It was the middle of my work week and lunch time was upon me. In and Out Burger as always sounded amazing so i found my closest In And Out and pulled off the freeway. I decided to use the drive thru that way i could sit in the shade with the radio on and AC blasting while i grubbed down on this Burger.

The parking lot was full of people already. In my area this In And Out like most gets busy . Cars were all over and parking is always a pain. I parked my truck in the shade and watched the rat race for lunch unfold. Sitting in my truck i noticed a few pan handlers asking for money as people went in or came out. Most people would speed up to pass them by or turn away right as the person would ask for money. I watched as they eventually got tired of asking and walked off then sat in the shade where it was cool. As i sat in my truck and watched and wondered what caused these people to get to this point in their lives? Compassion is a tough thing to have for another person when you don’t know the back story . I can’t count the number of times i walked by a pan handlers or gave them dirty looks as they would approach. When i was in high school a young and ignorant punk kid i remember a time when i verbally said to a grown man asking for money to GET A JOB, i now cringe at the thought of admitting that.

As i sat eating my lunch and wondering all of this i could see a man off in the distance holding a windex bottle in one hand and a towel over his left shoulder. He was wearing old and dirty blue jeans with a horizontal brown and white striped polo shirt. I would guess him to be around 5’7″ and in what should be retirement years. A young women was getting out of her car and this man approached with a huge smile and honest eyes. I couldn’t hear what he asked but i was assuming it was can i wash your windows? The women seemed immediately annoyed and bothered she shook her head shut her car door and walked away.  A full size silver Chevy pickup pulling out from a parking stall, he stood off to the driver side window and asked the man if he could wash his windows? The man didn’t even respond and just drove off. While i finished my meal i sat and thought about the multiple pan handlers before him that wanted something for nothing and here this man is trying to work and yet i watch multiple people run from him like he has some sort of disease. He approached 15-20 people with a smile and non threatening and every one of them just blew him off .

At this point i felt overcome with the emotion to make it known that his efforts would not go unknown. I can be a pro at over analyzing situations but i grabbed my wallet and before i knew it i was in the middle of the parking lot standing face to face with this man. Before he could say a word i told him a man willing to work deserves to get paid as i handed the remainder $5.00 left over from lunch. He immediately said thank you and asked “Please let me wash your windows for the money”. I just washed my truck the day before so i said my truck is clean but i appreciate the offer. The man shook my hand and asked “i must do something for you , what can i do? I first thought in my head this man has nothing that i need or want so i responded Nothing please take the money and have a great day. “Please” he responded. I thought some more than replied you can tell me your story. His eyes lit up and he didn’t hesitate to start.

“Well things were good when i lived in Nevada he sighed . I worked for a Plastic molding and manufacturing company”. Since i knew nothing of that industry i asked what products did you make? He went on and on about how they get plastic pellets, melt them down and had molds for car bumpers , small parts ect. They would take different heat tempering to get some things flexible and some things hard. ” Me and multiple workers were blindsided finding out the company we worked for was moving to China for cheaper labor. i was told that i could move to china and keep my job or lose my job and stay in Nevada. I had my house on 5 acres and my life was going they way i wanted and i didn’t want to leave. I’m 62 and most companies don’t want to hire a 62 year old man. I worked some odd jobs but ended up losing my house and property. I Had friends in California so decided to move out and be with them. Once i arrived in California the loss of my Job and house i became depressed so i turned to drugs and alcohol. I QUIT caring altogether, Sleeping on friends couches with no drive to push past my failures i was beat. One day i woke up and decided that i had to change”.

“I must give to get.” I starting doing odd jobs and washing windows is part of that. I had to begin believing that my life could get better and that i had to start by doing something”.

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we finished our conversation I realized that i have been sitting here talking to this man for 30-45 minutes and didn’t even know his name. I reached out my hand and asked whats your name sir? You can call me EARL he said with an ear to ear smile. Shaking his hand i said i appreciate your time Earl and it was a pleasure to meet you. I wish you all the best in the future.  He looked dead at me and said “God bless you”. I turned and started to walk back to my truck almost overcome with emotion i may have given Earl money but the sincere and honest story and knowledge i got was more valuable. The moment i shut my door i grabbed my journal and wrote what you are reading today.


I challenge you to look at upcoming situations and people from an abnormal place. Be aware that everyone has a story and unless you know the story we pre judge and assume we know the person. Open yourself to be different and remember what Earl said “you must give to get”

Recently i heard a story by Stephen Covey the author. It goes perfect with Earl so i will share it.

Stephen Covey just got on a train and sat down. 2 little boys come blazing into the train running wild, as the father followed shortly after. The kids were bouncing off the walls running up and down the train. Stephen said he thought how could the father just let his kids run wild and not say anything? The madness continued and finally Stephen could not take it any longer. He said to the father ” Can you rein them in?  “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it,” the distraught father replied. “We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

John Krum