The old man walked in and looked around. He was dressed simply, clothes too plain to warrant anyone’s respect in this fancy place. When he asked for help, his southern accent was thick and he sounded unimpressive. A security guard rushed over and abruptly steered him out of the showroom.
Sniggering and degrading comments about his appearance followed the old man out. Josh had no idea who he was but he would soon find out and regret his actions.
He Was A Hero
As a veteran of the Vietnam war, Robert Jack had often been treated with disrespect. After sacrificing so much for his country and suffering ongoing PTSD as a result, Robert faced daily struggles. After settling down with his wife, Katie, Robert finally found some peace and happiness.
In his retirement years, he now faced a new set of challenges. He had overcome a lot but wondered if he still had the resilience to keep fighting through every obstacle.
Partners For Life
Robert and Katie met in high school and had been together ever since. They had faced enormous struggles when Robert went off to war. It was decades later but the family now faced fresh obstacles. Robert had been feeling full of despair recently.
After years of dedication and patience, he had recently found a small sense of purpose again. With his trusty bag in tow, Robert entered a fancy car dealership and immediately drew rude stares and whispers from the sales staff. It was clear that he didn’t belong here.
That day, the dealership was having an unusually slow morning. But by this point, the sales employees had gotten used to this phenomenon and they were not concerned at all.
The staff had always been told to identify customers that looked like they could afford to buy any of the cars on display. Most people were there to look at the expensive cars without having any intentions or means to buy any of the cars. Because of this, they noticed the old man and they were quick to label him a visitor who couldn’t afford any of their cars. But was this the right call?
The managers had a lot of experience which meant they had a trained eye, they could easily recognize a potential buyer when they saw one. So when the dealership’s doors opened and the hunch-over old man with the small canvas bag came walking in, they immediately lost interest in him.
He was certainly not there to buy a car, they all thought. Maybe he got confused, he must’ve thought it was a supermarket or something.
But the salespeople were surprised to see the old man’s peculiar behavior. He walked up to the front desk and politely asked the receptionist to watch his bag, which she carefully placed on the floor.
The old man carefully examined every car that was parked in the exhibition hall. He was dressed in a shabby cowboy shirt, loose-fitting pants, and an old hat that looked quite undermining. One of the salesmen carefully watched the old man, he wasn’t even attempting to hide his malicious smile. He didn’t want to wait any longer before approaching the old man.
He was sure that the old man had no money and that he was probably out of his mind. He assumed the man had only come in to admire the expensive cars.
He meticulously examined each car before he finally settled on the most expensive one. He turned to the salesman, asking him about the engine capacity and if he could take it for a test drive. That was when the salesman visibly recoiled in disgust.
Reserved For Someone Else
The salesman was tired of watching the old man, so he decided to walk up to him and explained in an angry voice that the price of the car had increased and that they had reserved it for someone else.
But, there was still a price tag on the vehicle, which the old man noticed. Surely that meant that the car was still for sale, right? The salesman then suggested that the old man use car rental services. But Robert wasn’t about to budge.
As soon as the salesman suggested a rental place, the rest of the staff laughed. The only person who wasn’t laughing was Richard, a man who had recently started working there.
He was the only employee who felt sorry for the old man who felt like a lamb surrounded by a flock of evil hyenas. Richard couldn’t tolerate the salesman’s behavior and stepped closer, suggesting that the man should get to see the car.
Can’t Afford It
But the rude salesman wasn’t having any of it. In the meantime, the old man kept standing in place, quietly waiting to get access to the car’s interior.
“Look, this car is $200,000. I don’t see how you’d be able to afford it,” the salesman said rudely, looking Robert up and down with disgust. “If I let you test drive it, it will just be a huge waste of my time!”
A Calm Response
Robert was shocked to be treated this way, but, sadly, he was also used to it. He calmly stood and said, “How do you know I can’t afford it?” Then, he calmly asked to test drive the car again.
The salesman was growing visibly frustrated now. He pointed to the “Right of Admission Reserved” sign above the reception desk. But Robert refused to budge.
Asking Him To Leave
“I have been in this business for a long time,” the salesman spat.” I can spot a time-waster from a mile away. The way you’re dressed tells me that you could never afford this car. I’m going to ask you to leave. now”
However, the angry salesman called security instead, who escorted the strange Robert to the exit. The salesman was glad he got rid of the old man. But that wasn’t actually the case.
Even though he was used to it, the unjust treatment almost brought him to tears. Hunched over, he began to walk away. At that same moment, the leadership administrator saw the bag left behind by the old man.
Unwilling to touch the grubby satchel, she used her foot to push it towards the door. The other employees laughed when they saw it, but Richard wasn’t even smiling.
Adding Insult To Injury
Just then, a woman and a little girl walked in. She gave Robert a wide berth as she passed him through the doorway.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, she leaned down and pretend-whispered something to her daughter: “This is why you have to stay in school. Otherwise, you’ll end up poor and dirty like him.” The entire floor erupted with laughter.
