Jason walked two and a half hours every day to get to work because he couldn’t afford a new car. After many years, a colleague offered him a ride, and a few days later, a strange woman did the same. Then, she and his colleague gave him the shock of a lifetime. Jason Berry was on his way to work as always. He started working as a janitor at a high school at 25, and almost 20 years had gone by since.
He was now 45 years old. Usually, it would take 40 minutes to drive from his house to the school, but the only car he’d ever owned was his dad’s old Fiat, and it broke down when Jason was 30. Since then, he has walked to work, which takes two and a half hours. It wasn’t so bad; he was used to it by now, although it wasn’t easy on rainy days. He listened to music on a used iPod and considered it his exercise for the day.
It also gave him some time to think about everything in his life and all he’d gone through. At 13, his parents unexpectedly disappeared after taking a trip, and Jason went to live with his aunt and uncle. They were friendly people but already had five kids of their own, so money was already tight when Jason came along. He worked on jobs here and there to afford his things, and he even managed to help out at home, but his teenage years were hard. He began to resent the world and rebelled terribly.
His friends weren’t the best people, and Jason got caught with them during a stupid school prank, and they were all expelled from his school. That’s when he woke up. He was almost 18 at the time, and his hopes of making a better life for himself were gone instantly. He couldn’t do that anymore and found a proper job as a pizza maker. In a storm, when he was finally of age, he moved into his parents’ old house, but since it had been abandoned for years and needed some serious repairs, he also had to pay a mint in inheritance taxes.
So his life seemed even crazier. He had no time to study for his GED and eventually forgot about it. He just read books at night when he wasn’t tired from work. At 25, he accepted a job as a janitor at school because the pizza place where he worked went out of business. It was only a slight pay increase and had few benefits.
The downside was that it was 40 minutes away from his hometown in Alabama. He used his dad’s old car to commute until it broke down five years later. That’s when he started walking two and a half hours to work and two and a half hours back home. He barely had time for anything after such a long commute, but he had no other choice. His job was peaceful, and he liked seeing the kids with all their potential and dreams for the future.
Although he often wished that his life would have been different, it gave him hope. Suddenly, a car stopped beside him. Typically, there weren’t many vehicles driving around because he commuted ridiculously early to get there on time every day, so he was surprised by this turn of events. At first, he thought it might be Mrs. Garrison, the science teacher who stopped by much the same way a few days earlier.
She offered him a ride and asked if his car had broken down. Jason laughed hardly at that statement and told her his vehicle had been dead for 15 years. “Really?” she asked him in marvel. “So you walk to work every day?
How long does it take?” “About two and a half hours,” Jason responded. “What? You can’t be serious,” Mrs. Garrison said in shock.
“I am,” he continued, smiling at the kind teacher who had always treated him as a colleague and never anything less. “That’s insane and remarkable. Of course, you must be in great health then,” she added, laughing breathlessly. “I guess,” Jason replied, not knowing what else to say. It was nice to get a ride to school.
They got to school, and Mrs. Garrison gave him a bright smile. “You can ask me for a ride anytime, at least to a bus stop or something.” “Oh, I’d have to take so many different routes on a bus that it’s such a waste. Also, most of them don’t even get close to my house.
Walking’s much easier,” Jason explained. “But thank you for the offer. I might take you up on it sometime.” Although he said that, he knew he would never ask for such a favor. He didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.
If someone offered, he would accept it, but he wouldn’t make the first move. Some of his other colleagues asked him about the matter that day, and he confirmed his long daily walks. They all marveled at his work ethic, but Jason was glad that they didn’t judge him for not being able to afford a car. Now standing by the road, another person stopped beside him, and it wasn’t Mrs. Garrison.
It was a stranger, a much older woman, but she had the same kind smile as his teaching colleague. “Where are you going, young man?” she asked, rolling down the window as she halted her car beside him on the road. “I’m going to the high school. It’s nearby,” Jason answered, bending to look at the woman directly.
“What a coincidence. I’m going to this school too. Why don’t you come with me?” the woman offered. “Oh no, ma’am.
I couldn’t trouble you like that,” Jason responded, shaking his head but grinning at the woman. “It’s no trouble at all, and you can guide me because it’s actually the first time I’m going there,” the woman insisted. “Well, it’s really easy. You just go down straight through this road, and you’ll find the signs. There’s really no way to miss it,” Jason explained, gesturing towards the street.
“Please come with me. It’ll make me feel better to think I helped someone today. I haven’t done my good deed for the day, please,” alrighty then, Jason finally accepted because he didn’t want to be rude to the kind woman. Also, his feet could use a break. The ride to the school was quiet except for the lady’s music, Chuck Berry.
Jason hummed along and enjoyed the unmistakable sounds of his guitar. “Do you like Chuck Berry?” the older woman asked. “I enjoy his music from time to time. We share the same last name,” Jason replied.
“Hmm,” the woman said, but she was smiling for some reason. “I’ve never seen you at school. Are you applying for a teaching position?” “No, I have some business over there today, and I’m hoping to deliver some great news to someone special,” she answered. Jason nodded, not wanting to pry into her private business.
They drove in quiet peace for the rest of the drive, except when Jason had to guide her through some turns. She could have done this alone. “You can leave me here, please,” Jason indicated, and the woman’s stone. “The parking lot’s right over there. Should be open already, though.
It’s certainly thank you, young man, for everything.” “No, thank you for the ride,” Jason said in return. She smiled up at him from her car window and said, “I hope to see you soon.” “What a kind lady,” he said to himself as he entered the building and went to the janitor’s closet to get ready for the day. His working day was almost finished, and Jason had already decided to change when Mrs.
Garrison came to find him. “Mr. Berry, can you come to the library with me? There’s something we need you for,” she called in a request. “What happened?
Do I need a mop?” he wondered. “You better come and then decide what you need,” she explained and walked away, expecting him to follow. Jason thought her message was odd but went along with her. When they got to the library, Jason saw the principal, Mr.
Garcia, several other teachers, a few students, and surprisingly, the woman who’d given him a ride that day. “What’s going on?” he asked, not knowing whether to smile or worry about his job. Mr. Garcia stepped forward from the crowd and patted his shoulder.
“Nothing’s going on, Mr. Berry. We just have something for you,” he began. “Mrs. Garrison told us about your situation, and even some of the students found out what situation?
Your daily commute,” Mrs. Garrison chimed in. “Oh,” Jason muttered, not knowing what else to say. He wasn’t exactly happy that everyone at school had discovered it, but it wasn’t a secret either. “I still don’t understand.
“Well, our tech and online savvy students created a GoFundMe for you,” Mr. Garcia revealed. Although Jason had no idea what a GoFundMe was, the principal handed him a check, and Jason’s mouth popped open. He stared at the number written at the top and couldn’t believe it. It was for ten thousand dollars.
“What is this? What’s a GoFundMe?” Jason had his mouth still open and shook it. “It’s a crowdfunding site. Basically, people post about good causes, and others donate as much as they want.
The link was shared around, and it reached the goal,” Mrs. Garrison explained. “You can buy a decent car without money.” Jason’s eyes watered, and he shook his head as if it wasn’t real. “But that’s not all,” Mr.
Garcia continued. “There’s someone here who saw the link we posted online. She donated and started asking questions about you, and this might be an even bigger surprise than the check.” Suddenly, the lady who had given him a ride stepped forward with a tentative smile and began her tale. “Years ago, my husband and I went on a vacation to an island far away from here, but our small