A homeless man witnesses a young woman with a crying baby being thrown out of a bakery. He finds out her story and gives his last few dollars to her so she could get home. Someone unexpectedly witnesses his generous act and offers to change the man’s life.
Samuel rattled the few coins inside his begging cup. Sadly, not many people traversed the streets now that winter was starting. It was freezing in Minnesota, and not everyone had spare change for the homeless. It was his life. He had to deal with it.
He didn’t expect everyone to give to charity, but a few cents meant so much to Samuel, especially these days. He had collected $2, enough to buy a cup of tea and a cheap scone at the nearby bakery. Sometimes, the owner offered day-old bread for almost nothing, which was nice of him.
Samuel walked over to the bakery to get as much from the money he collected. However, what he saw there stopped him in his tracks.
“Please, I need some money. I have to get home!” a young woman pleaded with a man in an apron who was pushing her out of the restaurant.
The day he moved in, he went to work happier than ever, and that’s when he saw a familiar face.
“Get out of here! This isn’t a charity! This is a store. You need money to buy things. And that baby is disrupting all my REAL customers. Please, go away before I call the police!” the man in the apron yelled, pointing his finger down the street so the lady would go.
Samuel recognized the bakery worker. He had seen him before and had always ignored him. Usually, someone else – an older man – gave him whatever he ordered and offered the free day-old bread.
How could anyone do that? The young woman was holding a crying baby in her arms, and she was clearly distressed about something, Samuel thought and pursed his lips. Usually, people hated it when he approached them, but he wanted to know if he could help the woman.
“Lady, are you alright? What happened?” he asked as he approached the woman.
“Oh.” She was slightly startled as she swayed her baby back and forth. “It’s terrible. I just got mugged! They took my purse and everything while I was breastfeeding my baby over at that bench. How could this happen? This is a safe town!”
“It’s not that safe,” Samuel grimaced.
“Well, you’re right about that. But anyway, they took my bus card, and I have no way of returning home. My apartment is blocks away, and I can’t walk that far. I wished I had brought my baby’s stroller, but I was only supposed to run a few errands. I thought it would be a nuisance,” she explained, frustrated. “Oh, look at me. I’m rambling. Anyway, I went in here to see if anyone could give me some change for the bus, but I got kicked out.”
Samuel looked at the lady whose forehead was full of sweat despite the cold and seemed desperate to get her baby home. He thought about the few bucks he had collected and knew he would have to go hungry the rest of the day, but this was the right thing to do.
“Here,” he said, lifting his plastic cup and offering it to her.
“What?” she asked and looked inside only to shake her head. “Oh, no. I can’t do that. You need it more than I do.”
“Please, take it. Get that baby home. I bet he’s cold, and that’s why he’s crying,” Samuel insisted, pushing the cup into her hands.
“How can I ever repay you?” she wondered. “I’m Zara, by the way.”
“I’m Samuel. Nice to meet you. I hope that’s enough to help you get home.” Samuel smiled and said goodbye as the young mother walked toward the bus stop.
A few minutes later, a bus arrived, and Zara got in. She sat by the window and waved Samuel goodbye. He did the same, trying to keep his tight grin in place, although he was not happy about going hungry. He looked at his feet and sighed, feeling the weight of another day of hunger in his entire being. But someone interrupted his dark thoughts.
“That was very kind,” a voice said. Samuel turned to see a familiar man. He was the man who usually worked behind the counter at the bakery.
“Oh, hello, sir. It was nothing. Anyone would try to help a young mother in need,” the beggar replied shyly.
“My son wouldn’t, as I just witnessed.”
“I was parking my car when I saw my son kicking that woman out of my store, and I was about to reprimand him and help her when you stepped up. You gave her all your remaining money, didn’t you? That’s something I admire,” the man stated calmly.
“It was nothing. Only $2,” Samuel revealed, looking down.
“I’ve seen you before, but I think we haven’t really met. I’m Robert or, if you prefer, Mr. Baker.”
A small laugh escaped Samuel. “Your last name is Baker, and you own a bakery?”
“Yeah,” Mr. Baker laughed too. “Actually, I started one because of that! I always thought it would be funny. But what’s not funny is what my son did. That’s not the way you treat people, and I didn’t raise him to be like that. So I’m going in there to fire him. Do you want to work for me instead?”
“Sir, I don’t want you firing your son over me. But I do want to work for you if there’s any other opening,” Samuel stated, worried.
“Don’t worry. I’m not terminating him for you. It’s just that my son… he’s not made for this. He’s not the person I want running my place. So, when can you start?” Mr. Baker asked.
“Right now?” offered Samuel.
Samuel received an apron and started working right away. He was assigned some cleaning tasks at first, and he didn’t know what happened exactly with Mr. Baker and his son, but he heard yelling from the back office. Luckily, it seemed that other employees didn’t like the young man either, so no one was surprised he was relieved of his duties.
Samuel worked as hard as possible, and that same night, Mr. Baker offered him a place to stay in the storage room. The homeless man agreed immediately, and the older man set up a cot for him.
He took as many shifts as possible, and under Mr. Baker’s guidance, he learned more and more about bread until he was allowed to work with the expert bakers in the back.
Everything he did was meticulous and efficiently done. He invented some new buns and biscuits, so more customers came. Eventually, he told Mr. Baker about the idea of a hanging coffee, where people would pay for a coffee in advance, and those who couldn’t afford it could still enjoy a cup. Many clients thought it was a fantastic initiative.
By the end of the month, Samuel had enough to rent a small apartment nearby as it didn’t require a huge deposit. The day he moved in, he went to work happier than ever, and that’s when he saw a familiar face.
It was the young mother with her baby in a stroller this time. She smiled as she entered the bakery and recognized his face. He was working the register while Mr. Baker was running an errand.
“Samuel? Is that you? You’re working here?” Zara asked, delighted.
“Yeah,” he nodded, and explained what happened when Zara took the bus that day.
“That’s wonderful!” she cheered.
“Well, what would you like?” he asked and let her browse through their selection.
Since then, Zara started coming over constantly, mainly because Mr. Baker’s son was never around. She always paid for a hanging coffee, saying that it was her way of repaying Samuel for his kindness.
“We all need a little help sometimes, right?” she told him when she was about to leave one day. Samuel only smiled at her and went back to work.
What can we learn from this story?
Great things can happen from small acts of kindness. Samuel’s little act of kindness and generosity towards a mother and her child desperate to get home resulted in a job opportunity that afforded him a permanent home.
Serve people, not money. Mr. Baker knew that to grow a business, one must first be kind to its customers.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a homeless man who used his last few dollars to help a girl get home, and she repaid him many times over.
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