In our society, it’s far too easy to judge someone without ever really knowing the full story.
Simon Childs of Fayette County, Georgia, was catching a quick nap on one of the empty restaurant’s booths in between pulling a double shift at McDonald’s when a customer noticed him. Annoyed, the woman snapped his picture as he slept, uploading it to Facebook with a message about how this was one more reason for her “to leave Fayetteville.”
The woman wrote, “I was in the McDonald’s in the middle of town and I saw this guy sleeping in the booth. I go and tell an employee that someone is asleep in their booth and her response was ‘oh yeah, we know hee hee, it’s ok’ and I said ‘not really but whatever.’”
The tone was no doubt nasty, and while this story might have resulted in a message about minding one’s own business, instead it turned into a lesson on what it really means to be a part of a community. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, people who read the woman’s message felt compelled to ask what made that man so desperate for a place to sleep that he’d choose a McDonald’s restaurant?
This sudden upsurge of compassion was contagious. Soon community members had reached out to the McDonald’s management to inquire about the man in the photo. When they learned the reason that Simon had been caught napping that day, they knew they had to help.
Simon is a single father to an infant, and his mother recently passed away. As he put it, “I’ve been going through a hard time with my mom passing.” When he heard that his picture had been taken without his consent and uploaded in a form of public shaming, he admits that it made him feel terrible. “It kind of hurt to see my picture up there, you know? I thought it was something negative and nobody would care about it.”
But the opposite happened. Soon people were donating everything they could think of to help Simon out, from baby diapers to a haircut, a borrowed car to get to interviews in, and hotel rooms. Local businesses reached out to offer him a job and the entire community rallied to get this young father back up on his feet.
Instead of pointing and laughing or showing disdain, his neighbors showed him love, empathy, and compassion. “They changed my life in a couple of days,” Simon said. “I didn’t think the community would even care enough to do that, but they care.”
As for whether Simon has hard feelings toward the woman who taunted him online, the answer is no. “I’m not homeless, not now, thanks to her,” he said.
We are so happy that Simon’s community stepped up in such an amazing way, especially in light of the negative way his situation was brought to their attention. It just goes to show that it’s easy to judge, but if you try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes you might just find that a little compassion goes a long way.
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