A single dad of three encountered a stranger at a gas station who had forgotten his wallet and needed it urgently. The dad offered his last $2 and returned to his children, only to receive a call the next day with the surprise of his life.
Sean knew that many people worldwide had worse lives than he did. However, today he was feeling discouraged. He was a single father of three kids who had just lost their mother to cancer. Immediately after, they lost their house because he had to sell it to pay the medical bills, and he lost his job due to too many absences and tardiness he acquired in taking care of his wife while she was sick.
Unable to afford to rent an apartment in Oakland, he decided to live in the local tent city with his kids. It was terrible. He never imagined what his life would become, and every day felt worse than the previous one, without a job to help see him through.
Sean could only work in the mornings while his kids went to school, and part-time work in an expensive city like Oakland was not enough. Additionally, he was still paying off some debts. A kind woman who lived in the tent next to them offered to watch the kids for an hour after school, but that was not enough.
Sean needed to find employment that would allow him to take the kids with him or offer him more flexibility. But everything felt hopeless now, so he just continued with his daily life, earning barely enough money to feed his kids. He often skipped meals to be able to give them more.
Today was a bit different. He got out of work and went to the nearest gas station. He had an extra $2, enough to buy himself a cheap hot dog before picking his children up from school. It was a little treat he would give himself, and although it made him feel a bit guilty, he still wanted to do it.
As he walked toward the gas station, he saw a man panicking next to a kid.
“Sweetie, calm down! I’ll fix this!” he heard the man telling a woman in the passenger seat, and Sean wondered why they were so agitated. But it wasn’t his business, so he continued walking until the man called out to him.
“Sir! Sir!” the man hollered and ran toward Sean.
“Yes? Is everything ok?” he asked, confused.
“Sir, I’m so sorry to ask, but my wife is in labor, and we’re out of gas. I left my wallet and phone at home as we were rushing out of the house. Is there any way you can help me?” the man asked. His desperate eyes pulled at Sean’s heartstrings.
He pursed his lips, and his brow furrowed. “Well, sir. I only have $2, but you can have it,” Sean finally said, reaching into his pocket and producing the bills.
“Thank you! Thank you! That works. I had a few coins in the car, but I can fill up a gallon and reach the hospital with that.” The man took the bills with all the gratitude in the world. “I’m Matthew. Please give me your contact information so I can pay you back.”
Sean shook his head. “There’s no need. Really. I only hope your wife and baby get to the hospital safely.” He smiled.
“No, please. I insist,” Matthew continued.
“Alright. I’m Sean,” he responded and gave him his number.
He watched as Matthew filled up what he could in his car and rushed out of the gas station. They must have had an empty tank if they were so desperate. But that’s what happens when you’re pregnant. Your mind goes crazy, and all that matters is the coming child, Sean thought as he walked away from the gas station.
His belly would remain empty that day, but at least he had done a good deed and helped a new family.
The following morning, it was bright and early, and the sun was shining through the tent. He would be sleeping in a little more if the phone hadn’t started to ring. It was a video call.
“Sean!! Hello!” Matthew cheered with more energy than Sean had at the moment.
“Oh, Matthew,” Sean said groggily, rubbing his eyes.
“Our baby is here! Look!” the happy man said and showed Sean the baby.
“Congratulations!” Sean responded, smiling. His kids had woken up and moved closer to see the camera. The single dad had told them what he did yesterday, and they also congratulated the new father
“Listen, Sean. I need you to come to my office around noon. I have something to tell you,” Matthew said. “Can you make it?”
“Noon? Well, I think so, but I don’t have much time before I have to pick up my kids,” Sean replied, frowning.
“Don’t worry. I don’t need much time from you… today,” Matthew stated cryptically and gave him an address to an office downtown.
“Listen, I want to thank you for what you did yesterday. I could tell that those $2 were all you had that day, and you still gave them away,” Matthew said. They were in his office, and Sean was impressed. He had no idea that the man he helped was the owner of a company. He wondered if he could ask for a job.
“You’re welcome, sir. I’m a father, so I know what going through labor with your wife is like,” Sean said, grinning despite thinking of his late wife.
“Tell me more about your life and your family,” Matthew encouraged. After hesitating for a few seconds, Sean told him everything, including his struggles with his wife’s illness, her death, losing their house, and their current living situation.
“And now, I can only work part-time because I have to watch my kids. We’ve not been approved for some government help, so it’s been crazy, too,” Sean finished, biting his lips.
“You said you managed a company before?”
“Yeah, I was the senior regional manager at my previous job, but I couldn’t keep up when my wife got sick,” he confirmed.
“How about this? Manage this company?” Matthew said matter-of-factly.
“What? I can’t do that. My kids. Look at me. I’m…nothing.”
“We’ll work something out.”
“What kind of management position is it?” Sean asked, intrigued. This offer was more than he could’ve hoped for.
“Actually, I want you to be the new owner. I’m expanding, and I desperately need a partner. We’ll be co-owners. I like your attitude, and I have a great gut feeling about people. What do you say?” Matthew offered, and Sean’s mouth dropped.
“What can I say? I can’t turn down such an offer, but wouldn’t a partner with money be better?” Sean asked, flabbergasted by the entire offer.
“Money…hmmm…you know that a rich man in a luxury Lexus refused to give me just a few dollars for gas before you came along?” Matthew revealed, raising one eyebrow. “A few dollars that wouldn’t have even made a dent in his bank account. But you… you gave me all you had to eat that day. That means more to me than any money some random person could invest. I don’t want new money. I want to add more soul to my business. I want you.”
“Thank you,” Sean said, breathless. He couldn’t believe it, but Matthew smiled and shook his hand.
Soon, he started working, and as one of the new owners, he was allowed to bring his children to the office. He found an excellent apartment for his family soon enough as Matthew gave him an advance of his great salary, and everything seemed to settle.
Afterward, he helped other people in the tent city find better jobs, including the neighbor who often helped him out with the kids.
He was great at his job, and although the pain of his wife’s passing would never go away, he had something to work for. His hope was back, and his children no longer had to live in poverty. Life was good again.
What can we learn from this story?
- People who have nothing are more likely to help others. Unlike another rich man, Sean helped the strange man at the gas station with the few dollars he had to give.
- One good gesture can change your life. Don’t hesitate to offer kindness to people because you never know what can happen.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a homeless man who gave his last $3 to a young woman so she could return home, and she repaid him later.
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