The Last Straw
Robert froze. That was it. He had been very patient and understanding – not just then, but so many times before. He wasn’t going to stay quiet anymore.
“Excuse me,” he said, trying to make his posture as unthreatening as possible as he looked straight into everyone’s eyes one by one. “But I couldn’t help hearing what you said to your daughter.”
Not Staying Quiet
Robert had brushed off so many rude moments before because it wasn’t worth the effort of fighting back. But this time, he wasn’t going to stay quiet.
This was going to be a life lesson that nobody in the car dealership would forget. “Being poor doesn’t mean someone deserves to be talked about that way,” he said assertively. But his next words made everyone’s eyes widen.
A Hard-Working Man
“I’m in construction,” Robert said. “But I’m a very dirty, very educated man.” He explained how not only did he have a college degree, but he also had a few medical certificates.
“Even though I’m old, I haven’t been able to retire because I have to pay my wife’s medical bills,” Robert said. “Shame on all of you!” But he wasn’t done.
Opening The Bag
“Assuming that I’m uneducated and poor just because of my appearance is pure ignorance. But, even if I was poor, unemployed, or homeless, you don’t get the right to judge me.”
Robert angrily swooped to grab his bag off the floor. He opened it and briefly flashed its contents to the room. Everyone, including the rude salesman, was completely dumbfounded.
Scrambling After Him
With that, Robert turned to walk out. The salesman, seeing the commission he could have earned off the car in his mind, scrambled to try and convince him to make the sale.
Now, they were all trying to fawn over him and apologize. Robert smirked. He had had enough though, so he took his bag and walked straight out the door.
The young salesman, Richard, went after him. Luckily, the elderly man hadn’t gotten far. Embarrassed, he apologized profusely for his colleagues’ appalling behavior.
The old man knew that Richard hadn’t been part of any of it. He just smirked and opened his bag to show the contents to the young salesman. Richard couldn’t believe his eyes.
The old man was mistaken for a homeless person, but there were bundles of 100-dollar bills inside his bag. Richard was intrigued and looked questioningly at Robert.
The old man coughed and closed his bag. He then began his story. He introduced himself to the nice young salesman and proceeded to tell the tale of his lifetime. Richard was left speechless.
Robert told Richard that he’d worked hard all his life. Even though he was getting on in years, he still worked with his own hands.
He had just come from a construction site – that was why he looked dirty and poor. Although he had earned good money, he hadn’t been able to retire because he had to look after his wife, Katie.
Robert explained that his wife had been fighting cancer for several years and seemed to be losing the fight.
Even though Robert and Katie hadn’t been poor by any means, the high cost of her chemotherapy over the years had almost bankrupted them. He had managed to keep them afloat, But that wasn’t enough. Robert wanted to do more for his wife.
Realizing that the treatment wasn’t helping Katie anymore, Richard decided to fulfill his wife’s wish and buy her the car she’s always dreamed of driving. But he had to do it while she still had her mobility.
Unfortunately, by the time he had managed to save up enough money, the price of the car had increased substantially. He did not have enough money to buy the car he wanted.
Robert, determined to do this one last thing for his wife, sold all his possessions – including his gold wedding band. The last time Katie had seen the oncologist, he’d predicted that she only had around twelve more months to live.
Robert was shattered. Although he barely had any money or possessions left now, what good would they do if his wife wouldn’t be with him anyway? But he had just learned that he was still short $5,000.
A Salesman’s Resolve
When Richard found out how much money Robert needed, he got to thinking of a way to help. Richard knew that the car dealership could hardly afford such a discount.
After escorting the old man, Richard went back to work. He couldn’t shake his thoughts of the old man and Katie’s dream. Later that evening, the young salesman found himself at the old man’s door. What could he have wanted?
The Help He Needed
Holding a bundle of cash in his hand, the young salesman told Robert that he had brought the cash he needed. He told him to buy his wife the car.
Since he’d be the one selling Robert the car, he’d take the $5,000 from his commission. He quickly turned away and left before seeing the old man tear up.
The next day, Robert returned to the dealership. The salespeople could not understand how he could have changed so drastically.
The old man was now wearing his business suit, and he was carrying the same canvas bag. The rude salesman, thinking he’d gotten a second chance, started fawning over him, even begging for him to buy the car. “No,” said Robert. “I want to work with Richard.”
Inside The Bag
The old man opened the bag and showed everyone the piles of money he had. The previously rude salesman was furious when Richard stepped out of his office.
Robert didn’t hesitate and bought the car on the spot. He signed the paperwork with Richard, who would get the money he had given him back from the commission he deserved. Although it wasn’t the full amount, he was happy that he had helped Katie fulfill one of her dreams.
