Homeless Success Story

“It’s never too late to be wise.” (Daniel Defoe)

Have you been thinking lately about those past friends and acquaintances you’ve ever lost touch with over time? But are they really gone? For as the follow story suggests, don’t be surprised if such “deja vu” memories resurface again in your present life either through fate, situation, or chance encounter.

Homeless Success Story

Greg Bowen, a retired English instructor, loved to watch live baseball in the cool indoor ambience of Marlins Park. Yet as he nervously glanced at his watch frequently during both games of the doubleheader on this Friday night, he seemed noticeably distracted. For his experience teaching night classes in the inner city had taught him the dangers of driving such a long distance late at night to and from his home in Fort Lauderdale and downtown Miami. Such worries would soon intensify, when he returned to his car at 11:05 pm. to spot a flat tire for his vehicle at his accustomed parking lot outside a local bank.

At first thought in facing this crisis, Greg hoped to replace the tire himself. But he found his jack unusable and his spare tire deflated of air. So as he sat in his car pondering his other options, the slightest sounds like a dog barking fit or car horn blasts seemed to further put him “on edge.” Reaching for his phone, he did find some temporary relief by deciding to calling AAA , hoping they would send a service vehicle immediately to help him get back on the road. But he soon brooded why it would take an hour or two as he was told on the phone for the the tow truck to show up. So Greg re-considered in desperation whether to seek assistance on his own by walking a few blocks down to Flagler Street in “Little Havana” instead. For in his mind, he knew this was Miami, which meant he’d be taking a risk to leave his car stranded in what might not be considered to him the best area of town.

Nevertheless, Greg proceeded with his new plan. So he walked gingerly to the corner of 17th Avenue and Flagler near midnight, gesturing with his hands in hitchhiker fashion for someone who understood English to respond to his call for help. With a stroke of good luck, he soon noticed a white van swerving wildly into the curb beside him. A young man clad in mechanics clothes quickly rolled down his window to yell out Greg’s former title – “Hey Doctor Bowen. It’s Jose!” Under such unexpected circumstances , an ex-professor and his former student would now reunite with a much greater purpose than just fixing a simple flat tire so Greg could be speedily on his way home.

Understand then that over five years ago, Jose attended Professor Bowen’s College Prep Reading class at Miami Dade College Downtown Campus three nights a week during a time when he lived in his car enduring homeless desperation. It so happened that Professor Bowen took extensive time to help Jose deal with pressures outside the classroom at that crucial time of his life. In particular, he guided Jose to move forward from his enduring plight by encouraging him to read classic literature on his own. Know as well that on one notable student conference occasion during that academic term, Mr. Bowen handed Jose a free copy of Robinson Crusoe, the classic novel written long ago by Daniel Defoe. As the following events ensued in this story, you might say that this first novel which Jose had ever read before, became a definite turning point in his life.

So let’s focus more closely how Professor Bowen helped Jose overcome his homeless plight at the time. For he inspired Jose during their student conference times about how to use Robinson Crusoe and his friend Friday as positive role models for him in the novel who survived Jose’s similar perils of being stranded with lost hope for years in an isolated homeless environment. So during this chance encounter that Friday night, Jose could take some time to proudly report to his former teacher that he now responsibly paid his own way for school and an apartment while holding a steady job in the auto mechanics industry as well.

I too pondered a fortuitous reunion on two recent occasions in my life as briefly illustrated in the captioned photographs below.

I fondly connected last summer with Steve, my former college roommate at the University of South Florida and gifted drummer from a local band I played with” during the 1970s on the road”. Would I embrace my love of live concerts more as result of this encounter?
A few weeks ago on our California road trip, I met my former teaching colleague, Jacob at Broward College for lunch. I will never forget his magnetic chemistry with his E.S.L.students and exceptional technological prowess to adapt his curriculum online.  Might I take a college class again seeking a professor with such exceptional talents?

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