On a freezing-cold February morning in Indiana, Jhaqueil Reagan, 18, left home to walk to a job interview—ten miles away, over slush-covered roads.
Reagan had been looking for work for months. His mother had died two years earlier, and he was the sole caretaker of his two younger siblings, Cole, 16, and Jazzlyn, seven. He was desperate for a regular paycheck after mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs.
Three hours into his trek, Reagan had covered only three miles. He paused outside a Cajun restaurant called Papa Roux to ask for directions from owner Art Bouvier, who was clearing ice and snow from the parking lot.
“I told him to get on the bus,” says Bouvier. “He thanked me and went on his way.”
Fifteen minutes later, Bouvier pulled up in his car beside Reagan as he walked along.
“You’ve really got to be on the bus,” he told Reagan.
“I don’t have money for the bus,” Reagan replied. Bouvier offered him a lift. On the way, he asked the boy about his job search.
“I thought, This is the kind of kid I want working for me,” says Bouvier. He got the teen’s phone number and dropped him off for his interview.
Later that day, Bouvier wrote about Reagan on Facebook. “He doesn’t know it yet, but he starts on Monday,” Bouvier wrote. “It’s been a while since I’ve met someone so young with a work ethic like that!”
A few hours later, Bouvier called to offer Reagan a job. Shocked, the teen accepted on the spot. A television reporter caught wind of the story and interviewed the pair on camera that night.
Today, Reagan is washing dishes, filling orders, and greeting Papa Roux customers for $8.50 an hour.
The publicity has brought in so many new customers that Bouvier plans to open a second restaurant by the end of the year. Reagan has earned enough money to move into a new apartment.
Now, when the weather is bad, he takes the bus to work. “I like greeting people with a smile on my face,” he says.