His name was Oscar and he was loved by all. A University student, he exceled in sports and academia. Although he was not much of a talker, he was kind and pleasant to all he encountered. Oscar had a slender build, maintained a clean-cut appearance, and wore simple clothes. Looking at him from a distance, he seemed to have it all, but oohh, how deceiving looks can be. Despite being kind to others, Oscar had not yet mastered the art of being kind to himself. The oldest of 3 children, he hailed from a poor family and his parents scrambled to send him to college.
Oscar barely had enough money or food to make it through each term, but somehow, each semester, the infamous student loan, coupled with the kindness of strangers and friends made it possible for him to survive on campus. In order to support the family, his mother sold goods at the farmers market while his father eked a living from being a mechanic. Both parents were determined to ensure that their children had a good education so they pulled together all the resources they had to send Oscar to the University. You could never tell by looking at Oscar that he was facing financial trouble.
This particular semester was different. His father had incurred an injury at work and was recuperating at home so the entire family had to rely on his mother’s income. After paying the requisite fees, Oscar barely had any income left to fend for himself. School was only 2 weeks in and he was out of everything; no food, no money, no peace of mind, absolutely nothing. His only hope was the student loan but this was also not going to be disbursed until another 4 weeks. He pondered hard over his options. Do I borrow money from a friend, do I tell someone my story so they could help me? What if they tell someone else and people find out about my situation? How do I explain that I am out of everything within 2 weeks of being in school? He weighed his options and decided to wait for at least 1 more da y before asking his roommate for help. That decision to wait another day would ultimately get him into much trouble than he bargained for.
It was 2pm and Oscar was starving. The hunger pangs were now unbearable. His roommate whom he intended seeking help from was nowhere to be found so he peered over his roommates side table and noticed some cash lying loosely around. In that moment of desperation, Oscar took some of that money and rushed off to the “Bush Canteen” to find something to eat. He was not one to “take” people’s stuff but in that swift moment, hunger and hopelessness clouded his otherwise sound judgement. Shortly after finding something to eat, he proceeded to the Balme library to do some studying.
Upon returning to his room, pandemonium awaited him. His roommate had since returned and noticed that there was some money missing. Unfortunately, the roommate made this discovery in the presence of 5 notorious friends who began investigating. Everyone on the block knew that money was missing and word got out that Oscar was a thief. All the people Oscar had helped prior neglected him in his moment of weakness, and all the accolades given him for his academic prowess and sporting agility suddenly faded. Disgust and shame at his actions were the only thing people could remember. Indeed, the saying is true that “it’s during your down moments that you know who your real friends are”.
No one took the time to understand his unusual behavior, no one, except 1 guy who lived on the other side of the block. He knew Oscar and couldn’t understand why he would “take” another man’s stuff. Rather than stand in judgement of him, he took him aside and inquired further. His heart was broken upon hearing Oscar’s story and he tried to help. Surely, he couldn’t fix Oscar’s reputation but he sure could help salvage whatever was left of it. First, he gave him money to replace what he took from his roommate and then he offered him some provisions and shelter.
The two quickly became close friends and that friendship resulted in a business partnership. The remaining days on campus were extremely trying times for Oscar but he held his own and stayed the course. Remember those 5 notorious friends? Well, they made it out of college alright but they went on to commit mistakes that bore greater consequences than Oscars.
It’s been 15 years since Oscar graduated from the University and today, his story is totally changed.
Don’t wait until you get desperate. Reach out for help now.
Before you judge someone, take time to know the story behind the story.
Listen more, judge less, talk less.