Now that Reagan has secured himself a stable position in the cajun restaurant, he’s been working with Bouvier on this noble ambition.
“It’s fantastic,” Reagan commented on the charitable initiative. “This foundation that we’re setting up, it’s not just going to benefit me or Papa Roux. It’s also going to benefit underprivileged teens who are looking for jobs.”
The additional donations they receive will go towards helping people with clothing and transportation, in addition to helping these people find work.
“It’s a very dream-big scenario,” says Bouvier, whose restaurant offers police officers a 50 percent discount.
Reagan is enjoying his new job too. “I like meeting new people every day and taking care of customers,” he said. “When I smile at a customer and they smile back, I feel like I’m doing people a service. It’s great, I love it.”