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Teen prepared to walk 10 miles for job interview gets unexpected help from community

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 1:45 p.m. MST

Jhaqueil Reagan, 18, talks to FOX 59. Reagan recently got a job, a free transit pass and a large Facebook following after trying to walk 10 miles through snow and slush for a job interview.

Video still from FOX 59

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An Indianapolis teen got more help than he expected when he stopped to ask for directions during his 10-mile snowy trek to a job interview last week.

Jhaqueil Reagan, 18, saw a man laying ice melt in a parking lot and asked him how many more miles to a destination.

The man, restaurant owner Art Bouvier, told Reagan that he still had five or six miles to go.

"I suggested that he would be far better off on the bus [than] on foot, especially in all this ice and slush," Bouvier said in a now-viral Facebook post about the experience. "He thanked me and continued on. He could have asked me for money for a bus. In fact I quite expected him to. He didn't. He just started walking."

Bouvier, who owns Cajun-style restaurant Papa Roux Po Boys and Cajun Food, said that 15 minutes later, he and his wife drove past Reagan, still trudging through the snow, and they decided to give him a ride.

“I said, well how come you’re not on the bus?” Bouvier told local news station, FOX 59. “He said, ‘I can’t afford the bus until I get a job.’”

Reagan was still far away from his destination and was walking down a section of street with no sidewalk when they picked him up.

Bouvier said he admired the teen's work ethic and his willingness to walk so far for "a potential (but not guaranteed) minimum-wage job." So, he gave Reagan some lunch money and dropped him off at his destination, with a promise.

"I got his telephone number and told him to keep his interview, but I would see if there was a way to hire him, so his daily trek to work would be 3 miles instead of 10," Bouvier said.

When Reagan was turned down by his potential hirer, Bouvier did indeed offer him a job at Papa Roux.

Reagan told FOX 59 that his life has been hard since he quit school two years ago when his mother died. He had to complete his GED while staying home to care for his siblings. Needless to stay, Reagan was ecstatic about the opportunity.

“I’m lucky I met him,” Reagan said of Bouvier. “I’m really lucky I met him.”

Bouvier's Facebook post has since received more than 25,000 likes and 6,000 shares.

When the local transit system heard the story, they offered Reagan a free one-year bus pass so he won't even have to walk three miles to get to work.

Reagan seemed overwhelmed at the thought that he now has a job, transportation and a large public following.

“It’s crazy. I don’t even know. It’s really crazy,” Reagan said. “My heart’s just racing right now. I’m just too excited, just excited to start.”

Bouvier said he knows Reagan will be a worthwhile investment.

"It's been a while since I've met someone so young with a work ethic like that," Bouvier wrote. "And the next time somebody hands me a sob story about needing money for this or that, because they really want to make their lives better, I hope to be able to introduce them to Jhaquiel."

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