Job Hunting on Chicago’s El Train

April 10, 2013

He was a tall, stout man, and he put his neat, brown bag on the seat in front of me with purpose and cleared his throat. I paid attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, “I am here because I am an ex-offender and I need a job. If there is anyone who could find it in their hearts to help me out, I would be most grateful.

“In my bag to my left, I have brought my resume. I am trying to save money to study at DePaul University. If anyone would like to see my resume, I will be glad to give it to you.

“I don’t steal from anyone, I don’t rob, I am an ex-offender, and I am looking for a job. If there is anyone who would find it in their hearts to give me a dollar, or a quarter, or a dime, I would be most grateful. Thank you.”

He was tall, and proud, and he stood still, observing the seated passengers, and the train rumbled on, and my eyes burned.

A person’s arm reached up, a dollar bill fluttering from between his fingers. The tall man moved towards it.

“Good luck,” I gulped. I wasn’t sure he’d heard me in the commotion. “Good luck,” I repeated. Why did it matter if he’d heard me?

“Thank you,” he replied.

Further Reading:
The Prison Problem (Harvard Magazine)

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