Friday, January 7, 2011

Why do I like the "homeless to job offers" story

There was a man named Ted Williams who had a golden speaking voice.  He got into drugs and alcohol; he fell upon hard times and became homeless.  Then one day he was discovered for his voice and offered many jobs.  He got a haircut and new clothes and was reunited with his mother.
National and international news covered his story.  You tubes popped up and went viral.  People tweeted and re-tweeted about him.  Humanity rejoiced for him and his luck and newfound success.

But then came the analysis.  Tweets, blogs and opinions emerged.  Was he the only man on the planet who had a golden speaking voice?  For God's sake we don't even know if he can sing and obviously he doesn't even shave. Besides, it's not like he has a talent  that will cure cancer or clean the oil spills.  How many other homeless people, maybe even more talented than Ted, are still in the streets?  Don't they deserve a second chance?  It's not like all of a sudden the economic situation was reversed because one man found a job.  We're still in dire times, people.  And what does this say about human compassion?  How many people passed this guy by without offering a hand?  How many of us pass by homeless people sitting in the corners of buildings, sour our faces at their filthy, disgusting appearances, turn our heads and speed by?  Now that this man is out of those conditions, it's fine for us to show compassion and be moved by this heartwarming story? And so on ....  the voices expressed their opinions.

I ask myself why do I find this story heartwarming?  Am I naive or worse, a hypocrite?

The man was down and out.  He could have stayed there for the rest of his miserable life. But something shifted, he transcended his lot.  He was not discovered lying in his tent drinking beer, reciting radio commercials.  No, he made a sign and stood on busy roadsides trying to get attention.  Once he had overcome his addictions, he wanted better and worked for it the only way he knew how.  He took the first step and hoped for the best.  I like that.

Somehow, everything aligned that he was noticed, he was picked up, his voice made it on you tubes and news outlets and job offers came his way.  In this digital age, word gets out faster and spreads further and this is an example of how it can be beneficial on such a small, one person level.  I am sure some of the coverage was for increasing viewership purposes, but still, it helped Ted.  It's good to see something other than what celebrity is in drug rehab get this kind of attention.  I like that.

What I like most is the sense of hope in this story.  It happened for Ted.  First, he woke up and made a sign, then her got lucky.  It can happen to others too even if it is one at a time.

Ted not only had lost his job, succumbed to drugs and become homeless, but he also had deserted his wife and children. "Maybe Williams can redeem himself personally as well as professionally.  Maybe he can be there for his grandchildren in ways he could not for his kids."*

Now we don't know what will happen of 53 year old Ted.  His 90 year old mother has asked him not to disappoint her by going with the wrong crowd and getting in trouble.  I say better late than never.  Take her advice, Ted, and don't waste your second chance.

* Read more:

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