I had an interesting time at the office today, and it's only my second shift at the new magazine job.
It all started when a sweet-faced girl with a southern drawl walked in and meekly asked me if we were looking for writers.
On a side note: it's been weird managing a team of writers, that is, a group of eager people who are dumping story ideas into my inbox and repeatedly asking me things like "How many words? When's it due?" Essentially, I'm dealing with a crowd of ME.
But this girl seemed a bit different. She was timid, and didn't have a resume. She kept hanging around the parking lot of the building, even after I informed her that the publisher, Bill, was not there.
When Bill finally got back, the girl was still waiting around to ask him for work. I was a little surprised by her lack of pride, admittedly. But Bill, being the jovial and awesome publisher that he is, invited the girl inside right away. She earnestly explained to both of us that she was searching for whatever we had available--whether it was writing articles, distribution, or sales.
"You see...I've been homeless since Friday," she whispered. "My house has been foreclosed. I've spent the last couple of nights in a hotel while I look for work."
Bill and I looked at each other.
"How awful," sighed Bill. "Do you have gas in your car?"
"Oh, yes sir. I have a tiny bit of money...but I really need work."
I stayed silent while Bill sized the girl up. She seemed innocent enough.
"Tell you what. I'll let you distribute some magazines for me," he finally said. "Can you drop off some copies of our Summerville edition in that area? I know it's not much, but I hope it helps you."
The girl was overjoyed. She happily replied that she could do it, and left the office a moment later with one of the sales guys, who was instructed to take her to the warehouse for copies.
After the incident was over, Bill turned to me. "Did I do the right thing?" he asked.
"Yes, I think so," I hedged.
"She seemed sincere," he decided. "I did what I felt."
Later, I couldn't help but think about the meaning behind Bill's outreach--and how good it is to know that I have a boss like that. I've known a lot of people who say they'll go the extra mile for someone in need, but to see it actually happen is refreshing.
Talk is cheap, after all. No matter how good we media types are at doing it.