Fulfilling Her Dream
Everyone at the dealership was green with envy – for missing out on the commission for the sale and because the man they’d treated badly could buy such an expensive car. Robert went home, he took his wife by the hand, and led her out into the street, gesturing at her dream car. Katie was overwhelmed with joy. Finally, her lifetime dream had been fulfilled.
But Robert’s story isn’t the only one that teaches us not to judge a book by its cover. One woman was horrified when she learned who the homeless man she saw every day really was.
She looked down at the stained note crumpled in her hands. He had given it to her in a rush, something definitely wasn’t right. He had acted differently today.
As she unfolded the yellow paper she couldn’t believe what it said. To think she had gotten so close to him every day on her way to work or that she had even offered him a simple bite to eat. Her pulse raced like an Olympic runner going for gold as she had to sit down. Her grip on reality was shattered.
Mary Aldrin was a New York-born and raised. She knew that many people didn’t see the city the way she did. Many saw it as a dirty, dangerous place with a growing homeless problem.
But Mary did everything she could to help out others in need to show them that this city wasn’t all that bad, at least not to her. But the next person she would try to help would only be wasted on, she just didn’t know it yet.
She worked in hospitality and owned her very own bakery. It was enough to make ends meet and to support her child – Dominique. But with her daughter’s father out of the picture, it wasn’t always easy.
They had divorced right after she was born and even though the child support cheques came in, she found they didn’t even cover her daughter’s education. But she had no idea that someone important would appear in her life without warning.
A Good Outlook
Mary still kept a good attitude even with the hardships in her life. She knew a lot of people in the city had it worse than her. Recently she noticed a man staring at her as she walked past him every day.
He was clearly homeless but smiled at her through the dirt on his face. She could see a familiar spark in his eyes. Like he had hope even in his position. How could she stay pessimistic when he wasn’t? But she had no idea just who this man really was.
Trying To Talk
Mary walked to walk every day and decided to talk to the man. He seemed friendly enough, but not very talkative. There was a quality about him though, like the kind that she knew him from somewhere.
She chalked it up to his friendly face, which always felt familiar. But she was wrong. If only knew that she should have trusted her gut instinct about where she had seen him before.
An Extra Lunch
Mary knew what she had to do – she decided to pack an extra lunch for the day. One was for her daughter, and one was for the man. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a healthy salad roll with a slice of cheese.
She smiled to herself thinking she was doing the right thing. But she wished she hadn’t tried giving him the lunch bag once she learned the truth about his identity.
Trying To Give It To Him
She spotted him on her way to work and offered him the lunch bag. But without a word, he waved it away. Did he not want to accept this kind gesture?
She didn’t think too much of it while she lay in bed that night. But if only she knew the real reason why he didn’t accept her kind gesture.
This morning Mary was running late for work so she was moving at a busier pace than usual. But as she got to the corner where she saw the cheerful homeless man every day she noticed something different.
He looked gravely concerned about something, almost on the verge of tears. What had happened? Then she saw a scrap of paper in his hand.
He seemed distracted, he was looking around. Were they back again? It was clear that he was being watched, but what was the truth behind it all?
She approached him to ask if he was alright but he wouldn’t say a word. All he did was hand her a crumpled piece of paper and nod. Something clearly wasn’t right and the piece of paper held the answers.
The Rest Of The Day
Mary didn’t want to read the note while she was at work. But the entire day she couldn’t help but look down at her handbag where it was.
Questions raced through her mind. As soon as she got home after work she put her things down and pulled out the piece of paper. But what was written on it would turn her world upside down.
She felt her hands shake as she looked at the note in her hand. What could he have written inside a scrap of paper before handing it to her?
She had only been nice to him, were there things he was hiding that he couldn’t say out loud? Was he being watched?
It turns out that the homeless man was actually Richard Gere! The note explained that he was shooting his new movie and that’s why he was dressed up as a homeless person.
She had no idea that the sweet man she walked past every day and even offered food was worth millions!
Time Out Of Mind
Gere was actually on set being filmed for his role as a homeless man that’s trying to fix his relationship with his daughter. The movie is called Time Out of Mind and is an American Drama.
His get-up must have been very convincing if it fooled Mary and probably many other New Yorkers.
Mary went back to visit Gere after realizing who he really was. She understood that he couldn’t talk much to her because they must have been filming him for the movie. It was now obvious that he didn’t want to waste her precious food on him when he already had so much money.
She just smiled at him and to tell her he knew she knew she gave her a wink back. He had fooled many New Yorkers, but he let her in on the secret because of her kindness.
Mary felt touched and took it to heart. She knew that no one else would have an experience like that, especially with such a well-known actor! And on the set of his movie as well!
She would still see him every time she walked to walk until one day he was gone. Presumably, they had gotten enough shots. She still thinks of him when she walks past that corner every day, with a smile on her face.