George had lost everything in the Great Depression. His job, his home, his family, and his pride. He was now reduced to walking the subways of New York City, begging for change just to survive. He wore a tattered suit that he had scavenged from a garbage can and his hair and beard had grown wild and unkempt, as he had not had a haircut or shave in several years.
Every day, he walked the subway cars, hoping for a kind soul to offer him a few coins or even a piece of bread. He had lost count of the number of times he had been kicked or cursed at by angry commuters who saw him as a nuisance. But George refused to give up hope. He still believed that things would get better, that he would find a way out of his misery.
One cold, winter day, as he made his usual rounds, George saw a woman sitting on a bench, reading a book. She had a kind face and gentle eyes, and he felt drawn to her. He approached her timidly, asking for spare change. The woman looked up, startled, and saw the disheveled man before her.
At first, she recoiled, unsure of what to do. But as she looked into George’s eyes, she saw a glimmer of something familiar. It was the same hope and determination that had once burned bright in her own heart. She fished out a few coins from her purse and handed them to George, and then, before she could stop herself, she began to talk to him.
She asked him about his life, about his dreams and his fears. George, surprised by her kindness, opened up to her, telling her everything. He spoke about the wife and children he had lost, the home he had once owned, and the job he had loved. He spoke about the shame and despair that had taken hold of him, and how he felt like he had nothing left to live for.
The woman listened with compassion, nodding and offering words of encouragement. She told him about her own struggles, how she had lost her husband and her savings in the stock market crash, and how she had been forced to start over from scratch. But she had never given up, she had always believed that there was a way out. As the train rattled on, George found himself slowly opening up to this stranger.