A homeless man is sitting in a park. Then he notices a very distinguished and dignified executive sit down a few feet away on the grass; he is extremely well dressed in a tailored Hickey Freeman pinstriped suit, silk tie, starched white shirt, cuff links, tiepin, Cartier watch, highly polished black captoe shoes and black silk socks.
He places his expensive briefcase next to him and prepares for lunch.
“One of those executives, I’ll bet” thinks the homeless man, and after introducing himself, he finds out he is right – not only a executive, but also an investment banker.
The homeless man glances at the banker’s shoes, glistening in the sunlight; the banker is calling on his cell phone.
Homeless man: You have those polished every day, don’t you. Investment Banker: Just about. I have to look good for the clients. The first thing they notice are your shoes. These were handmade in London.
Homeless man: What about the poor? A few shoeshines would pay for a lot food. I’ll bet that suit put you back a thousand, and that silk tie would pay the rent for a month for some poor family.
Investment Banker: I help them through taxes, but we all have personal responsibility. I have worked hard for my position in life.
Homeless man: I’m telling you, the poor only need a chance! We should be GIVING them money; they haven’t had our advantages! You in your thousand dollar suit!
Investment Banker: Two thousand … We all have to work for what we have. I have to check my stocks.
Homeless man: Look, poverty can happen to anyone! There’s no way you can know that from where you sit! With those fancy clothes and that car and your high-paying job!
“Keep talking if you want to. I have an important board meeting to think about. When I sleep, nothing wakes me … and I mean NOTHING.
The investment banker sighs, lies down on the grass and falls deeply asleep. Then a barefoot friend of the homeless man appears, and points at the banker: “I wouldn’t mind having his money;” he laughs.
The homeless man laughs too, but then he sees the investment banker’s wallet in his suit pocket. He slips it out, and hands it to his homeless friend: money, ID, credit cards and all; then he notices that his good friend needs shoes.
Then he has an idea “Why not! This is an executive who needs to give to society! The homeless man needs shoes, and the executive … He looks over at the feet of the sleeping investment banker.
“Wait!” cries the homeless man. “I’m sure you need these more than he does. “He then starts to untie the investment banker’s polished $600 captoes and very carefully pulls them off.
Even more carefully, he divests the banker of his black dress socks, and hands both shoes and socks to the astonished friend. “With my compliments! They are handmade and they were just polished! Somebody told me that the first thing people notice are your shoes!”
The investment banker, now barefoot, yawns, stretches, but continues to sleep; soon he starts to snore again.
“I guess he won’t be seeing any more clients today, and he’ll have to miss that board meeting”, says the homeless man to himself, “but he’ll be a much better person!”
Then a mugger runs by, holding on to money he has just stolen “A victim of society!” thinks the homeless man. He slides the keys to the BMW out of the banker’s pocket, throws them to the mugger, and points to the car.
The mugger doesn’t stop to ask questions – he just drives off.
Then the homeless man sees a sad woman with a baby walking by. “Can I help you?” he asks her. When he finds out that she needs money for her rent, the homeless man again approaches the snoring investment banker and removes his cuff links; then he slips the tiepin out of the silk tie and the Cartier watch off his manicured hand.
He hands them all to the delighted woman. “Sell these!” the homeless man cries. “Oh, thank you sir” says the woman, and runs off. “It’s the least I can do!”
The homeless man then notices the banker’s cell phone and the password on a piece of paper. He calls the number and sells all of the banker’s stocks, and gives the money to a charity.
Next, a man in a janitor’s uniform walks by, looking dejected. “What’s the matter, my friend?” says the homeless man sympathetically. “I lost my job. I have a chance for a better one, but I don’t have the clothes! This is all I have!” and he holds up a pair of old polyester pants. The homeless man sighs, and then sees the banker’s navy blue pinstriped business suit.
“Would this help? It’s a two thousand dollar suit!” he asks the man, after carefully removing the jacket. “Sure!” cries the man. “A two thousand dollar suit! YEAH!”
“You could use a briefcase, too!” says the homeless man and opens up the investment banker’s briefcase. He removes the contents and hands it to the joyful man. He also gives him the banker’s cell phone.
Then he looks at the investment banker’s expensive silk tie and white shirt. Can he manage it? He has to move the investment banker a few times, but he only snores and sleeps.
Then he undoes the banker’s suspenders and pulls them off. Triumphantly he hands the shirt, suspenders and tie to the man, leaving their formerly dapper owner in his t-shirt.
“Wait” the homeless man cries. “You really need the full suit. Give me a hand and I’ll need those polyester pants. I’m getting good at this” and with great care and trouble, set to work.
Ten minutes later, the man is holding up the pinstriped suit with admiration while its former owner is reduced to wearing the polyester trousers.
He thanks the homeless man profusely and runs off, who brushes off his words: “I’m always glad to help those who need it! I’ve always been generous! How good it is to help people!” he says to himself.
Twenty minutes later, a policeman walks up to the formerly well-dressed investment banker, and snaps: “Hey buddy, wake up, no loitering! We don’t allow bums to sleep here.”
Finally the stripped investment banker wakes up with a start and looks down at himself with astonishment. There is nothing left of the impeccably dressed executive he had been when he left his office. He is barefoot and wearing only cheap trousers and a t-shirt. It takes him a moment to realize that his suit, shoes, socks, tie, shirt, watch, jewelry, money, credit cards, ID and briefcase are all gone.
He turns to the homeless man in astonished fury. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? WHERE IS MY SUIT, MY TIE, MY SHIRT! WHERE ARE MY SHOES AND SOCKS!? MY BRIEFCASE! MY WALLET! HOW CAN I GO BACK TO MY OFFICE LIKE THIS!? I LOOK LIKE A BUM!”
The homeless man then tells him about his car and stocks. The banker begins to yell. The policeman then turns to the homeless man and says “Is this bum disturbing you, sir?” and grabs the struggling investment banker by the arm and says: “You can sleep it off in the tank, buddy!”
“How DARE you! A BUM!!” shouted the banker, pulling his arm away angrily. “I am a banking executive!”
“Sure, pal” snaps the policeman. “Vagrancy, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, assaulting an officer, harassment!”
At that moment, the CEO of the banker’s firm walks by on a stroll, sees his employee being dragged away and cries out, “You’re fired!”
Three months later, the homeless man is sitting in the park as usual, and sees a new panhandler on the corner, with matted hair and a grizzled face, wearing polyester pants and a T-shirt, and a beard.
“It can’t be!” he says, as he walks up to him. But it is.
The expensive haircut and the manicure are gone, along with everything else, and the former investment banker is now an unemployed homeless bum with a criminal record; he has been thrown out of his condo and his wife has left him.
It’s hard to believe this was the same confident man in the expensive suit and polished shoes he had seen that day in the park.
“Spare change, sir?” says the banker-turned-panhandler, without looking up.
“Forget it!” snaps the homeless man. “Why don’t you get a job?”