What can you buy for six bucks? Not much, right? A fancy coffee, a fast-food meal for one, a pair of socks, a six pack of root beer, maybe a pack of Pokemon cards? Keep thinking about what six dollars can buy….
My “day job” is in Human Resources which includes recruiting. I work in an industry with high turnover, low pay, and a hard, physical job. It is really hard to find quality candidates that are honest, don’t have extensive criminal backgrounds, and employees that will work for the company for more than a few months. Have you ever worked in a job where you felt like you were spinning your wheels?
I’ve done a lot of recruiting at job fairs. It’s strange…one day no one shows up, one day we get a lot of applicants that get hired but then never show up to work, one day we nicknamed “Felony Thursday.” (Practically everyone who applied had a felony, which excludes them from most positions.)
Recently, instead of “Felony Thursday”, it was “Living in a Shelter Tuesday.” Several people I interviewed had no home to call their own. They just wanted to start over, from the bottom. Here’s where my “six dollars” comes into play.
Meet “Mr. H.” Neatly dressed, well-spoken, a firm handshake and eye contact started our conversation. It was my favorite interview I’ve ever done. He talked about growing up on a farm, the hay-bailing labor that he did as a child that he actually remembers fondly. He talked about his relevant 25-year experience. He talked about being a Christian and how it has kept him grateful for every morning that he wakes up. Being in HR, I can’t ask him about his religious beliefs but I did chime in, “me, too” when he said he was a Christian. I couldn’t help it, I’m proud of it. He confirmed he has never received even a parking ticket and he could pass a drug test. At that point, I am so pleased that he walked into the interview. I have found a great match. (Victory!) The next step, I explain, is for him to go to the police station for a copy of his arrest record (hopefully showing nothing) and have it sent to us. I add that there is a $6.00 cost that he is responsible for. (Cue the awkward silence) ……….”Whoa, I better stop you right there, ma’am. I do not have $6.”
I am at a loss. My heart sinks with disappointment and disbelief. He said that he is currently living in a shelter, has enough for bus fare to get the drug test, but cannot come up with the $6. A friend might loan him the money but he won’t see the friend until next week. He adds that his mentor at the shelter said he cannot go around asking for the money.
While he is saying this, I thought to myself that I am SURE I have six dollars. It took everything I had not to just hand over the six dollars. See, I’m a generous, loving, trusting person, but I’ve been burned before by interviewees that lie…to my face. I’ve been made a fool trusting applicants that say they can pass a drug test or say they have no criminal background. Time after time, I’m lied to so it’s made me jaded. So, while Mr. H laments about how he wishes his circumstances were different, and this might just not be the right timing, I am completely torn.
Before I reach for my wallet, he stands up and says he is sure his friend can loan him the money and he will send me his arrest record by the following Monday. Phew. Ok. This is still ok. This is going to work. Maybe he will be able to finally get out of the shelter! I have no idea why he’s there, how long he’s been there, or what his story is. I just know he affected my heart.
Monday comes and goes, nothing. He’s never to be heard from since. What happened? Did he fool me? Or could I have changed his life if I gave him that $6? Could he have been an angel in disguise, testing me to see if I will help? Have you ever thought about that possibility? Or did I do the right thing by not giving money away, not totally sure where he’d spend it?
How do you feel when you come across people in need? Have you been burned? There are so many factors to consider, right? Would it make a difference if your kids were with you at the time? Do you lead by example and give – or assume the worst? This man, Mr. H, really acted like he wanted to work. If only I’d given him the $6, I could have known the answer. Six dollars doesn’t buy much, but it might have bought a new start for this man!
Deuteronomy 15:10 Be sure to give to them without any hesitation. When you do this, the LORD your God will bless you in everything you work for and set out to do.
What would you have done? (Please reply!) And also, how do you heal from a regret like this?